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We know  the old scientific name for the bamboo in fly rods, ARUNDINARIA Amabilis ("lovely reed" or "beautiful grass"). But the genus is reclassified (since 1957?) to PSEUDOSASA Amabilis.  As a wooden  Latin translation that would literally mean "Lovely FalseSasa."  I don't know what the genus Sasa means.  Lovely False ____ probably will not work for the revised title on the hoped-for reprint of Jack Howell's book. Since this plant is the fundamental basis of what we do, are there any botanists or Latin scholars who can give a better (English) meaning behind the name for the plant  PSEUDOSASA Amabilis?

While pecking around on the web for a meaning I did learn the meaning of the Chinese name for this species: Cha gan zhu means "Cha Pole Bamboo," but the Google translator did not tell me what Cha means.

I probably need to go imitate some bugs to get this out of my system.  (Paul Franklyn)

    Sasa is the genus for running bamboo. So PSEUDOSASA Amabilis is the lovely false running bamboo.  (Larry Puckett)

    Cha means 'tea'.  (Chester Jung)

      Thus the other common name, Tea Stick Bamboo.  Now I wonder if tea was brewed from the leaves of this species.  (Paul Franklyn)

    I give up on the Sasa, but the Cha is a snap.  Even McClure refers to it as Tea Stick bamboo,  Cha is the name of that understated but never overrated beverage known as TEA.  Try a good grade of Lapsang Souchon and you will see what I mean.   (Ralph Moon)


Moso does make an OK rod. It is denser and therefore heavier for the same size. This makes it a bit slower for the same taper. You can compensate for this, but it makes for a slightly heavier rod to get the same action than a rod made from Tonkin. Working Moso is more difficult, the pith isn't like the pith on Tonkin. Moso pith is hard like wood and more difficult to plane. I did a break test on Moso, and it does splinter with separate fibers, but with the hard pith clinging to the fibers giving it a chunky appearance rather than the hairlike paintbrush fibers that Tonkin has. I would rate Moso somewhere between Tonkin and Calcutta, but since my experience with Calcutta is only with older rods it could be that a new Calcutta rod made to the same taper would be faster than the Calcutta rods I have cast.

My conclusions are if Tonkin became  unavailable Moso would be OK, but as long as there is Tonkin around, that's what I'll use.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I took 3 culms down from the attic on Monday.  They went out the back door, onto 2 sawhorses.  I flamed all three culms.  It got too hot outside (mid 90's) to do anything else.  Tuesday I went out and measured 2 and cut them with a hacksaw.  Cuts on both ends of two 12 foot culms.  It got hot that day too.  The cut ends fell on the ground, which is 3/4" gravel.  I left the 3rd culm on the sawhorses.  Split and straightened strips from the two cut culms on Wednesday and Thursday.

With me so far?

It's raining today and I had left the remaining culm outside.  Went out to get it.  The third culm is perfectly fine. Thought I would straighten up a little as well, even though it was raining lightly.  When I went to pick up the 4 end pieces on the ground, two of them HAD BURNED.  Yea, one end piece had even dropped on the garden hose and melted a section of it!  Two other end cuts were fine.  The larger sections of the culms that I took indoors and split are fine.  I cannot see how gravel could get anywhere near hot enough to start combustion.

The culm parts were obviously dry when they hit the ground.  All four of them.  One section from each end of the culms burnt.  One was right at a node, and the other was in between the nodes.

I flamed on Monday.  Went out measured and cut on Tuesday.  They caught on fire sometime after that.  Anybody have anything like this happen to them?  (Chris Raine)

    You didn't mention what brand scotch you were drinking!  (Rick Crenshaw)

    Spontaneous bamboo combustion? Seems strange, I'm with you in that it seems hard to believe gravel could get that hot.  (Martin Jensen)

    When you search the archives, include gremlins in your search.  What you describe seems totally implausible.

    Could the sun have shined on two of the sections differently then the other two?  I guess what I am leading up to is that I don't think it is a function of the gravel but if the bamboo has been flamed, it is therefore darker and, depending on its orientation to the sun, may absorb more energy (heat) from the sun.

    I would love to hear the answer.  (Tim Wilhelm)

      If I read your story correctly, the culms were on gravel in the sun. It seems implausible, but you could have gotten a solar oven if things were just right. I used to teach environmental science, and one of my most famous demos was baking brownies in a solar oven. Every semester someone would suspect a trick and put their hand on the thing despite the fact that there was a thermometer reading 325 F. I also helped a teacher build a big dish of aluminum foil and cardboard- she used to fry eggs with it. It drove the students insane. I have no idea what the exact sun angle was,  and how the culm was sitting, but, no, it isn't out of the question.

      Repeat the setup on the next sunny hot day and see if it happens again.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I know out here in Australia where it gets pretty damn hot you never lay a crow bar along the ground if you want to be able to pick it up again with bare hands. Always stand it up. That goes everywhere I know but here we never tell anybody, they just have to learn themselves.  (Tony Young)

    You can tell a person something twenty times and they wont listen, let 'em do it once...  (Tony Young)

    My wife used to teach Kindergarten at a year-round school in California.  One hot summer day she and another teacher decided to check out the expression "hot enough to fry an egg" by breaking an egg out on the blacktop where the kids were supposed to play.  The egg did cook, and they measured a temperature of 200 degrees F on the surface of the blacktop.  That said, I don't believe that the sun, by itself, could cause it to get hot enough for bamboo to catch fire without something acting to concentrate the heat.

    I suspect that either someone is pulling a prank on you or else Jeff Schaeffer is right and something behind your shop acted to focus the sun on the scraps like a solar oven.  I have heard of grass fires starting on hot summer mornings from dew drops acting as lenses and focusing the suns rays.  All I can suggest is to check the area where the bamboo caught fire frequently during the day and see if it's possible.  Given the orientation of your shop, morning is  the most likely time.   The sun will not follow exactly the same path across the sky, but if nothing's been moved out there and something is acting like a solar collector, you should still see some pretty intense light near the spot.

    One other suggestion - build blond rods.  (Robert Kope)

    You said that you had flamed the culms on Monday, and cut them on Tuesday. Perhaps the flaming started some scorching inside the culm, and the hot weather allowed the pithy material to continue smoldering, which went unnoticed. When you cut them on Tuesday, that could have allowed more oxygen to get at the burn and the pieces combusted during the day on the hot gravel. And mayby the garden hose wasn't melted when the piece fell on it, but later.  (Ron Grantham)

    Well, now that we know bamboo spontaneously combusts, it can only be a good thing!

    More importantly, perhaps folks from Washington State and Oregon will stop coming here and go to Dunsmuir instead! That's just the weather youse folks are looking for! I also happen to know that Chris has a fine little cabin right on the Upper Sac one could probably rent for the season! LOL Sorry Chris.

    If you are looking for evidence of spontaneous combustion, simply drive along the highway here at a reasonable speed and observe the small piles of ashes on the side of the rod. Ground squirrels, Roadrunners, lizards, rattlesnakes, our welcomed new immigrants, even simply piles of ash at the rear wheel of some broken down Monte Carlo still on the jack. Poor bastard!

    To keep this in a rod making vein, here in "nowhere" AZ is probably one of the best places to make a bamboo rod. IF you don't mind not having any running water, trout, or people around you who even know what a trout is. LOL Yes, lay a piece of bamboo on something hot and it seems to get hotter. Lay a hot piece of anything on a hose and well, it melts.

    Shoot the kids in the butt with a BB gun anyway. They probably deserve it.  (Mike Shay)

    You plucked me from the forests of my home
    And bore me far away to foreign lands;
    I am Chinese - I was not meant to roam!
    My fate was meant to lie in China's hands

    In which I bridged the rivers fast and free,
    And spanned the dizzy heights of buildings tall -
    Safe passage for the men who worked with me;
    I cared for them and sheltered one and all.

    And then one day a man with eyes too round
    Scorched me with fire and on that day I learned
    The shame of being cast upon the ground -
    It pissed me off!  Of course I bloody burned!  (Peter McKean)


I know there are some Engineer types out there who can help me with this one!

For Tonkin Cane, from a reliable source, what are the Allowable (assumed!) unit stresses in pounds per square inch?

Extreme fiber bending - Fb ?

Tension Parallel to grain - Ft ?

Horizontal shear - Fv ?

Compression parallel to grain - Fc ?

Modulus of Elasticity - E ?  (Don Green)

    I’ve done some measurements on tonkin cane and have concluded that the number established by Garrison for MOE is a pretty good average.  (4.6 x 10^6).  I measured nine strips 0.100 x 0.150 x 6.0 long and found extremes of 4.2 x 10^6 to 4.8 x 10^6 with most centered around 4.6 x 10^6

    I did some beam testing to failure and calculated a maximum short-term stress at failure was about 45 x 10^3 psi  (720 x 10^3 oz/sq in).  These stress tests were done on representative hex sections about 0.250 across the flats and don’t consider differences between compressive and tensile stresses.  The number I report is a calculated value assuming a homogeneous cross-section and it was fairly repeatable over five samples.   (Al Baldauski)


I was thinking about the power fibers the other day as I was getting ready to begin another rod.  We discuss how tapers affect the dynamics of the action of a rod, as well as the power fibers themselves.  We saw, hand split, mill, plane, etc. the strips all to preserve the power fibers.  Are the power fibers bigger/denser in the butt section of the culm in relation to the tip section, or does the power fiber itself diminish in dimension as you progress toward the tip of the culm?  How would reversing a tip strip and alternating the strips with butt section strips (and vice versa) affect the dynamics?  It would seem to me that one would get a more uniform dynamic along the length of a rod by doing this.  Or, would incorporating the bigger fibers from the butt strips into the tip section make it behave more like a broomstick?  I hope my question is clear--I know what I'm trying to say, but my communication may be lacking.   (Walt Hammerick)

    I do exactly as you suggest, I flip three strips in every section end for end (I use 3x3 node spacing). My theory is along the same line as yours, it gives me a more uniform "dynamic". This way I can use the taper alone to make the rod perform the way I want. I know bamboo is still a natural material but I try to do everything I can to make it uniform so my end results are more predictable. I've been making rods this way for a number of years and like it a lot. No one would ever be able to tell that a rod was built this way  (not that it would matter if they could).  (Jeff Fultz)

      Since you put it out there, would you elaborate on this "uniform dynamic" theory. I've been pondering this "flipping" sticks for several years now and would like to hear how you reached your conclusion.  (Jerry Foster)

        Well, I don't won't to start any arguments over what's the best way but for me, my way works. My thinking is that since the density of power fibers tapers (or gets thinner) from the butt of a culm to the tip, by flipping three strips, I get a more uniform blank. I've tested this theory  few times by gluing up blanks with no taper. The blanks with strips arranged as they were on the culm deflected more than the sections that had three strips flipped. By having a more "uniform" material to start, I can then manipulate tapers both inside and out to make the rod perform the way I want. Clear as mud?  (Jeff Fultz)

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