Flashback Friday Supplement: Help Identify This Unmarked Bamboo Rod!

Went to the feed store the other day and decided to make the trip over Terrible Mountain worthwhile by stopping in at one of my favorite antique “malls” in search of material for a future Flashback Friday feature. I found a few not-so-old issues of Outdoor Life, two USDA Yearbooks I don’t already have in my collection (1928 & 1935), a cool old snapshot from a fishing camp in 1924 and a partial set of the 1916 Audubon Society Pocket Bird Collection Educational Leaflets.

"Headquarters Camp, Wakely Pond NY, 1924"

In the corner of one of the last booths I visited I noticed a beat up rod tube, missing the top, with a price tag sticking out that read “Fish Pole $XX”. Tacked to the wall of the booth was a sign that read “20% OFF CASH SALES” which brought the price down to “$YY” if I wanted said fish pole.

The label on the tube indicated it originally held a bait casting rod but what came out is definitely not a bait caster.

I have been “warned” by some who know more than I do to stay away from certain makes and models of old bamboo rods for any number of reasons but, with the overall condition of this one, not to mention the price ($YY = less than what was in my pocket), I couldn’t resist. I know finding a real treasure is a longshot at places like this but the best deals often come from others who don’t know what they have, and seeing that this one was marked “Fish Pole” rather than “Classic Antique Bamboo Fly Rod” got my attention. It looks to be in good shape and I am going to fish with it, no matter what, but I have no idea what make of rod this is and am looking for some help figuring out just what I have.

(In some of these shots the rod appears to be bent or have a “set”. This is an illusion due to a combination of amateur lighting, a wide angle lens and a card table with a serious sag. The rod is straight.)

It is a three-piece, 9-ft rod, with an extra tip but one tip is an inch longer than the other. The shorter of the two appears to have been repaired and has a smaller diameter than the other. The longer one looks to have a new male end. The tip top guides are different and the spacing between the guides is different on each of these sections, leading me to wonder if one tip is not the original (one tip is also much cleaner than the other). The thread wraps are the same red with black bands on all sections.

The guides on the two tip sections (bottom) are set up differently

With a different color thread, the hook keeper looks to be a later addition?

I can not find any identifying marks on the reel seat, butt section or ferrules.


Judging by the grip, this rod has seen some service. I am looking forward to fishing with it, no matter its age or maker. In fact, I would almost rather know more about the person who fished it than the person who made it. It was the angler who gave life to the craftsman’s work. It could very well be one of those mass produced rods everyone says to stay away from but even those el-cheapos were fished with and loved.


I will form my own opinion of how it fishes this spring (and let you know), thank you very much. Its value to a “collector” is not important to me and I know better than to think it could be the early work of a master, before he started signing his stuff but, whatever it is, it is done sitting in the corner of a booth in a small Vermont town. It won’t hang on a wall, either. After who knows how long, this rod is going fishing again. That’s what it was made for.

I suppose, if nothing else, it would make a fine marshmallow toasting stick. Our little village market sells marshmallow roasting “kits” — a bag of marshmallows and four skinny dowels — to the people from other places for not much more than I paid for this rod!

Let me know if those thread wraps, the color scheme or hardware on this rod look familiar!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Fly Fishing | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Flashback Friday Supplement: Help Identify This Unmarked Bamboo Rod!

  1. Have you thought of that this could well be a Swedish build rod, I have one that is early 1900 and it does look very much the way you are describing. Can you see what type of thread is used for the binding of the eyes?

  2. I am open to all possibilities with this. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to tell one type of thread from another. Do you mean silk vs others? I’ll have to look into that. I’ve already learned a lot today while researching this!

    (Hey, everyone! Check out the link in flyfishingdalarna’s name above. Sweden and Finland! I love the internet!)

  3. I’m not sure what kind of rod it is, but if you only spent $YY for it, that’s a steal.

  4. Have you managed to find out more about the rod?

  5. I have not learned any more about this rod but in a month I will have a large group of experts — and guys who think they know what they are talking about — on hand when the season opens here at Fish in a Barrel Pond. I look forward to learning more and sharing it in a future post.

  6. Robert Reid

    Willis Reid says “Looks like a South Bend.”

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