Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Brockett, Bob

< Home < Contributors < Brockett, Bob

Well, I'm just a boy from Illinois (well, I'm still pretty much a boy at heart, although the calendar says I'll be 52 in May; how that  number got here so quick, I can't say!).  32 years and still grinding away at the same tired old paper company in Joliet, IL.  I started building rods--all kinds--back in 1980 after purchasing the Clemens book.  Wasn't a flyfisher back then, but like my father I loved to fish.  I did develop a sort of affinity for glass back then, since the old graphite was so brittle and so many rods I'd spent so much time on (remember 30 hours on a chevron butt wrap for a spinning rod that I gave to my father; gorgeous, but snapped like the proverbial green bean when he set the hook on some bottom dwelling behemoth on the Illinois River at Starved Rock) did not last.  Picked up a fly rod for the first time around '86, think it was.  Married 5 years by then, with the last of my three kids on the way (daughter finally, my Emily).  Not willing to steal from my table to buy Winston graphite,  I naturally started building my own.  A lot of these old rods are still around with friends and family, still I wasn't satisfied with the way most performed in respect to the short game, to use a golfing term, which, for me, anyway, makes up so much of my fly fishing (Michigan for trout, salmon and steelhead; Illinois for my trusty smallies and bluegills).  The trend, as we've all seen, has been to longer and longer and stiffer and stiffer rods, so that now the "norm" is a 9 footer, just too long and unyielding for a number of the smaller northern streams I fish, at least for me.  Before we knew it, we'd all been Montana-ized, it seemed, with the emphasis on gear designed for the bigger western rivers.  There was something sterile about this whole graphite revolution, something about the material itself that left me a tad cold.   (Plus,  as I said, too many broke too easily, so I took to building them without much in the way of adornment, not wanting to leave more wasted time in my wake.  This also bothered me, from an aesthetic point of view.  If they'd come with spare tip sections, most of them would still be around!)

It wasn't until some years later, late 90s, that I cast my first bamboo fly rod.  It was an old Heddon of strange length, 8ft and change, 6 wt; the model is not in my memory; could be the tip was shortened at a time of repair.  Heavy, yes, but the action pleased me.  Then, at a fly fishing show in Oak Brook, IL, I came upon a cane rodmaker's booth.  Again, memory fails here.  Recalling the old Heddon,  I asked  to cast one  of his  demo  rods,  a  beautiful 7-1/2 ft 5wt, think it was, and the light bulb in my head really came on.  Without ever realizing, this was what I'd been looking for!  The perfect club for my short game!  And not just that.  I quickly discovered that if I adjusted my tempo and waited just a bit longer on the back stroke, I could shoot line just fine, so the cane rod was plenty versatile.  Knowing I couldn't wait until retirement to afford one, I began laying my plans.

A decade has passed since and only now have I managed to accumulate most of the tools I need.  In between purchases (sometimes long stretches), I've built my library and studied like a monk every word from Mr. Talsma's wonderful, unique online compendium otherwise known as the Bamboo Rodmaking Tips page.  Printed out literally hundreds of pages from there and gone through who knows how many yellow hi-liters.  It's from there that I got to know Harry, as well as dozens of other makers spread out, much to my surprise (and delight), all over the globe.  Pretty soon, I could tell who was speaking long before I read the name beneath.  So far this has been my university.  My profs have names like Boyd, Arguello, Cattanach, Wendt, Hayashida (RIP, a true innovator), Raine, Young, McKean, Baldauski, Moon, LeClair, Neunemann, Kearney, Haywood, Maulucci, Nunley, Vigil, Spezio, Anderson, Talsma, Stetzer, Savage, Carlin (no not that Carlin), Groth, Martin-Darrell, Troester, Drummond, Channer, Blan,  Higham, Smithwick, Gooding,  Penrose, Wagner and...ok, I give up.  (Sorry for those left out or misspellings!)  Anyway, that's quite a faculty and who says you're ever too old for school?!

So many of you have helped me along either directly or indirectly that it's hard keeping track, but I do want to thank all for your invaluable contributions to this sometimes obscure and once very secretive discipline.  Especially you, Harry.  Seems you've always been right there for everyone, right from the start.  OK.  That's my story (sorry you asked??  tell the truth!!) and also a whole lot more talking than I've done in one place in the last 6 months put together.  (Folks usually peg me as being a bit on the quiet side, so I'll get back to that now before I start hating  myself!)  Anyway, hoping to have my first rod completed just after the holidays, or at least ready to finish.  Been a long haul just to get this far, but I'm really enjoying it.  Thanks again to everyone!

Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store