Introducing the Clark Fork Classic Fly Reel and LX Silk Fly Line

Posted on

Clark Fork Classic Fly Reel

Headwaters Bamboo all about affordable quality classic fly fishing products. The Clark Fork reel is a new addition to the product line up. A classic handmade click and pawl action reel to go right along with your Headwaters bamboo fly rod.

The Clark Fork Series reel is a modern-day shout out to the classic days of fly fishing. Inspired by reels by Edward vom Hofe of the late 1800s, the classic S-handle and black vented side panels present a quality classic fly reel to the modern fly angler.

CF-Double_frontContemporary manufacturing methods and materials allow for consistent weight and precise construction, and the clicker drag system is unparalleled in its simplicity and durability. Machined of 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum billets, this classic trout reel will be the heirloom reel that you’ll pass down to your posterity, after a lifetime of use on rivers and streams.

The Clark Fork requires no adjustment for left or right-side retrieve.  Simply wind your line in the direction needed and you’ll be ready to go. The internal click and pawl action is designed to function ambidextrous.

Price: $198

Click here to shop for the Clark Fork Classic Fly Reel.

Click here to shop for the Classic Outfit – Get the rod, reel, and line at a discount.

Model Diameter Weight Line Weight Capacity
CF25 2.5” 4.2 oz WF3F-4F WF3F + 50 Yds 20# Dacron
CF30 3.0” 5.2 oz WF5F-6F WF5F + 75 Yds 20# Dacron


Headwaters Classic LX Silk Line

Our Classic LX Silk Lines are individually crafted by hand using the finest quality pure Chinese silk. The taper is built by braiding the lines.

Silk-On_boxNatural silk fly lines require a little more care, but the benefits are remarkable. The control and power gained allows for better distances and greater accuracy. The lines are narrower than modern plastic lines allowing for more delicate fly presentation. In addition, you will lift from the water surface quicker and smoother and they are less susceptible to air resistance in windy conditions. Finally, with proper care, silk lines will last longer.

One line, three different line types. With the use of Mulicin as a floatant, you will have a floating line. Leave the tip section ungreased for a sinking tip. Or wipe the line clean of Mucilin for a full sinking line.

This Double Taper line comes with care instructions and a tin of Mucilin.

Price: $98

Click here to shop for the Classic LX Silk Fly Line.

Click here to shop for the Classic Outfit – Get the rod, reel, and line at a discount.

Model Length Flotation Taper Line Weight
LX3 90 feet Floating–add Mucilin. Sinking–no Mucilin. Tip Sink–No Mucilin on tip Double Taper 3-WT
LX4 90 feet Floating–add Mucilin. Sinking–no Mucilin. Tip Sink–No Mucilin on tip Double Taper 4-WT
LX5 90 feet Floating–add Mucilin. Sinking–no Mucilin. Tip Sink–No Mucilin on tip Double Taper 5-WT
LX6 90 feet Floating–add Mucilin. Sinking–no Mucilin. Tip Sink–No Mucilin on tip Double Taper 6-WT


Click here to shop for the Classic Outfit – Get the rod, reel, and line at a discount.

The History of the Bamboo Fly Rod

Posted on

From Wood to Bamboo

Early fly fishing rods, prior to the 1830s, were made of wood and were generally in the range of eleven feet long.  It took a great deal of strength and endurance to cast these mighty beasts, especially if a person were doing it repetitively for any length of time.  Not only were these fly rods unwieldy and difficult to manipulate, but the tips were rather breakable and they had a tendency to warp over time.

Rod builders realized that better materials were needed–materials that would be lighter and stronger, as well as more elastic.  They began experimenting with laminated strips of cane that were imported from India, via England.  At first, two strips of cane, split and glued together, were used just for sections of the fly rod.

The Hexagonal Prototype

Other designs were developed–some used three or four strips of cane for a fly rod section. This eventually gave way to the six-strip design and construction of the entire rod from cane sections, rather than a combination of wood and cane. Nobody knows for sure how or why the evolution came about. Some experts theorize that it had to do with the type of cane being used at the time.

The original cane imported for building fly rods was Calcutta cane, a variety that has a pithy interior and a thin outer layer of fibers.  It was susceptible to various boring insects and the standard practice was to scorch it with fire, perhaps to kill insect infestations.  It was easier to obtain six thin strips of undamaged cane, than four wider strips.  In addition, a four-sided rod section had more useless pith in the middle.

It is known that sometime in the mid-1800s, Charles Murphy of New York was constructing entire fly rods with a six-strip design and by the 1870s the hexagonal design had become standard.

Better Bamboo

In the late 1800s a different species of bamboo became available to fly rod builders.  The Charles Demarest Company introduced Tonkin bamboo to the rod building market, where it quickly became the material of choice.  The scientific name for Tonkin bamboo is Arundinaria Amabilis.  It is native to a fairly small area of southeast China and the canes are smooth, clean, straight and thick-walled with non-prominent nodes.

Machining Increases Availability

The business of making cane fly rods was an exceedingly slow one.  Each rod had to be handcrafted from split pieces of bamboo and meticulously glued together to fit into a balanced whole.  It took a gunsmith to elevate rod building into a trade with mass distribution capabilities. Many of those who built fishing rods in the early days were gunsmiths by trade so they were skilled wood workers.

Hiram Leonard developed a machine to manufacture precisely the tapered cane pieces, reducing overall production time substantially.  He was very protective of his machinery and kept it locked up from even his own employees.  However, others developed their own methods and the early years of the twentieth century became the golden age of bamboo fishing rods.

Loss of the Cane Supply

Fishing rods made from synthetic materials might never have been invented but for a trade embargo imposed on Chinese goods, including Tonkin Cane, in 1950.  Only a few manufacturers of bamboo fly rods survived.  Those who continued did so because they bought cane from the companies that folded.

Still, between a shortage of quality bamboo and the development of synthetics, the cane craft nearly died out altogether. The embargo ended in 1971, but by then bamboo fly rods were built only by a handful of manufacturers and a few home craftsmen.

The Resurgence

Moving into the 1980s, fishermen and craftsmen renewed their interest in bamboo fly rods.  A couple of nostalgic books led people to remember their earlier fishing experiences and the craft was reborn.  The classic bamboo fly rod is back and better than ever.  Century-old designs coupled with modern technology for more precise measurements and fittings are an unbeatable combination.

In an Image and a Word: Tradition

Posted on

Bamboo is all about tradition. But it doesn’t have to be like the stereotypes. You can have a bamboo rod built with whatever action you’d like.

Oh, and by the way, did you recognize the angler in this image? That’s Ike there fishing in the 1950s.

Here’s an interesting story about President Eisenhower and his Veep, Richard Nixon:

Eisenhower once tried to teach his vice-presidential running mate Richard Nixon how to cast with a fly rod.

Nixon’s first cast hooked a tree limb. Nixon’s second cast hooked a tree limb. Nixon’s third cast hooked a tree limb. Nixon’s fourth cast hooked Eisenhower’s shirt, at which point the lesson ended.

Nixon wrote, “Fishing just isn’t my bag.”

The Elegance and Beauty of Bamboo Rods

Posted on

Casting the Fly  by Winslow Homer


The Art of Bamboo

Fly fishing author Arnold Gingrich said,

On the day that Jascha Heifitz plays a plastic violin in the New York Philharmonic I would consider using a rod made of synthetic materials.

World-class music is made on exceptional instruments. An exquisite bamboo rod of six strips of Tonkin cane, artfully split and tempered, then meticulously finished, is an instrument of incomparable casting quality with an appearance of fine art. A bamboo rod will literally take your breath away—the craftsmanship is exquisite in its fine detail. You will come to delight in the workmanship and grace of bamboo.

If you’ve longed for bamboo, Headwaters is your welcome home. Our classic bamboo rod tapers have a silky smooth action to delight anglers with a preference for fine crafted rods with a relaxed casting rhythm. Anglers worldwide have discovered the exhilaration of fishing Headwaters bamboo.

Six hand-planed strips of genuine Tonkin cane form a rich texture of functional yet timeless craftsmanship. Quality hardware complements the natural elegance of bamboo.


Aren’t Bamboo Rods Fragile?

Posted on

Some anglers seem to think that bamboo rods are just too fragile to use. But that perception might just be because bamboo rods have been in use for over 135 years and there are lots of old ones hanging around. John Gierach, in his book, Fishing Bamboo, explains it like this: 

“When graphite rods have been around continuously for over a century, you’ll see just as many busted ones–probably more, since graphite is more brittle than bamboo and, by all rights, should also come with spare tips.”

Bamboo rods really are stout, strong, and resilient. Why is that? It starts with the material and ends with construction. Bamboo as a substance has a higher tensile strength than steel. I recall seeing scaffolding in Asia. Why use steel when bamboo is in abundant supply?! If you haven’t seen it, check out this video posted by AFP News Agency on YouTube. Pretty amazing stuff:

So, because of its uses, we know that bamboo is inherently strong. The bamboo species used exclusively for bamboo fly rods today is known as Tonkin Cane or by its scientific name, Arundinaria  amabilis (the Lovely Reed). This species is known for its “power fibers.” These long, thin strands of material run the length of the bamboo culm and give the fly rod its strength (more on power fibers at a later time). In addition to the strength of the material, there is also the strength of the construction of bamboo rods. Whereas graphite rods are a hollow tube, bamboo rods are built as a solid core, normally taking six strips (but sometimes four, five, or eight) and gluing and bundling them into a solid core. Again, from Gierach, he tells a story of his friend Mike Clark, a builder in Colorado: 

“I’ve seen Mike grab the butt section of an unwrapped blank off the rack, throw it on the floor, and walk the length of it in hiking boots, while explaining that if it was a hollow graphite shaft it would be crushed. The customer gasps, Mike grins, and the point is made.”

So, are bamboo rods fragile? I’d say not. What do you think?



The environmentally green tall grass.

Posted on


Bamboo is green. Really green.

It is a natural, renewable material. And this yields a superb handcrafted tool for the environmentally conscientious fly angler.

Bamboo has a positive reputation when it comes to the environment. It grows quickly, earning it the moniker of a rapidly renewable resource as opposed to a plain old renewable resource, a title given to everything from trees to corn to chicken feathers. It doesn’t need pesticides or much water, it pulls carbon dioxide out of the air, and it can be used in a nearly unimaginable range of products.

Bamboo plants sequester four times as much carbon dioxide as hardwood trees (taking in 62 tons of CO2 per 2.4 acres versus 16 tons per 2.4 acres of trees) and puts out 35 percent more oxygen. And then there’s the rate of harvesting: Bamboo can be harvested every 5-10 years, much faster than trees used for other forest-based products.

Take a look at bamboo. Take a look at Headwaters.