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By Thomas Weiergang



By Mikel Elexpuru

THE RESURGENCE OF BAMBOO FLY RODS 34 By Chris Clemes & J.M. Ruiz de Cenzano




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Pitfalls and snakes in paradise By Thomas Weiergang

Although the Chilean Patagonia is definitely a paradise on earth, there are pitfalls for the traveling Do It Yourself fly fisher. If you are prepared for this, you can put together a Once-in-a-lifetime trip on your own, with no lodges, no guides, less hassle, lots of fish with just a little help from your friends...

If you are prepared for things such as Private property, Howling winds, high or low water, you can put together a spectacular trip to Chilean Patagonia on your own, but if you can get help from the locals, it's a gift from above that will make things so much easier. Villa O'Higgins is one of the last unspoiled places in Patagonia where you will find pristine fishing that you can access easily and cheaply.

Stormfront Your dream scenario might be sunny skies, no wind, rising fish and a dry fly paradise. But there is no such thing as predictable weather in these parts. We suffered howling winds, lashing rain that actually forced us indoors a couple of days. We still got on the water the days the weather was only mildly ridiculous.

Bellyboat=success The problem on most lakes is bankside vegetation and reeds, but once you’re in a bellyboat, a whole world is open for you to explore. Nymphs, streamers and especially dragonfly imitations fished on sinking lines is a sure way to success. If you can get on the water – you can fish it.

Private! You can’t just fish any likely looking spot. Private property is the prevailing problem everywhere and privatization is growing in these parts. It’s therefore essential that you ask around in order to check your possibilities. Ask the locals, if you can, they can often help you onto some cousin’s private lake. We did, and spent a couple of days in paradise on a lake with green crystal water. Imagine a 60 centimetre brown cruising around 4 metres below your bellyboat – when it spots you large bushy dry fly, it explodes like a missile and launches itself in a savage assault on your fly. Such an experience will be well worth all the hassle of getting the bellyboats through airports. - Because it can be a hassle. Make sure that you check your luggage options when you plan your travel.

Sink to the occasion A sinking line is your best friend when the weather is not. On some lakes in the Villa O’Higgins area where we stayed, bank side fishing is possible. It’s not as fun as sight fishing for large browns with a dry dragonfly, and reminds me more of coastal seatrout fishing in march at home, but it damn well beats sitting in a cabin a whole day…

If only‌ The winds would calm down. Some of the more secluded lakes, where the large rainbows roam are only accessed by boat. This year that was out of bounds for us. But it is still possible to get onto some other large lakes where the possibility of a very large rainbow is very real. Ask your local man, he will help you out. It appears that some lakes only hold rainbow trout and the population runs in cycles. This means that the fish reach huge proportions, but a couple of years after, the population crashes, and a new generation of smaller fish sprouts. Maybe because their main diet in those lakes is: rainbow trout? We don’t know, but a similar scenario is often seen in European lakes where zander or pikeperch are abundant.

Info: Villa O’Higgins is a medium sized village at the end of the Carretera Austral. The road to it was opened in recent historic times. It is easy to find good, cheap lodging, and there are convenience stores and restaurants serving local dishes. There is an abundance of lakes in the area. You can access lakes on your own where the fishing for browns in the 40-50 centimetre range is fine. But most of the lakes in the area are more or less inaccessible. To get onto the most interesting ones you will need a bit of guidance. Contact the local outfitter, in the summertime a couple of locals work as guides or simply boatmen. They can help you get on some of the more interesting water. There is free Wifi internet in the village. It’s slow at times, but hey – it’s more than you have in international airports, right?

How to get there and what to do We booked a flight to Balmaceda airport. There are car hire opportunities at the airport, but we booked ours in advance from home. A four wheel vehicle is the most comfortable means of transportation. Especially when you get to the rough parts of the country towards Villa O’Higgins. You can get in contact with the good people of Villa O’Higgins through the tourist webpage. http://www. Contact Alejandro Barrientos Guinau. He speaks a little bit English, but google translate will work wonders as long as the communication is in writing. Don’t hesitate to contact him, if you have further questions. Depending on how you split costs with car hire, and how cheap your plane tickes are, prepare to spend around 2100 to 2400 Euros Living and lodging is cheap in Chile. Most minor towns have a Hospedaje or a cabin for rent.

Thomas Weiergang Painter, illustrator, writer and photographer. His drawings, paintings and images are found in magazines and books across Europe and North America, and on the walls in homes of anglers with good taste. *Check out other great article by Thomas about Seatrout in Denmark (August 2012) in our back issues.

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#9 Buzzer

Many people have asked me “why should I choose a bamboo fly rod?� The answer is not straightforward, both bamboo and carbon rods have advantages in certain situations and the market is full of both of various degrees of quality. To answer this question properly we need to look at the story behind the rise in popularity of bamboo fly rods in the market, as well as their decline with the arrival of modern synthetic materials, and why these materials were introduced. We will also look at how modern bamboo tapers are causing a resurgence in this natural material, easing the transition from faster carbon rod actions.

Let us first look at the history of bamboo and carbon rod making. Up until 1845 solid wood was the most common material for building fly rods. Solid wood fly rods were constructed using many wood varieties the most popular being Lancewood and Dagama from Cuba, Bethabarra from British Guiana, and the South American Greenheart. These woods were chosen for their resilience and flexibility, however they were heavy. With the expansion of the British Empire came the discovery of new and exotic timbers as well as species of Bamboo or Cane. It was not long before those intrepid gentleman explorers began using these materials for the betterment of their own sporting pursuits. Bamboo

is the largest growing species of the grass family and is without doubt the greatest natural rod building material. When properly selected, cured, split, glued, and proportioned, bamboo possesses strength, lightness, resilience, pliancy, power and balance to a greater degree than any solid wood blanks. It is suggested that the first complete hexagonal fly rod was produced using Calcutta cane circa 1859. Before this split cane rods were constructed quadrate in shape, using 4 strips. During the late 1800’s Tonkin cane was discovered growing along the Sui River in the Guandong province of China, this cane was to become prized by rod makers above all others.

Bamboo fly rods would continue to dominate the flyfishing market for decades until the introduction of synthetic fly lines.

Braided silk fly lines were the only choice for the fly fisher during the first half of the twentieth century, however these lines were expensive to produce and were considered high maintenance. The first synthetic fly lines were introduced in the period following World War 2, when the Cortland Line Company introduced their 333 fly line. This was the first fly line where a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coating was applied to a core of braided Nylon, Dacron or Fibreglass. The slickness and buoyancy of the line being determined by the PVC sheath and the inside core determining its strength and flexibility. Combined the sheath and core determine the lines overall diameter and weight. In the case of floating lines the purpose of this manufacturing method was to trap microscopic bubbles within the PVC sheath allowing the lines to float, much the same as a greased silk fly line would. The major benefits of this new manufacturing technique were that the lines were cheaper and easier to control in mass production and required less care in the field. With the arrival of the

new lines a new system of line designation was introduced, meaning the older braided line systems which were based on line diameter were replaced with a modern system based on line weight. The new system developed by the American Fishing Tackle manufacturers Association (AFTMA) required that the first 30 feet of a synthetic line be the same weight as the old silk line designated equivalent. Since natural silk is denser or heavier than the synthetic materials used in modern lines it meant that synthetic lines needed to have a wider diameter, or more bulk, to match equivalent fly rod ratings. The new manufacturing process not only allowed for cheaper production, but what is more important, the added control in production meant that by varying the diameter of the PVC sheath manufacturers could create new weight forward and shooting tapers. Now the modern fly fisher could target new species in new environments which were traditionally not possible this was especially evident in the growth in popularity of saltwater fly fishing.

Modern fly rod manufacturers have kept abreast of these changes by focusing their attention on high-modulus, fastaction carbon rods which now dominate the market. Carbon as a material has allowed for longer, stiffer and lighter rods which allow us to throw longer casts and generate the lines speeds to overcome the added drag of the line and larger or heavier flies. Carbon rods, much like synthetic fly lines, are cheaper and easier to control in mass production and require less care in the field. Today many fly fishers believe that bamboo rods are heavy, fragile and that they have slow actions. However, especially in the traditional realm, this is simply not true. For the purposes of this discussion I would like to focus on this traditional realm of bamboo fly rods namely streams, rivers and small still waters. The main advantage amongst users of carbon rods, is their weight. It is true, given the hollow structure of carbon rods, any comparable 9 foot rod

of more than a 6 weight will be considerably lighter than an equivalent bamboo rod. However, up to 9-foot and less than 6 weight this difference in weight is far less noticeable. A 7'6 5 weight bamboo rod and a modern 8'6 5 weight carbon rod I measured recently differed by only 10 g. Bamboo rods are also remarkably resilient. A modern heat treated and impregnated blank is remarkably resistant to sets and water damage. There have been instances of such rods being left in rivers for months at a time before being reclaimed. Once cleaned these rod blanks were as good as new apart from the handles and components which needed to be replaced. Impregnated blanks have another advantage, that when nicked or scratched one can simply buff them with a smooth cloth to raise the varnish and restore the finish. This nick or scratch could mean the end to a carbon rod blank and usually at an unexpected moment.

Let us now consider the solid structure of bamboo rods. This is an important quality to consider and which is also one of its advantages. The solid nature of bamboo rods gives them greater mass and, as we discussed above, therefore weight than carbon rods, this additional weight makes them very smooth casting throughout the stroke. In addition when a bamboo rod flexes its core fibers become compressed, thus making the rod stronger and giving them a unique loading characteristic or feel, this is particularly evident when roll casting. Carbon rods tend to adopt an oval (weaker) shape under extreme pressure as they lack this internal support. These qualities of bamboo rods mean that you do not need fast line speeds to present a fly a given distance. Take the time to become accustomed to their slow and fluid actions, and let the rod do more of the work. It is important to note that historically bamboo

rod actions were designed to cast braided silk lines in the traditional realm of streams, rivers and small still waters. It is here that these lines have two noticeable advantages over modern synthetic fly lines. First, braided silk fly lines are on average 30% thinner than equivalent modern synthetic fly lines, this 30% reduction in diameter equates to the equivalent of a 69% reduction in surface area and drag, meaning that less effort is required to cast the line a given distance and that they are less affected by windy conditions. Second, braided silk lines being less bulky are also denser than their synthetic brethren and provided that they fall in the same AFTMA class will land more delicately and with less splash than an 'equivalent' synthetic line. These properties combined with the fact that they have little stretch and no memory, give braided silk fly lines unparalleled feel and control, ideally suited to slower actions, and a relaxed cast.

Bamboo is a natural material and remains unchanged. However many new bamboo rod tapers have been developed since the introduction of synthetic lines, and many faster, tippier actions are now available. These actions have been specifically designed to ease the transition from carbon fly rods. At the same time many synthetic fly line manufacturers have developed coatings and tapers which are more suited to these bamboo rod actions. The result is that many fly fishers can now benefit from the best of both worlds, whether they would like a traditional full action bamboo rod which bends all the way to the butt and delivers the fly slowly, or a faster more progressive action. There is also the natural aesthetic beauty of a bamboo fly rod, the honey

colour of the blank, the fine thread wrappings and their beautiful components. The weight, feel and smell of them, the knowledge that someone spent years learning the crafts needed to make this, and then spent weeks making the rod in your hand gives them a substance and character that synthetic rods will never simulate. There is also a subjective benefit I believe bamboo rods offer which is too often overlooked, and that lies in their care. The ritual of wiping down, drying and storing the rod seems justified for something that is built to be passed down from generation to generation. Anyone lucky enough to be passed down a bamboo rod from parent or grandparent should consider the care taken in preserving this rod to this day and the many enjoyable days it has spent in hand on the water.

Therefore, why choose a Bamboo fly rod? The answer simply is that when fly fishing in the traditional realm of streams, rivers and small still waters, where modern actions are not a requirement, they allow for improved casting efficiency, a more delicate presentation and a feel not possible with modern synthetic fly rods. Often viewed as an expensive luxury for the purist, bamboo rods have substance and a character that will serve to enhance your overall fly fishing experience.

Chris Clemes Fly rod and reel makers from England. Their bamboo fly rods are between the finest in the market.

J. M. Ruiz de Cenzano Professional photographer, fly fisherman and bamboo rod maker from Spain.

Back Issues

Have you ever tried to capture a fish feeding on natural flies, with your camera? We do, quite often, and the result is almost always disappointing. Either the fish is out of focus or moving, or the surface of the water creates a subliminal curtain that blurs the sharpness of the image, or the fly that was being taken is hardly visible ... In fact this kind of photography seems extremely complicated, so when Jason Jagger offered part of his exceptional photographic material for publication it in the magazine we did not hesitate for a second.

The Most Difficult to Catch Photographer: Jason Jagger

Jason´s photos are absolutely stunning, trout and char eating natural flies, some of them as small as Diptera. There are even photos that appear to be part of a children's fable, as on the cover of the magazine, where the grasshopper is really mocking the trout. Enjoy these impossible pictures!

T&T (Trout and terrestrials)

T&M (Trout and midges)

C&M (Char and midges)

BS (Breaking the Surface)

T&D (Trout & Duns)

Jason Jagger Raised in Colorado, guiding for 20 years, in Argentina, Chile, Iceland and Colorado. “Been taking images for 7 years, capturing small moments in a fishes day... Most are taken within 2 meters, no polarizer, no tripod, mostly within 20 minutes of my home in NW Colorado.�

Professional Fly Tyer

Contributors in this issue Thomas Weiergang - Chris Clemes - Jason Jagger J. M. Ruiz de Cenzano - John Langridge - Mikel Elexpuru Juan Urán - José L. García - José L. Garrido

E D I T O R S José H. Weigand Angler, photographer and TV fishing editor at Caza y Pesca channel on Digital+ for 14 years. Contributor to some international magazines, blogs and forums.

Antonio Goñi Antonio Goñi, fishing video producer, photographer and angler. Currently producing fly tying series “The Silk corner” at Caza y Pesca channel on Digital+.


Issue #18 from April 1

Flymage Magazine #17 February 2013. English  

Flymage Fly Fishing and Photography Magazine.

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