Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Coles, Bryan

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As several other 'Newbies' have recently admitted, I've been lurking on this list for quite some time and I think it's about time I 'outed' myself.

My name is Bryan Coles, I'm 65 years old, I currently live in Whitefish, Montana, I've been retired for about a year and a half, and I  built my first rod with Chris Raine last month.  As I type this it's beginning to feel like I'm going through some sort of 12-step  confession, which is UNCOMFORTABLE, but I'll continue.

I've   been   an   avid   trout   fisher   for   over  40  years  and  a fly-fisherman for about 20 years.  These numbers might sound impressive to some people, but they shouldn't be considered significant.  While I've always been fascinated with the outdoors, and outdoor activities such as camping and fishing, I've always allowed other 'responsibilities' (such as work, family, etc) to occupy higher rungs on the priority ladder and consequently I've never spent as much time pursuing the 'higher challenge' as I'd like.  Now that I'm retired, I'm hoping that I will be able to adjust the priorities of my life and concentrate on some of the more important neglected activities, such as rod building and fish catching. 

I have degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Optical Oceanography, and for the past 35+ years I've served customers in the commercial offshore, military, and governmental markets.  I retired from formal, full-time employment in July 2009 and relocated to a cabin in the northwest corner of Montana (about 30 minutes west of Glacier National Park).  I've been an active woodworking amateur for a long time and one of my continuing 'retirement activities' is to convert an existing pole-barn (which some folks characterize as the 'pig in the front yard') to a useful shop.  The woodworking elements of the shop are pretty well established and, as part of a longer-term plan, I'm now adding the tools/capabilities required to build 'hand crafted' bamboo rods (I've designed and built my own 'cane cooker', I've built several planing forms, and I have some specialized tools on the drawing board that will allow me to measure the important mechanical properties of my cane components).

As part of my long term plan, I took a rod-building class from Chris Raine in Dunsmuir, CA last month (2 months ago I would have characterized my rods as 'home made', but Chris Raine adjusted my attitude by telling me that 'brownies are home-made, fly rods are hand-crafted').  I had a great time, learned a TON of stuff, and I'd like to publicly thank Chris for an exceptionally productive experience.  I built my first rod, a 4wt Payne 100, and now I'm trying to teach myself how to use it (I can get 45ft casts without much trouble and for 98% of the kind of fishing I like to do that's more than adequate, now I'm working on accuracy and finesse). 

As I mentioned, I've been a pretty serious amateur woodworker for a long time.  So making parts like the reel seat inserts and turning cork grips ain't no big deal.  I'm also comfortable sharpening my plane irons to the levels required by bamboo planers (only a few of you have really high standards) and measuring dimensions to a tenth of a thousandth is not intimidating.  As a mechanical engineer I know my way around a machine shop, I'm comfortable with concepts like stress/strain/MOE, and I REALLY appreciate the heroic efforts of folks like Bob Milward and Wolfram Schott to establish a quantified foundation for our craft - their efforts should be LOUDLY applauded and we should all look for ways in which we can add to their contributions.

As a closing comment I'd like to sincerely thank all the experienced rod-makers (too many to list individually) who have been so supportive to us 'newbies' by openly and unconditionally offering comments, suggestions, and other valuable elements of their hard won experience.  This altruistic sharing of valuable knowledge is driving an amazing resurgence of interest in the rodbuilding craft and will result in a dramatic increase in the quality of the product we all strive to produce.  

Thank you all for helping me have so much fun!

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