SOUTH PORTLAND — Bamboo fly rods run upward of $1,500 and $2,000. That’s not the kind of cottage industry that would make it in a poor economy. Unless you’re in Maine.
Recently, four of Maine’s most prolific bamboo fly rod makers gathered to teach, talk and maybe preach bamboo fly rod making at Maine’s first Fly Fishing Show. And convert after convert stopped at their display tables to ask about the naturally grown material that forms the rods, the silk thread that colors the guides, the process that takes up to 40 hours to produce a beautiful and effective fishing tool.
“His waiting list extends beyond his life span,” said Kathy Scott, wife of bamboo fly rod maker David Van Burgel.
It’s a hobby for these craftsmen who are dentists, engineers, teachers and yes, fishermen.
But it’s a calling more than a pastime. Their work is both part of the thread of history and a celebration of their sport.
“It’s like a disease,” said Joel Anderson of Auburn, who made his first bamboo fly rod in 2006.