Vendor Spotlight: Bamboo Rod Builders

The genesis of the Spinoza Rod Company dates to 1973, when, on the advice of friends, Marc Aroner walked into the Thomas & Thomas Rod Company in Greenfield, Massachusetts hoping to find someone who could repair his recently broken fiberglass fly rod. There he met bamboo rodmakers Tom Maxwell and Tom Dorsey and found himself mesmerized by their craft. He returned often in the months that followed, culminating with the signing of an apprentice contract early that fall. He has been making bamboo fly rods professionally ever since.

Yet after two successful decades of building rods under his own name—decades which also witnessed a renaissance in bamboo rod building and a proliferation of new makers—another idea was slowly developing. While Marc wholeheartedly embraced this renewed interest in custom bamboo, he also began to consider a venture that would pay better homage to the lineage and tradition of the craft. With this in mind Marc produced his first prototype “Spinoza” – a model designed in the fashion of early bamboo makers. The response was immediate: customers were so happy with the Spinozas that not only did Marc agree to continue making them, but he also decided to introduce them as his flagship model. And so the Spinoza Rod Company was born, the product of four decades of classic rod building experience with a renewed emphasis on the craftsmanship from bamboo’s early golden era.


Owner Leon F. Hanson creates high-performance, custom bamboo fly rods using the Garrison tradition. His passion for fishing and desire for quality equipment led him to teach himself the craft of bamboo rod making, resulting in rods that continuously evolve with tapers that produce lightweight, smooth casting rods. Hanson’s commitment to quality and innovation is exemplified by his use of scalloped hollow rods and micro ferrules, resulting in rods that are lighter in weight, cast tighter loops, and have a magical feel of fine bamboo.


Jerry Kustich of Sweetgrass Rods is a production bamboo rod shop founded by Master Craftsman Glenn Brackett, who learned the craft from legendary bamboo rod makers such as Lew Stoner, Doug Merrick, and Tom Morgan. The company produces bamboo rods in quantities few, if any, can match, with each rod requiring over 40 hours of labor. Sweetgrass Rods combines traditional craftsmanship with innovative design and a love of angling to create elegant art forms that are effective fishing tools. The company is committed to doing all the right things for all the right reasons, with a heart and soul dedication to a legacy entrusted to them by customers who love to fly fish.


Gregg Jenkins, owner of Martin Fly Rods: I grew up in a small town in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. Since my high school years, I have always enjoyed life in the wilderness areas and fishing for trout and bass on the numerous rivers and lakes of the Adirondack Park. At an early age, I also become skilled with cabinetry, drawing, and construction.  As I got older and finished college, I knew that I would not make a living as a fisherman, and pursued my career in construction which took me to several different areas of the northeast and the southeastern USA.

Quite a while ago  I grabbed the two old bamboo flyrods that were my grandfathers and decided that they needed to be restored.  Not knowing where to start, I decided to take a class on constructing bamboo flyrods. Best thing I ever did… and I have been hooked ever since.

Now some of the tools are a little different, but the saws and block planes and principles are still basically the same. And I have to tell you, it’s great to be able to be patient with a craft again, and I mean really patient.  In my world, there is absolutely no hurrying when constructing a split cane rod by hand. Not when you take pride in the workmanship like I do.


Rob Smith, owner: There is no other fishing rod in the world like the Pentalux®. An irregular polygon, this original design produces an improved strength to weight ratio to that of any traditional bamboo rod. It also provides a level of tracking and stability found in no other rod shape due to its perpendicular deflection relative to the casting plane – yet deflection in the casting plane (forward and back) is identical. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to inquire about an opportunity to cast one. I also deal in vintage bamboo fly and bait casting rods.The Original Asymmetrical Five-Strip Bamboo Fly Rod


Doug Hinton, Owner: Gunpowder River Rods is a Maryland-based manufacturer of bamboo fly rods. Based on classic rod tapers developed by master craftsmen over decades of design, trial, and adjustments, our rods are made for sport fly fishermen (and women) who appreciate the nuances and special characteristics of bamboo. For the serious fly fisherman, there is nothing like the experience of fishing bamboo, the tight loop, the lively feel and the rod sensitivity is simply not achievable with modern graphite rods.

We offer rods that are made for the fishing conditions found in trout streams in the Mid-Atlantic area, generally small streams and rivers with limited overhead space and banks. Rods are available direct from us or at select fly shops in the area. We make hexagonal rods in 2 and 3 piece configurations, in sizes from 7 to 8.5 feet in length, for line weights from 3 to 6. Currently, we do not make salmon or spey rods, nor do we make rods for saltwater use. Possibly in the future, we will develop a capacity for these rods, but for now, we make trout rods for freshwater environments, in common lengths and weights.


Phil Terrano, Owner Hudson Valley Fly Rods: Bamboo is an amazing organic material- incredibly renewable, growing upwards of 50′ in about 60 days. A grass with the tensile strength of steel, that both flexes and dampens. Perfect for delicately casting a fly line to hungry fish.

I am a one man shop located in the Hudson River Valley of New York. Each rod is made from a single culm of bamboo. There are upwards of 60 hours of handwork in every one that leaves my bench. I hope these rods will be fished and enjoyed for a long time.




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