I was a proud member of the graphite proletariat, shunning bamboo for 30 years, partly because I couldn’t afford bamboo, and partly because I couldn’t understand why anyone would spend what they might spend to buy a used motorcycle, or a Martin or Taylor guitar, or even fly to the Bahamas and actually go bonefishing, on one damn fly rod. I thought bamboo rods were only for a stuffy cult following of old dudes who had too much time and money on their hands.
I never inherited a bamboo rod but eventually had a deal stare me in the face, so I pounced, and bought a Scott SC series rod. And I’ve never looked back, other than to acknowledge that my bamboo epiphany marked a much-needed attitude adjustment.
If you’re going bamboo, the Scott SC series is a safe bet. To be frank, there can be big differences among what your Uncle Harold’s friend, Bob, is willing to whip up for you for $1250, which might very well turn out to be the magic wand you’ve always dreamed of owning. But then again, depending on how good Bob really is, it could be a stunningly beautiful and poorly performing fly rod when you actually want to fish with it. The Scott SC series “production” bamboo rod will be marketed by a reputable rod company and offer consistent performance characteristics along with an “owner-only” warranty.
From the manufacturer: “Continuing our long tradition of partnering with the world’s top split cane rod makers, Scott is pleased to introduce the new three-piece SC rods designed and built in collaboration with Naoki Hashimoto of Hokkaido, Japan.
Scott SC bamboo rods seamlessly integrate the traditions of craftsmanship with the performance innovations of contemporary split cane technology to bring you fly rods that stand the test of time as works of art, and as serious fishing tools.
SC rods feature beautifully figured amboyna burl wood and blued nickel silver reel seats, Snakebrand guides, stripping guides with agate inserts, handmade ferrule plugs and grips shaped from the finest cork. Each rod comes with a pair of matched tip sections.”
I wanted a bamboo rod I could fish, not just look at, and for a maiden voyage, I took the SC 774/3 (7-foot 7-inch 4-weight) fly rod to Tasmania for wild brown trout (up to a few pounds). I figured I’d fish it once or twice during the two weeks I was there, but ended up fishing it the vast majority of the time–only when I was out on the windy lakes, or targeting really large browns that I thought might break any rod, did I revert to graphite.
In “standard” fishing conditions, on “standard-sized” rivers, the rod cast and fished as smooth as silk. Designed and manufactured in collaboration with Naoki Hashimoto of Hokkaido, Japan, this rod actually has a medium-fast action. That means it’s easy to load in short quarters, and was dialed-accurate out to about 40 feet. Although I only fished it with dry flies, I lined the rod with both weight-forward and double-taper lines, and have fished both types many times since. Performance-wise, it’s a wash–whatever line you put on will be fine.
This rod proves that you don’t have to sacrifice any level of “fish-ability” with bamboo (even saying that is disturbing to my cost-conscious soul). It’s a dry-fly rod. Is it a bank-banging hopper rod? No. I’d never fish it from a drift boat, if that meant using any rod holder of any sort. Streamers? Maybe a little bugger, but nah, not so much. Nymphing? If you want to chuck and duck with a bamboo rod, knock yourself out.
I will say this: bamboo fishing is definitely a “thing.” Materials matter, and you feel it when you fish. It’s a different genre, and a different brand of fishing entirely. Are you really able to appreciate that? Totally up to you, and certainly not for me to say.
This is classic, parachute Adams, at feeding fish stuff, where accuracy matters and satisfaction is amplified when you land that fish on an heirloom. That’s what it’s all about, nothing more, nothing less. And what I’m saying is there’s really no safer, smarter, more consistent, more beautiful and better-performing bamboo option I’ve encountered.