Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Higham, Dennis

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OK, I guess it's my turn to jump in. My name is Dennis Higham, I'm a 62 year old retired airline pilot living 60 miles west of Chicago. I grew up in New Jersey and my first fishing pole was a cane stick from the hardware store with a paper clip for a tiptop, bobber, hook and worm. I think I was 5 when my father started taking me along when he went fishing. My father passed away when I was seven so I never got fully indoctrinated into fly-fishing. Flash forward 35 years, I'm married, I have a degree in entomology from Rutgers, I've done 10 years in the Air Force flying KC-135's plus   a  few   years  with  the  4950th  Test  Wing  flying prototype  -135's in systems test work and I'm living in Oklahoma, flying for United and take up fly-fishing 'cause of all the wonderful trout streams around Oklahoma City (just  kidding),  I  don't seemed like a good idea at the time. I bought my first good bamboo rod in the early 80's from Bob Corsetti. I started buying a "few" bamboo rods, now and again because I really needed another bamboo rod. In the early 90's, living in Chicago , I was going thru my Dad's fishing stuff that had been in storage and decided it would be a good idea to "restore" his old fly rods. Nothing special, a South Bend, a Montague and one no-name rod. All pretty well used, chipped varnish, etc. There was no information on rod building, restoring, etc that I could find but I did     run    across    a    tiny    ad    that    said    send    a    stamped, self-addressed envelope for a free copy of a new newsletter about bamboo rods called "The Planing Form." I subscribed and found out about a Bamboo Rodmakers Gathering being held in Corbett Lake, British Columbia . I still just wanted to make my Dad's rods look nice but what was I to do, no other info anywhere, so I thought, since I could fly in the cockpit for free to Seattle, the weekend would be a cheapie, fun getaway and maybe I'd find out how to redo those three old rods (seemed like a good idea at the time). So, off to Seattle, drive to Merritt and walk into the Gathering. First guy I met was John Bokstrom, then Don Anderson, a few other bamboo kinda guys (Ed Hartzel, John Zimny), seemed pretty safe and then I ran into an old fart named Ralph Moon. Well my fate was sealed, after Bokstrom, Anderson , Moon, Hartzel finished with me I was bamboo dead meat. I came home intent on building a rod. Yea, they set the hook deep. That was April '94, in June '94 I showed up at the first Grayling Gathering and met Wayne Cattanach and Ron Barch. Ok, now I'm really done for, there is no hope for a normal life ever again. At the second Grayling gathering I brought my first strips for Wayne to inspect...he politely, gently suggested we might start over, just so he could walk me through the process you see. OK, so maybe those first strips weren't perfect. With Wayne 's help I got through the first rod. Fifteen years later I've helped put on a few Gatherings at Grayrock, SRG and most recently in the Catskills. I'm not sure how many rods I've made, burned in the fireplace or tossed in the trash but I probably average 5-6 rods a year and my Dad's rods remain in their original, unrestored condition. The best part about this bamboo journey are the friends I've met along the way.

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