Is Sage Dissin' Cane Crafters?
Last week, I took a look at the new Western Flyfisher magazine that published its premiere issue via the Internet. I pointed out that this new 'magazine' has the ability to offer video links for both informational and advertising purposes. One advertiser, Sage, has taken this opportunity to provide a video which mostly explains how Sage constructs their fishing rods. I decided to have a look at this video. I rather enjoyed the opening clips of rod designer Gerry Siems casting in a pond, but was taken aback by Siem's comments. During the introductory part of this video, Siems says, "Building a bamboo rod is demanding. It is a high degree of selection in getting bamboo that enables a builder to build a gorgeous rod. I think a lot of it is cosmetic. The performance of a bamboo rod is somewhat limited because the rod inherently has considerable weight." Siems goes on to suggest that a bamboo rod builder cannot build a powerful rod.
My first thoughts were, "What is this guy talking about?" Then, I began to wonder if Sage somehow believes that their major competition are the fine craftsmen of bamboo rods. Why in the world would the be trying to make a comparison between their fly fishing rods, made of graphite, and a craft that has been around for over a hundred years, usually involving a single individual in his home shop, who has a great deal of dedication and spends many hours perfecting one rod before it is sold?
Sage does make some nice rods. I own one. My Sage 2 wt. is the rod I take along to fish small streams and creeks. It has been delightful to have it in hand while playing a pretty 13" brookie. So, I certainly have nothing against the products that Sage makes. Of course, there are many other terrific graphite rodmakers - I own a couple of excellent rods that were built on Talon blanks, a G. Loomis rod that I use when casting larger poppers to bass, and an old Lamiglas fibreglass model that has been virtually indestructible and has provided me with many hours of fishing pleasure. There is no way that I could ever say that one is any better than the other - I like them all for different situations.
Later in the video, Siems goes on to compare Sage rods to those built by cane craftsmen. He says "We don't build rods one at a time like as maybe a bamboo rod builder would and look at them as one rod...I think it's tougher to build five hundred rods and have 'em be identical than maybe it is to build one rod that is fabulous and another rod that maybe is just not quite the same."
Surely you jest, Mr. Siems!
If I owned a split cane rod, I would most definitely use it too. Regardless of what Mr. Siems' opinion is of bamboo rods, I know that a well made cane rod, that has been crafted by a bamboo master with his hands, his mind and his soul, is as good and perhaps in some situations, superior, than any blank that comes out of the Sage factory. I would bet that Mr. Siems knows that too.
I called the Sage head office a couple of times to ask Siems for any further comments he might have, but he was not available.
It is most certainly true that graphite does have its advantages over cane. But, not all fly anglers believe that the advantage of lightness is enough to suggest that a bamboo rod belongs to days of old. Purely cosmetic? Ask the fly fisher who chooses to fish exclusively with a split cane rod, after 8 hours of fishing if it was the cosmetics that kept him casting all day.
New 'Magazine' Hits The Net
My review of the Western Flyfisher
Cane Rod Makers
Disagree with Sage and want your own bamboo rod? Here's a list of cane crafters.
The website for Sage.
I own a couple of Talon graphite rods and love them!
I also own some Loomis rods, both fly and spinning.
A graphite and fibreglass rod manufacturer that is very supportive of the custom rod building craft.
Last Week On All-About Flyfishing:
New Magazine Hits The 'Net
My review of the Western Flyfisher.
About's Second Fly Swap
Looking for some new fly patterns? Take a look at the latest swap's flies! Some nice nymphs, streamers, and more.
New Rod Choices
Miss the old fibreglass rods? How about a new rod that contains a Titanium tube attached? Maybe a Spey rod is what you are looking for. New products introduced by Lamiglas this month.
Last Year On All-About Flyfishing:
Custom Rod Component Selection (Part II)
Snakes VS. SiC guides. Which ones are for you?
Custom Rod Component Selection (Part 1)
Some things you should think about before choosing the grip and reel seat for your custom rod.
Two Years Ago On All-About Flyfishing:
Fishing Rods: An Overview (Part One)
An introduction to our multi-part series on the history and present manufacturing of fly rods.