Kiyoshi established Campanella for manufacturing graphite rods and added lineup of bamboo rods later. The only homework he left behind was fiberglass rods. In 2020 spring, Fagus started manufacturing fiberglass rod. The only other maker I know who makes fiberglass fly rods all by themselves (design, blueprint and manufacture) in Japan is Campanella which Kiyoshi founded and was succeeded by Hiroki Ishikawa.

Kiyoshi has finally accomplished the grand slam of fly rod building (graphite, bamboo, and fiberglass rod) after his retirement (I may have to say his “first” retirement). Kiyoshi and Yuta told me that it took almost a half year to find the exact prepreg (their term for a fiberglass sheet) which they needed. “Forest Bum”, the lighter color rod on the next page, is medium, and “Fine Loop”, the darker one, is a medium slow action glass rod. Both rods are surprisingly smooth. These rods do not use a normal prepreg that has cross fiber (like cotton shirts), but use only the prepreg that has fibers running only one direction (butt to top). This is why these rods are not fat, but slim like graphite rods. These glass rods shook me and have changed my thinking about fly rods. I had believed bamboo was the best material for light fly rods for a long time, but I realized it is not true after I tried these rods. There is no best material for fly rods, only good bamboo rods, good graphite rods, and good glass rods. It is that simple. I have to confess that I started thinking to change the title and contents of this book after casting these rods.

*This article was extracted from “Mostly Bamboo” by courtesy of the author.

Tadanobu’s Genius rod is designed to cast a size #12 fly to the distance of over 10 yards. He never uses long leaders such as over 15 feet.

“I did almost everything. I used to be a long leader believer, a cherry trout (sea-run yamame trout) chaser fishing with a Spey rod (if you catch one fish in a season, you are lucky), a headwater lover. I was even an owner of a fly shop. After all these crazy things, I found myself lost somewhere in the fly fishing world.”

It was eighteen years ago when Tadanobu decided to get off the fly fishing merry-go-round. He started making bamboo rods. At his very beginning, he decided to follow the concept of “High Speed, High Line,” which is, of course, Charles Ritz’s doctrine. As a natural consequence, he targeted Pezon et Michel.

There is no bamboo rod maker who started his career without copying the old famous makers’ rods, such as Leonard, Payne, and Garrison. Pezon et Michel is still popular in Japan though it might be in the minority if we look around the world.

*This article was extracted from “Mostly Bamboo” by courtesy of the author.

Harada Takezao (can be translated into English as Harada Bamboo Rod) is located in south of Osaka where is not far from a sacred Buddhist place which is called Koyasan.

Katsumi makes his rods mostly with madake that he harvests by himself in Koyasan. Madake is tall and thick bamboo that grows up to sixty-five feet tall and six inches in diameter at their max. The wazao uses madake for its tip because it is sensitive but still has a higher response rate than other bamboos. Katsumi uses madake for that same reason.

“If you compare madake with Tonkin, madake has more bending capability. I use madake because I love a parabolic rod. When you cast a madake rod, you will feel the butt bend well. The power will be transmitted slowly toward the tip, and this slow speed makes a fly turn over, even when used with a long tippet.”

It is often said that the bamboo rod has a higher catching rate than the graphite rod once a fish is hooked. A slow response can handle the power waves from many different directions. If this logic is correct, madake has an even higher catching rate than Tonkin.

His rod has a uniquely shaped reel seat filler. He once noticed his hand was uncomfortable while casting because of the small bump between grip and reel seat filler. That gap hurts his right palm. He wanted to improve it. He stopped using a common round filler and curved it to an oval flattened shape. I like it because it looks like a miniature artwork done by Antoni Gaudy to my eyes.

“It is more time-consuming work than it seems, but I am sure there are many fly fishers who feel the same way I did, uncomfortable while casting.”

“Yes, I often had some pressed lines in my palm after fishing.”

“We bamboo rod makers often think there is no room for improvement on the bamboo rod. But never. If we just keep doing what we did for years, we forget that the maker’s mission is to make users happier.”

*This article was extracted from “Mostly Bamboo” by courtesy of the author.