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Determining the weight of a bamboo rod

2015/6/30 20:51
From SW PA
Posts: 82
My next door neighbor gave me a bamboo fly rod a few weeks ago. He was cleaning out some old storage rooms of his and came across the rod that was his father’s and knowing that I fly fish and would appreciate it, he kindly passed it along to me.

I looked up some info on it online, it’s a Japanese rod that seems to be a tourist kit/souvenir item from the mid 1950’s. The rod came with a balsa wood case that has some compartments that are holding some flies and some unused catgut leaders that are dry rotten. The handle of the rod pops off the end of the rod and can be put on backwards so that the rod can be used as a spinning rod when the spinning rod tip is used. It is a two section long spinning rod and a three section long fly rod - and it has a spare top section for the fly rod too.

It doesn’t seem like I be extraordinarily valuable (~$150) and I would like to fish it this summer, but it doesn’t have a weight rating. So I looked up how to determine the weight and I came across this method: How to find the weight of a bamboo fly rod

You basically measure the rod length in inches (it was 86” for my rod) and divide that value by 10. Then you affix the rod horizontally and add weight and to the tip until it deflects the rod by the amount you get when the length is divided by 10 (8.6” for mine). Then you weigh the amount of weight needed for this deflection in grams (it was 20 grams for me) and then divide the weight by the 8.6. I got a value of 2.325 which puts it as a 6 weight according to the chart on the website...

I trust my measurements and calculations, however my concern is that the rod seems SO soft and whippy - it seems like a wet noodle!!! The rod tip deflected under its own weight a few inches when I set it up to add weight to it for the deflection measurement.

Is it common for bamboo rods to be so soft?

I believe this rod was stored in an outdoor storage unit for years and I wouldn’t be surprised if there has been some damage done to the rod by overheating during the summer months.

I have never fished with a bamboo rod so I have nothing to compare this feeling to. I was figuring on pairing the rod with a 5 weight line since from everything I’ve read, it seems like line weights are heavier than they were in years past.

I am just a little worried about breaking this rod just by casting it, let alone if I am lucky enough to hook into a 8-10 inch fish. Are bamboo rods typically really REALLY soft feeling? And do you think that the heat of a storage unit could damage the strength/integrity of a rod?

Thanks for any input!

Posted on: 5/14 22:05

Re: Determining the weight of a bamboo rod

2009/11/5 1:46
Posts: 298
You're being optimistic if you think you could get $150 for a rod from "Occupied Japan" They were made by the thousands for GI's to take home, as you surmised, as souvenirs. The probable value is more like $40, on a good day.

The problem with them is that while Japan had plenty of bamboo after the war, it was the wrong kind for making fly rods (there's something like 250 different species of bamboo, the good stuff only grows in the Tonkin region of China.)

OTOH, some of the Japanese rods were fishable, if only by accident. You've got nothing to lose by trying this one out. A six weight is probably about right, since the most common "weight" back in those days. "Weight" is in quotes because lines were measured by diameter before the 60's. The most common rods were made for an HDH line, which is roughly equivalent to DT 6, although many fish as well or better with a 5.

It's not unusual for even a good cane rod to droop a bit when held horizontal, but several inches seems like a lot. And no, not all cane rods are soft feeling.

As I said, though, you don't have much to lose by trying it. I have a Japanese rod that came with a reel that I wanted that turned out to be quite adequate as a fishing tool. (The rod and reel cost me $30, and the reel was worth that, so you know how valuable the rod is.)

Posted on: 5/14 22:38

Re: Determining the weight of a bamboo rod

2007/10/7 0:44
From philadelphia
Posts: 225
more likely than not,it is a six weight.

i would start with a six and work up.i doubt you would have to work down.

good luck.

Posted on: 5/14 23:57

Re: Determining the weight of a bamboo rod

2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 602
I have a few of those rods, one of them is a decent rod to fish, another one came delaminated from the glue drying out. I glued the strips back together, but never got around to rewrapping the guides on it. maybe someday. I'd say fish it, have fun with it, if it falls apart, so be it. Bamboo is very repairable though and fun to work on, it's a great way to get into rod building.

Posted on: 5/15 6:48

Re: Determining the weight of a bamboo rod

2015/6/30 20:51
From SW PA
Posts: 82
Thanks for the responses.

Redietz I believe you when you say that it might be closer to $40 on a good day. I looked up some of them on eBay and saw them posted for $100 to $200, but I realize that just because that’s what they were asking, it doesn’t mean that is what somebody would be willing to pay...

Thanks also for the info on the how a bamboo rod can feel. I do intend to fish it figuring that I have nothing to lose. I appreciate the input because I am hoping to not break this old rod by over-stressing it with too heavy of a line.

I’ll report back on how it fished once I get the opportunity to give it a go.

Posted on: 5/16 21:07

Re: Determining the weight of a bamboo rod
2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
Posts: 2835
Good luck with that rod. My suggestion is to try different weight lines on it to find the weight that casts best for you. I'm sure you have a 5 weight line and reel setup. Try casting it with your rod. If it feels underlined go up a line weight or overlined go down one line weight.

I wouldn't worry about breaking the rod by overlining it by a few weight ratings. Stripping out or stripping in 4' or 5' of line is equivalent to going up or down a line weight. The whole thing is on a sliding scale.
If the rod breaks, it's because it wasn't sound in the first place, not because it was overlined.

Posted on: 5/17 7:29

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