Keystone Fly Rod Co.

My local fly shop, International Angler, has interesting guests come in occasionally on weekends to give short, informal presentations on all things fly fishing. This previous Sunday Don Ward of the Keystone Fly Rod Company stopped in to take up the daunting task of explaining the split cane bamboo rod making process in just under 2 hours. Don did an excellent job explaining the steps…from splitting culms, to node staggering, flaming, planing, binding, heat treating, etc.

Start from the start...Don splitting a culm of bamboo.

Start from the start…Don splitting a culm of bamboo.


One of the nice things about the demonstration was that Don brought a lot of the tooling required to make a rod. Everything from his Garrison-style binder to the almighty planing forms. I would describe Don’s approach to making as unpretentious and practical. He seems to take great pride in building high quality, beautiful fishing rods. Be sure to check out Keystone Fly Rod Co. online.
Binding ain't easy...unless you have a Garrison-style binder.

Binding ain’t easy…unless you have a Garrison-style binder.


I hope everyone has a great holiday and new year. Thanks for checking in.

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5 thoughts on “Keystone Fly Rod Co.

  1. That’s awesome! I wish we had something like that around here. I just ordered some books on building cane rods to keep me busy through the holidays. Would love to try my hands at this craft.

  2. Hi Jacob. I’ve read “Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods” by Wayne Cattanach and “Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly-rod” by Maurer and Elser. I highly recommend them both. You’re in NY right? I’d be willing to bet that there are makers around that you could talk to. There is usually a Catskill Bamboo Rod Makers gathereing every year but I think it’s in the Fall. You should look into it.

      • Hi Bill, the pictures look great. I have 2 questions for you…what kind of forms are you using…and did you bind those strips using a Medalist? Great looking rods.

      • I use forms from Larry Swearingin, for standard forms they’re pretty sweet cause you can open them up to make some fairly dramatic swells. Yes sir a good old medalist serves as my binder I’ve since mounted on, and this is classy high end mind you, an old dresser drawer and added a pvc pipe cut in half to act as my support arms. Believe it or not two rods have come out of it since the arms with absolutely no twisting and any bends were put in by my careless hands. There is alot of high priced stuff out there you don’t need to make fine cane rods. Take my oven for example, everyone swears by 6 inch heating duct but yet they complain about keeping even temperatures so I went with 8″ duct work and my oven will hold at any temp I want it to, although I’ve only got it up to 350 and use it at 175 for an hour and a half while I’m kicking off the glue and heat treating at the same time. I don’t use a beveler either, I tried the rough forms and didn’t like them so I rough and I mean its a rough 60 degree angle with a bench top belt sander then its all done by hand. That said I can get a blank ready to dip in three days and that’s taking my time. In the future I will add a beveler but to start out its not necessary. The most exspensive aspect of this is the shipping prices for a bundle of culms, that was murder! So far I’ve made a 4’4″ Bantybased off a Payne taper, a Payne 79 6wt, a Letort 40 8′ 4wt and a Clark’s Creek 7’6″ 5wt but that I built with my teacher and friend, with a little more automation involved. You though tying flies was addicting once you start planning cane forget it its all you’ll want to do!

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