Bamboo on the Flats

Our grandfathers used old-school bamboo fly rods to create some of the greatest fishing stories of all time. The fact that most of these stories took place on famous trout streams still influences what people think about bamboo’s place in fly fishing.

Caleb Turner, of Turner Bamboo Fly Rods, has a different take on these rods in the modern world.

“Bamboo has a special place in the very heart of fly fishing, from the great western streams to the small streams of the Appalachians, but they don’t come to mind when people are talking the salt flats,” Caleb said.

According to the Turners, there’s a misconception that there are no fast action bamboo fly rods, and that only the fastest action rods can be used in saltwater. Most rod makers and enthusiasts know this isn’t only untrue… it isn’t even the point.

“The feel found in bamboo rods is often confused with action for people picking up a bamboo rod for the first time,” Caleb said. “When they feel the action in the rod, they often over accelerate their forward cast causing them to lose energy in the line.”

Caleb’s recommendation is to let the rod do the work, and to concentrate on technique.

“It’s easier to feel when the rod is loaded with bamboo, and this really comes more into play for us on the flats than trout streams,”
he said.

What the Turners do differently than most other bamboo rod makers is cater to saltwater fly fishing. They are located in Mississippi right next to some of the most technical redfish flats on the Gulf Coast.

“We design our saltwater fly rods with a fast action for stiff winds and quick-moving redfish that spook way more easily than their Louisiana counterparts,”
Caleb said.

With water the same color as the redfish, wind, and the need to have eyes of an Osprey, fly fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast is more like bonefishing.

“Bamboo gives us the action we need, the feel we need, and it’s able to load up at short distances but also extend a long cast to extremely wary redfish found around here.” Caleb said. “Tonkin cane grows in a 30-square-kilometer area in the Orient’s Sui River Valley. It is praised as the strongest species of bamboo with the greatest thickness of power fibers. These power fibers are what give bamboo rods what they have more than other material used in crafting fly rods, their touch. Despite what action you desire, bamboo rods offer a certain touch you just can’t get with anything else. If a rod is designed correctly, you can have all the action you need and still have that great feel. The rod lets you know when it’s loaded instead of having to figure out the timing for that individual rod.”

In short, bamboo fly rods definitely have their place in modern performing fly rods. Accuracy, touch and presentation are things bamboo rod makers strive for in crafting their rods. If you get a hold of a quality rod, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the things it can do.

For more information on these fly rods or Turner Bamboo Fly Rods visit or email

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