Bamboo Fly Rods blog by Jon Lyman
Photos courtesy of Jon Lyman

bamboo fly rods

A bamboo fly rod is an heirloom to pass down generationally.

With 20 years of Alaska experience building and fishing bamboo rods, I build each rod from scratch in Juneau, Alaska. My attention to detail and commitment to the flyfishing experience assures you that I put my very best effort into each rod. As a one person shop I take responsibility for every step, from the selection of the bamboo culm to making my custom rod socks.

The Alaska Traveler series are three-piece rods with two tips to enhance your experience of flyfishing bamboo in Alaska. They are designed and built in Alaska to handle our extreme conditions and aggressive fish. Offered from five- to eight-weight, my Alaska-built Tonkin bamboo rods come with a lifetime guarantee and options for sterling-silver furniture to personalize your rod as a family heirloom.

A finished bamboo rod combines form and function.

I design and build rods to handle our big, aggressive fish. My Alaska Traveler rods differ from others in that they are durable bamboo rods that pack into smaller cases, deliver faster casts and handle the large flies we throw to steelhead and salmon. Even so, they maintain the sweet cast and action that characterizes bamboo. Landing an Alaska trophy trout or salmon on one of my bamboo rods is an experience you are sure to treasure.

bamboo fly rods

Custom hardware is part of what makes each rod a work of art.

Each bamboo fly rod takes six months to build and features agate stripping guides, cork handles, exotic-wood reel seats, nickel-silver and sterling-silver hardware, and fine silk wraps. I make reel cups and rings from nickel silver and old sterling silver, and incorporates new old-stock materials when possible in my rod art. I wrote the column on the history of flyfishing for ten years in Flyfisher magazine. I try to incorporate our sport’s ancient history into my rods. From start to finish, a bamboo rod involves over 600 unique steps and may take fifty hours of handwork. The incredibly durable finish alone involves over a week of work on each rod, with the varnish hardening for three months before delivery.

Here’s another example of custom furniture for your custom rod.

I build bamboo fly rods from 2- to 9-weight, in two- and three-piece configurations. I offer a selection of rods, including the Alaska Traveler, completed with the most popular colors of silk and selections of silver for those who need a rod now. If you can wait, I offer custom rods with sterling-silver bands and rings you choose from my collection. Rods finished on pre-built blanks require three months for delivery, while full custom rods take six- to eight months. Many customers have told me that the rod is worth the wait.

bamboo fly rods

My collection of nickel-silver and sterling-silver hardware is extensive.

Matt Rider is a customer of mine who lives in Colorado and received a 5-weight, 3-piece, 2-tip rod from his wife as a gift. Matt has been using the rod selectively for dollies and cutthroat in Juneau creeks. Fishing for cutts behind incoming coho at Cowee Creek, he tied into several coho salmon. The little rod did well! Here’s what he had to say, “These rods are built with decades of experience and stories, love and passion for the art of flyfishing. My rod has a soul that lives and breathes through each cast and presentation. A rod that yearns to make its own stories  like the ones that came before… A fun brush to the art of flyfishing!”


If flyfishing is your passion, fish beautifully, fish bamboo. Visit his website here for additional information or email him.