Introducing the World’s First Truly Affordable Bamboo Fly Rod

Orvis has been making fine bamboo fly rods for almost 150 years, and even in today’s high-tech world, these angling tools are prized as the ultimate in craftsmanship. For many fly fishers, their first split-cane rod is a sign that they have achieved a high level of proficiency and acquired a finer appreciation for the tools of the trade.

There’s just one problem: Because creating a bamboo fly rod requires rare skill, materials from overseas, specialized equipment, and hundreds of hours of the rodmaker’s time, the finished product can be quite expensive. Many fly fishers–no matter how proficient–are simply priced out of the bamboo market. Until now.

Orvis bamboo-rod craftsman Shawn Brillon painstakingly builds split-cane rods in his Manchester, Vermont shop.

Introducing the Orvis HG Bamboo Fly Rod! A triumph of science and craftsmanship, this new rod puts bamboo within reach of every angler, and it makes a great project for the whole family to enjoy. The HG is for “home grown,” because you actually start with a seed and grow a complete bamboo fly rod from scratch.

A Chance Meeting

Orvis’s highly skilled bamboo-rod craftsman, Shawn Brillon, grew up just two towns south of the Orvis Rod Shop, and although he loves creating the works of angling art his customers crave, he’s often wondered if there is a way to get bamboo rods in the hands of more fly fishers. A few years ago, at a meeting of the Green Mountain Bulldog Owners Club, Shawn was introduced to Eden Poales, PhD, a researcher at the University of Vermont School of Plant Science. When she learned what Shawn does for a living, Doctor Poales grew animated and spent the whole event picking Shawn’s brain about his job.

Dr. Eden Poales and an assistant explore new plant uses in their lab at the University of Vermont.

It turned out that the focus of her research was how the unique properties of bamboo—it’s the fastest-growing plant in the world—could be combined with advances in biogenetics and cybernetics. She wondered if there were a way to grow a bamboo rod instead of building it; the new science would allow them to “program” the plant to incorporate the metal guides and ferrules, as well. Shawn was incredulous, but intrigued, and the pair began sharing their expertise. It took three years of experimenting, trial-and-error, and product testing, but they actually did it.

Doctor Poales explains how: “We discovered a unique subspecies of bamboo that grows tapered, instead of straight. Then, instead of altering the genetic code of the plant, we add a whole bunch of information to it. [That’s why it’s still considered ‘Non-GMO.’] These additional bio-genetic and metallurgical ‘instructions’ are what turn the regular bamboo culm into an actual fly rod.  The bamboo plant undergoes its regular fast growth, while all the other parts of the rod form around it. The science is proprietary, of course, so we can’t go into the details.”

Affordable Elegance

As a result, these rods grow to their predetermined size, straight from the soil, in about 90 days. All you need to do is attach the grip and reel seat, which are included in the Orvis HG kit, and add a reel of your choice. If you’ve planted the seed on Christmas Day, you’ll ready to start casting a Blue-winged Olive to rising trout in late March. You’ll be astonished by the slow, smooth action, which rivals some of the expensive hand-constructed rods from well-known craftsmen. When you’re out on the stream with your Orvis HG, you’ll be the envy of every other angler who sees you laying out delicate, accurate casts.

The best part? Because so much of what goes into the traditional cane-rod-making process has been cut out, the cost of materials, shipping, time, and labor are not passed on to the consumer. You can be a member of the ‘Boo Club for just $99.99!

Available in 7, 71/2, and 8-foot lengths, each fly-rod grow kit includes a seed packet, plant food, cork grip, reel seat, rod tube, and complete instructions.

Click here to learn more or to order your Orvis HG kit today!

65 thoughts on “Introducing the World’s First Truly Affordable Bamboo Fly Rod”

    1. Ok, I’m an April fool. Really thought this was a project to grow bamboo, dry it then form the rod with a specialty knife kit to form the rod. Was thinking, hey this would be a fun, a nice, slow project to start a new hobby. I should have known that most likely, the bamboo would need machining and gluing together to form a blank, then the complex angles cut/ formed to make a perfectly straight fishing tool. Darn it ! Thought I was gonna get this kit and have something to pass down to my Grandkids as a keepsake. The only thing I’ll be passing on will be a lesson on being vulnerable. Orvis, you made me read and watch the video, marketing genius!

      1. I’m not too proud to say I went through the exact same thought process, John…right down to the grandkids.

    2. Started to reach for my credit card and then had some thoughts: I know a little about how bamboo fly rods are made and there are a lot of steps in the process- guide placement and wrapping, on and on etc etc. Lightbulbs! Peche de Avril, as my French fly fishing friends would say!

  1. Reminded me of the time my brother and I built a fly rod from a kit purchased from Orvis when graphite rods were first being introduced. So even though this homegrown bamboo fly rod story is written tongue in cheek, it brought back fond memories.

  2. Great Job Orvis !!!
    I talked my wife into buying me a bamboo kit !!
    Boy she’s gonna be pissed !!!

      1. absolutely can be a disaster in the making!!! do not plant bamboo in your yard you may regret it!!! Like I did!!!!

  3. Please add this to my my cart. I’m planning a trip to Alaska in August, if it ships right away, the rod should be fully grown, right?

  4. I’m Hooked!
    Nice presentation and perfect form….waiting until just the right moment to set the hook!

  5. send me the cork grip, reel seat and rod tube for $99.99 you can forget the bamboo seeds or just send me sun flower seeds instead

  6. Bamboo warning: Bamboo grows and spreads very quickly, so, within a few months, your bamboo rod planting will become a bamboo rod forest.
    Omitted data is that this Genetically Engineered bamboo is SO good that if you harvest at 2 1/2 months, you get a 3 weight. Wait until 3 months and it’s a 5 weight, at 4 months you have an 8 weight – absolutely amazing.
    The BIG problem here is that, when word gets out (fly fishers are terrible gossips and you just can’t keep a secret), you’ll have fly anglers from far and wide sneaking into your bamboo forest at night to steal a free bamboo rod especially because the rod grows its own metallic guides and tip! IF you decide to do a planting, please let me know your address so that I can come by at midnight and, erm….. “admire” your grove.

  7. I would imagine that a fine Orvis heritage side by side will be released in exactly one year, simple genetic editing of Circassian Walnut, using the same process, should produce a useful example in 6 months or so, just in time for the heart of bird seasons.

  8. Actually, this is not a new technique. I did the same with fiberglass some years ago. Wanting a new fly rod as a teen with little money, I carefully cut a nine and one half foot by four inch section from my Father’s 1967 Penske Edition Corvette Stingray. As he absolutely loved that car, I did so from beneath the passenger side rocker panel where it would not be so easily noticed. Then, using a torch and at least two dozen c-clamps, I heated, bent and rolled that fiberglass around a makeshift mandrel. Lacking a proper mandrel I striped the guides from an old cane fly rod my Grandfather had passed on to me. I think it was called a Leonard or something similar. Thinking time would “set” the fiberglass to the proper taper and flex, I kept the whole thing wrapped up and lying in the sun. I would occasionally slip the mandrel out to test the rod’s flex, this happening every few moths for the last 47 years. Finally just last fall I arrived at the correct flex. I removed the mandrel (and broke it up for stove kindling), attached those old Leonard guides and handle to my new rod and now have something of real value. Although a bit heavy at 1.7 pounds, it will cast a doubled-up 12-wt line like a champ. And, I likely have the only 1967 Corvette Monza Red fly rod on the river! As today is opening day for trout here in Maine, I am heading over to Grand Lake Stream to try it out, casting some Grey Ghost streamers tied on tuna hooks. Oh, to answer the obvious question on your minds; no, my Father never did notice that missing 9’ by 4” section. As he never changed his own oil he never went beneath that car. When he died I inherited that Corvette. A little screen mesh, some Bondo and Monza Red paint and I have a car that matches my rod.

  9. Based on my experience with teaching my Turkish walnut trees to grow side by side steel tubes and 3D print the finest lock mechanisms, I was given an early sample of the seeds to experiment with. Unfortunately, they were eaten by my Andalusian blue roosters who’s neck feathers grow wrapped around steel wire.

  10. I’m still confused on how to grow the guides, handle, and reel seat. Could you elaborate further on that process?

    . 😉

  11. Ya got me you boot lickers. Ordinarily I’m the prankster but i read this with amazement until the very end. Great job. Still laughing and feeling foolish. BTW my dear departed Dad fished with Orvis bamboos for years. Taught me to fish on one. When I wanted my own he said nope, cost too much and you’ll just break it.

  12. You guys suck… I was just about to stop in at Reelflyrod and pick up a Recon 5wt but not now, nope.. no way.

  13. You would have had me fly, tippet and leader, but I’m already growing Carbon Rod blanks from sprouted pencil stubs. What we really need is homegrown cork or a cork substitute, perhaps we can cross the rubber tree plant and balsa wood trees. 🙂

  14. I was all in till the weather this spring turned deadly. I could see my bamboo garden being hit by a tornado and all my tapered bamboo plants turning into deadly spears when uprooted and propelled by 100mph winds, oh the humanity of it! They could fly for incredible miles till they impaled innocent men women and children.
    Luckily I hesitated and saved hundreds of lives. No need to thank me, I can sleep at night, but it was close.
    Jim in Atlantic Beach.

  15. Well, as a sort-of scientist, and having built bamboo rods, and fished them for over 60 years, my BS detector went on alert after the first paragraph.

    But, a damn good one.

  16. I hear that Scientific Anglers has been developing a strain of spiders that spin a perfect 3wt camo line with a triangle taper…………..
    Just sayin….

  17. This is incredible lol … the part about how it’s still considered Non-GMO kind of give it away. Extremely well written , but 90 days for a 7wt … we have to shorten the wait time by using some fertilizer made of caddis larva.

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