Podcast: All About Bamboo Fly Rods, with Shawn Brillon

[Interview begins at 45:00]

Want to know how a bamboo fly rod is made? How long it takes to make one? How many different hands touch an Orvis bamboo fly rod before you (and your children and grandchildren) become its lucky owner? And finally, what’s so great about bamboo fly rods? How are they different from fiberglass and graphite, and what will they do for you on the water? This week, I interview Orvis bamboo-fly-rod craftsman Shawn Brillon, who loves to talk about bamboo rods as much as he enjoys making and fishing them.

In the Fly Box, we have some great questions and tips from listeners, including:

  • I could catch rising trout in one part of a pool, but when I moved 50 meters upstream I couldn’t catch any. What was going on?
  • How do I determine the correct size leader if I am going from a single size 16 fly to a hopper or multiple nymph rig?
  • What are your thoughts on weed guards on flies?
  • I caught a dragonfly on my elk hair caddis. Am I the first?
  • I hooked a trout in the corner of the mouth and even with a barbless hook it bled and looked like it would die. Would it have been better if I left the fly in the fish?
  • I have been fishing with an 8-weight shooting head outfit for striped bass and halibut. I want to catch corbina but I hear they are spooky. Do you think my 8-weight is too heavy?
  • I keep seeing these large fish rising in a heavily pressured river but can’t catch them on any multi-fly rig. What can I do to fool these fish?
  • What do you do to stay in shape for fishing?
  • What are the advantages of a big dry fly over a bobber?
  • Does bead size really matter regarding attractiveness to trout? And is there a seasonality to what color beads you should use?
  • I have been catching catfish on a fly. Does anyone else do this and is it a “thing” or is it bycatch?
  • I went to Banff to fish and they required that all my tackle, including lines and leaders, could not have been used for 45 days and had to be cleaned and treated. What do you think about the potential for things like lines and leaders to transfer invasive species?
Shawn Brillon in the Orvis bamboo-rod shop in Manchester, Vermont.

4 thoughts on “Podcast: All About Bamboo Fly Rods, with Shawn Brillon”

  1. I enjoyed listening to your podcast on bamboo flyrods. My uncle gave me an Orvis bamboo rod he built sometime in the early 60’s. The rod a 2 piece Battenkill 7 and 1/2 foot. 3 and 7/8 #5. The rod was built by my uncle Ron Erlandson. I was wondering if you had any information regarding the blanks. Any information would be interesting and appreciated.

    1. Orvis sold what was known as a kit rod, basically the blank with ferrules installed and fit. Came with the reel seat, grip, guides and silk thread. Tell tale markings are the absence of serial number at ferrule locations on tip and butt. Rods built in the Orvis shop would have a serial number at the ferrule locations.

  2. I enjoyed the podcast. I appreciate the great repair service l’ve recieved for my Far and Fine and other rods. I’m curious about waxing bamboo rods. What brand of wax does Shawn recommend.

    1. Lynn-
      I like Renaissance wax. You can find it on Amazon or Google Renaissance micro- crystalline wax polish.

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