“All good things– trout as well as eternal salvation– come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy”
Norman MacLean, A River Runs Thru It
I earn a living and a life hanging on to a busy Seattle fire truck and from splitting and wrapping bamboo into fly rods. It is a stretch to identify my working-self as anything more than a tradesman, certainly not an artist. A blue collar life, I have to shower after work. Not before. At the same time, there is some impulse toward art; the attempt to mend ideals, aesthetics and craft into something of value and use; and to make it beautiful.
If a Shuksan split-cane fly rod is anything, it is just and only that. The rod is tool of utility and purpose. Yet, each rod is made in the end to be retired and passed down as a symbol and a reflection of its owner’s wonder for trout and alpine rivers, and the high country he dreams Home. For that reason, the rod is made to last.
Each rod is custom made. And they are made to be more than just a fly rod.
Each rod starts from a single culm of Tonkin bamboo. The culm is tempered over an open fire, which allows me to control the ‘look’ of the rod, from a honey blond color to deep espresso hues, or a combination of both. Next the culm is hand split and hand planed into tapered strips, glued together, and wrapped with Pearsall’s silk. No machinery is used in the process, the rod is truely and entirely handmade. Each silk is entirely custom dyed a color to compliment the rod. No two rods are the same. The make takes approximately eighty-hours, plus extensive cure times for the glues and the varnish. Finished rods are dipped in the highest grade marine spar to seal the cane, protect it and yield a durable finish. It takes nearly 6 months for the varnish to fully cure; this slow cure allows the spar to maintain flexibility, while at the same time curing to a durable finish nearly has hard as glass.