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Up to this point I have bought all my cane in groups of three from Golden Witch now I am leaning towards buying a bale.  I have some questions.  How does the average bale break down in numbers of useable cane if you are not extreme in your cane requirements (I flame all my rods so some blemishes on the surfaces is OK)?  Has anyone had any troubles with the freight truck finding you if you live off the beaten path?  Which of the cane suppliers do you feel is the best to deal with.  I am in PA.  If there are any other comments you may have I would like to hear them.  (Pete Lawrence)

    How far away from Bloomingdale, New Jersey are you? You might try Demarest.

    If I remember my geography right there are parts of PA that are real close to NJ. You might be able to pick it up yourself.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I called Demarest  and they said they would let me go to their facility and pick thru the cane. They were very nice. If your close to NJ its not too bad of a ride!!!  (Bill Tagye)

    If you make smaller rods (7' and under) you can use 100% of what you get. A bale was 20 culms and for a period of time, then it was 25 culms (the last time I bought). I understand now it's back to 20 culms. You may need a commercial establishment  for the truck to deliver to, like a Lumber yard or factory. When I buy I use a local lumber yard here in NJ. I buy only from Demarest.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I don't know if there is a single answer to how much cane is usable in a bale.  For me, just about 100% is usable, I believe Nunley once told me that for him the number is more like 40%.  I'll cull more in the future, but right now the quality of the cane is not my problem.

    Although I'm sure others are as good, I have only dealt with Demarest and plan to continue.  It's not really a business decision but a personal one. I have gotten to know Harold and Eileen through Grayrock and SRG and consider them top drawer.

    As far as receiving you shipment, when I purchase a bale I have Eileen ask the shipping company to hold it at their terminal.  Most are open at least 6 days a week and 24 hours a day.  I find it a lot easier to schedule my time to go get it then taking off work to go home to receive it.  Like the cable repair guy, they never show up on time.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    I can only echo what everyone has said about the Demarests. When I started up I called them first and they advised me as to which book(s) to buy and where to get other components. I ordered a 3 culm package from them and they shipped them before I even wrote the check. Since I was just staring out, I was not fussy as to marks and things, and from that original order I was able to complete 2 one tip and three 2 tip rods. I would like to try Andy Royer one day but left coast to right coast shipping costs are pricey.   (Bill Bixler)


Is Golden Witch B-grade good enough to build a rod from, or is it better for just practicing splitting and node dressing?  (Joe West)

    I built my first rod from the b grade culm in their sampler pack. If you are going to take the time to practice split it out properly, dress the nodes, you should get at least 12-14 strips, that’s enough for a 2/1 rod. Might have to stick with a rod in the 7-7.5' range for node spacing. It's not the prettiest cane, but a rod is a rod.   (Pete Van Schaack)


I’m planning on purchasing some cane and I need some input. Without naming any names, my choices are:

1) An old and establish importer, which presumably has “seasoned” cane.

2) A new importer with newer cane

3) A local guy, who probably has newer cane as well.

Of course, the cane from each source varies in price but that is not the sticking point.

I’m wondering just how important “seasoned” cane is and why.  Presumably seasoning simply dries the cane at a slow and natural rate until it arrives at an equilibrium with it’s environment. Can’t this be done with newer cane in a low temp oven?

If I won’t be able to season the cane myself for the next couple of rods, will I notice a difference between two rods of the same taper, one built with seasoned cane and the other not?

And isn’t seasoning a moot point if you soak your strips?

If seasoning truly is important, than my choice for a first order is clear but if is not, then presuming the local guy has good stuff, I can go there.  (Jim Lowe)

    There's no reason you can't use cane that is recently delivered providing you heat treat the cane in the building process. Seasoning cane is often done so that the cane will dry uniformly both inside and out by "check splitting" or by punching holes through the diaphragms from the end each culm.  (Ray Gould)

    I would look more at the quality of the cane, lack of water marks, growers markers, bug holes leaf node holes and imperfections, by the time the cane gets to the states it should be pretty well seasoned. Heat treating removes additional moisture, letting the cane sit in the sun will remove any green color and "bleach" it blonde.

    Older established has probably been selling to rodmakers and knows the qualities that we look for.

    Newer guy, may have good quality, but not have your best interest in mind when shipping and will just send you whatever he has instead of selecting out top grade stuff.

    Local guy, you get to pick what you want, hopefully.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    I heard Harold Demarest say that by the time the cane gets to a rodmaker, it has been off the mountain for at least two years. So split away, although I like to put them out in the sun if they have a green tinge. I put them out, and my wife and children always bring them back in and inform me that I left a valuable and delicate culm out in the yard again, and it looked like rain.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


I've read all the tips on Todd's site and also some of the other sites listed - so I'll try to keep my questions limited to what I can't find answers for in the archive's.

Bamboo.  The first rod that I'm going to make will be short 7-8' or so.  Can I buy less than a bundle of bamboo and have the pieces cut in half so that UPS can deliver it or do I really need the pieces 12' long?  (Aaron Gaffney)

    I've made around 30 rods and all have been made from 12' culms cut in  half, no problem.  (Danny Twang)

    For the bamboo, split 6' sections are fine.  Ask to see if they can split the culms at the closest node to 6' rather than exactly at 6' (and falling right in the middle of two nodes).  Again, it's nice if they can do it, but not necessary, you'll have plenty of working cane to stagger the nodes with.  (Scott Turner)


I was wondering what the largest internodal distance people have come across in their culms? As I live "down under," I haven't had the chance to see anyone else’s cane - just the culms that have passed through my hands. I have a couple pushing 20" (for the top couple of nodes).

Part of this is just out of interest, and part is because of an idea I had to make a 4 piece nodeless, spliceless rod out of internodal sections (which, when I come to think of it, was again, just out of interest, as I really like the look of light nodes contrasting flamed cane).  (Nick Taransky)

    Got my curiosity up so I went and measured. Most of my culms are 18 inches with a few 16 and 17, but I have 2 at 20 and one at 21. A 24 must be a monster!! (Floyd Burkett)

    I have some culms from Cary Chan, who's uncle is in the bamboo business in China. Some of these culms have 21" spacing and are as as much as 2 1/4" in diameter. Sorry to say, Cary no longer sells bamboo.  (Tony Spezio)

    Though I don't often measure the internodal distances, I'd say nearly 20" sounds about right.  I'm working on a couple of 8' 3/2 rods.  Nodes are spaced 3x3.  In the mid sections, half the strips have only one node, almost exactly in the center.  That particular culm must have had at least 18" between nodes.  (Harry Boyd)

      I know of a rodmaker among us who has some old bamboo culms and the shortest nodal distance in the bunch is over 24 inches.  I don't know if he has used it as yet but I continue to beg for just the slightest slivers. As yet it is only a dream.  (Timothy Troester)

    That's an interesting question so I went into my shop and checked on some of my culms. I have one culm from Demarest from 1992 where the internodal space is 18", one culm I bought from Orvis in 1979 that has 16" spacing and one culm I got from Andy Hall( a well known northwest builder who worked with Dawn Holbrook) that is a pre 1950"s culm 2 1/4" OD x 6 ft long that has 16" spacing. (Ray Gould)

      Yes, it's interesting. Most culms seem to fall in the 16-18 inch range, with a few outside on either side. I've not used the Demarest mid cut cane before, but from the look of Harold's article in an earlier Planing Form, these would have greater internodal distances on average.

      Not that I'm unhappy with the cane I have. Like I said, I was wondering more out of interest than anything. I've put together a spreadsheet using 3x3 stagger, and various rod lengths and configs (2 piece/3 piece) to maximize the node distance from the ferrules and tips without splitting the wrong culm in half and then stuffing around with it. Like a 7 foot 6 inch 3 piece, with 15 inches of clear cane between the nodes will end up with nodes about 7 1/2 inches from the tips/ferrules(on the splines with 2 rather than 1 node present).  (Nick Taransky)

    I have made several four piece 8' rods completely nodeless with cane with internodal length of 2'. The idea of having no nodes or splices is reassuring. I use local African cane, with an internodal distance on some culms of 2' and sometimes more. (Geert Poorteman)


Here's the question. Planing forms are about done, have to build an oven yet shouldn't be too tough to do), and acquire plane and scraper. Should I order the bamboo and let it dry out and split and do what boo does, at this stage of the game???

I don't have a whole lot of money to play with each month, so I thought to get  the bamboo and let it dry and settle while I continue to acquire that which is needed.   (Ren Monllor)

    I would go ahead and get the bamboo, it should be sufficiently dried already. At least until the forms are done, you can split it, file nodes, straighten it and get ready for the forms. Have fun!  (Pete Van Schaack)

      I have a question about wet bamboo and oven drying and all that.

      I just buy my culms and stick them away and forget about them till I make a rod but I saw a few years back on the old list people were starting to say  soak the strips and plane wet and others were saying don't  and some said aged bamboo make a difference and from memory one person said aged bamboo is great but soak it before planing the heat treatment dries it again anyhow.

      Now my question is this.  If you heat treat, does soaking make any difference to the finished rod overall to if it has been dry since the day you received it?

      I don't plan on soaking my strips BTW I'm just interested in what the feeling is now it seems to have been de rigeur a while now.  (Tony Young)

        Some of my cane is in excess of 25 years old and I have never soaked it. It planes OK and the rods are OK so I am not going to change my methodology just yet.  (Paul Blakley)

          No, I can see why. Like I wrote I don't plan on changing I'm just curious to know about it.  (Tony Young)

            Ron Barch did a step-by-step write up in "The Planing Form" this issue, so I thought I'd give it a try.  He splits, soaks about 24 hours & presses nodes, then rough bevels and heat treats, so he's not planing wet.  I tried it: nodes work MUCH better wet, and the rough beveling by hand is great.  Not sure how one would go about final planing wet, I think the tips would be too small to heat treat safely.  Maybe a few hours at 200 degrees would work.  Given how much easier the wet planing is, I think I'm going to try it for my butt strips on this rod.  (Neil Savage)

            Some of us use a Morgan Handmill and the Handmill is immeasurably easier to use if the strip is wet versus dry. I've made a few sections and one rod using the soaking method and the rod is my favorite rod to fish. Not better than stuff made dry, but there is no noticeable difference.  (Bill Walters)

        I find that the same tapers I made before I started to soak and the the ones I made after I started soaking all feel the same. I can't tell any difference. I had a hard time convincing myself to finally soak a set of strips. After the first time I soaked, I never went back to roughing dry strips. I soak for five days.

        I final plane dry.  (Tony Spezio)


I found myself wandering around a bamboo wholesaler, and found some very good looking 8 foot long,  2 inch in diameter culms. Alas, they were Moso, not Tonkin. I bought a couple culms anyway, they were only $7 and some change. One difference I can see is in this picture of the power fibers. There seems to be pockets of pith between the fibers.  (Darryl Hayashida)

HD Moso

    Max Satoh mentioned that Moso is sometimes used for rods in Japan, but he did not sound  enthusiastic.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      The post which Frank referred was made a long long ago when I was young. <g>

      Recent thought of mine is,

      After looking at the picture of Moso which Darryl introduced, I think that the same species bamboo will grow differently by the difference of weather, soil, etc.  The cross section of the Darryl's photo is very different from that of the Moso in Japan. I guess the Darryl's Moso may be well eligible to make rod. Our Moso has thinner wall and less fibers scattered around pith.  And it grows to about three inches diameter at the bottom.

      I am not for sure about the white spots in the cross-section, but interesting what they are.  (Max Satoh)

    When you build a rod out of it make sure to post your findings and the difference in characteristics. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe Mike Brooks mentioned experimenting with this once, among several other types of bamboo including 1 or 2 types that is being grown in Oregon.  (Will Price)

    That may be sweet for a rod tube.  (Greg Dawson)


A question for makers working in mainland Europe.

I would be interested to know where you are buying your Tonkin cane?  Particularly interested if there is reliable importer in France but anywhere considered.  (Gary Marshall)

    In Germany there is the company, Schachtrupp.  (Christian Meinke)


My first bamboo order was from Demarest, and consisted of their 3 piece minimum which cost approximately $160 ($40 per piece, $40 shipping).  This is substantially more expensive than purchasing a bale which would be $525 plus shipping for 20 pieces.  However, they require a commercial address for delivery.  Also, Royer sells 10 for $250 plus shipping, but I live in Ohio so they are probably not an option.  Are they the only two businesses besides Golden Witch that sell bamboo?  I would like next time to buy a bale, but don't have a business address so the shipping would probably be ridiculous. (Ron Delesky)

    Put together an order with some of the other Ohio builders, there are many. Splitting the shipping and finding a commercial location to deliver to should not be a problem.

    One thing Ron Barch of The Planing Form is a big advocate of, is fellow rodmakers working together and sharing resources.  This is a great idea and one I try to work with.  (Scott Grady)

    You can avoid the lack of a business address problem by having it shipped to your local motor freight terminal for a "will call" pickup.  I have done this on a number of large items over the years.  Of course they will expect you to pick it up and get it out of their yard pronto.  It would be helpful to have a sturdy vehicle with a roof rack available.  A bundle of 12 foot poles is not light and it doesn't sit well on the ski rack of a Prius.   Don't ask.  (Rick Hodges)

    The commercial address is for unloading a large and very heavy bundle of bamboo that are the full 12 foot lengths (not cut).  General trucking companies need an unloading dock or fork lift for handling these larger and somewhat difficult to handle bales.  (Frank Paul)

    Try Peter @ Bamboo Expressions.  Living in the middle, like we do, it's tough, shipping and all,  but he's a great guy and very fair.  Worth a try, anyway.   (Bob Brockett)

    Check with Peter Jones up in Frederic, MI.  He had a stockpile of them, and I think he was selling culms.  (Mark Wendt)

    Neither company makes you ship to a business.  They suggest it so you can save money.  Find a local business and ask if you could have it sent to them for a few hours.  If not, be ready to pay an extra 125-150 to have it delivered to your house.  (Don Peet)

      If the bamboo is shipping via Fed Ex, you can have it shipped to the Fed Ex terminal and pick it up there.  I think I am right on this.  (Grant Adkins)

      I moved to Vermont last year and order a shipment from Royer having it shipped to a local moving and storage company here.  It arrived in perfect condition and had barely any splits.  The moving company treated like it was precious and valuable commodity, which it was.  The employees there all had bets on what I was going to do with it.  Even though this is Vermont, none of them guessed right.  (Ron Kubica)

      Another option is to work a deal with a local business such as a fly shop or hardware store to take delivery for you.  (Larry Puckett)


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