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“About varnishing, some believe, the thinner, the better. But it is not, it’s a big mistake. A fly rod is not a piece of art, but a tool for fly fishing. Varnishing is like the bumper of a car. It protects the naked body from rocks, branches, hooks, and many other hazardous things. I feel uncomfortable every time I see a bamboo rod that has thin varnishing. I even doubt it is a trick to make a rod look sharper or maybe even cooler. Varnishing is not cosmetic, but the protector.”

If you doubt that Hironobu said this as an excuse because his vanishing was not beautiful, you would be wrong, completely wrong. His vanished surface looks like a queen among other makers in my eyes. It is just stunningly beautiful.

Hironobu does not dip the rod when he vanishes. He believes hand-painting is the best way to make the perfect surface on the rod.

“The temperature of the room is the first thing you have to be concerned about. If the temperature was not the same each time you vanish, you could not make the same rod.”

Hironobu uses polyurethane for varnishing and sets the room temperature at 63℉ when he varnishes. As the temperature goes up, the curing rate will be higher. Some professional makers set the temperature up to 70℉ to speed up the process. That means you do not have much time for brushing.

“Every bamboo rod maker has their own rhythm in each process. Rhythm is one of the most important things to make the same rod. I believe a good rhythm while varnishing makes the surface flat and flawless.”

Hironobu often stressed the words “the same rod” during the interview, meaning to make all of the rods he made to be consistently the same. I think that came from his early carrier. He once was a contractor of one of the most popular fly shops in Tokyo. His rods were sold under the name of the shop’s brand. He believes he cut more strips than any other makers did. He called himself a “human beveler” in those days.


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