Rod Builder or Artist…. Let’s be honest… When looking at a bamboo fly rod there’s just something about them that elevates them to a level far above any graphite or fiberglass rod. Sure there are fantastic handmade graphite and fiberglass fly rods but they don’t hold a candle to the craftmanship and painstaking time that is required to produce a true work of art like a bamboo fly rod.
Today we are going to dive into the world of a bamboo or split-cane fly rod builder and give you a run down of what models they offer and their pricing.
In today’s world of mass produced products we have come to accept that some of our graphite and fiberglass rods fall into this category but in the bamboo world there is still a level of craftsmanship that goes into producing this type of fly rod. In most cases these rods are expensive but remember the old saying – You Get What You Pay For… So, let’s take a look at a great bamboo fly rod builder.
CHRIS LANTZY – Custom Rod Maker
I decided to start this write-up with Chris primarily because I have a history with him and own a number of his custom made fly fishing pieces. Chris is an incredible person as well as a magician with materials. He truly produces some of my most prized fly fishing possessions with my leather leader wallet being at the top. All his products are handmade in his shop with his hands. If you own any of Chris’s pieces you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Thanks to Chris for allowing me to heist his bio from the website! Why rewrite something that is already there!
A fly rod has always been an important object in Chris’ life. Growing up in North-Western PA close to numerous trout streams Chris’ Mom, Dad, & brother all fished with fly rods. At the ripe old age of seven or eight (nobody can remember just when) his parents bought him his first fiberglass fly rod. Chris has fond memories of his early angling experiences. Everyday after school, & all day on weekends, throughout the spring to early summer he & his family would go fishing. Taking the sport seriously, yet still being a kid, Chris recalls dividing his time along the stream between fishing & playing in the stream-side woods or fields when the fishing was slow. He was allowed to play, so long as he took care of his tackle & didn’t disturb anyone else who was fishing.
Both before & after graduating from college Chris worked as a professional musician and private music instructor. Straight out of school he went to work for a very reputable music store in Pittsburgh, PA as an instrument repair technician. There, working with & learning from some of the most experienced repairmen in the music business, he acquired many of the skills that both musical instrument repair technicians & rod makers employ. Mr. Ron Samson, a master string instrument repairman, was especially helpful to Chris teaching him many skills of the trade. It was during this time when one day, while admiring his Great-Grandpa’s bamboo fly rod, he decided to give rod making a try. He began studying every book on the subject he could find & asking questions to many professional rod makers who kindly helped him along. Armed with the knowledge he gained Chris started designing & building some of the tools necessary in making split-cane rods. This included a set of steel planing forms, binding machine, etc. & he also began making graphite & fiberglass rods, too. Soon his first split-cane fly rod was complete & a love affair with the craft of rod making was born. After all these years he still gets excited upon completing a fly rod.
Soon after becoming a full time rod maker, Chris began making the rod bags & tubes for all his rods. This led him to a serious study of how different fishing accessories are made. Eventually Chris would design & make an entire line of fishing accessories including leather fly wallets, leader wallets, fishing bags, reel cases, etc. – each one made with the same attention to detail as his fly rods.
Chris lives in the rolling hills of Amish farm country in North-Western Pennsylvania among many good fishing waters. Coming from a long line of anglers of the long rod, his rod collection includes the fly rods of his Great Grandpa’s, Grandpa’s, Grandma’s, & that of other family members. He donates a number of his rods to groups that do positive work through fly fishing.
Chris has multiple levels of bamboo fly rods that he produces so everyone has the chance to own one of his pieces of art. Let’s take a look at the different levels of bamboo fly rods that Chris produces.
The Prudential Series
For those of you who want a great casting split-bamboo fly rod, but at an economical price, a Prudential rod is just the rod for you. All rods in this line are 2 piece with 1 tip (2/1). They all feature snake style line guides, chrome stripping guides, & down locking reel seats with walnut spacers with high grade aluminum hardware. You can have any color of silk thread wraps you want. The rod shafts receive several coats of a hand rubbed oil-based finish. They are marked with a personal inscription of your choosing & the maker’s (my) name, rod length, line weight, & serial number. Each rod comes in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. These rods are the perfect introduction to the world of bamboo for those of you who have been curious but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars. I warn you though, you may never go back to synthetic rods!!!
Prudential rods are available in any 2 piece length & line weight. The most popular are:
Price: $600 + $30 shipping & insurance
All rod blanks are made from the same culm of bamboo. The tips are mirror-matched in node placement & nodes are spaced in the “3×3” method.
Your choice of standard silk wrap colors of red, green, brown, or orange tipped in black. Other colors available at no extra charge.
Hard chrome snake style line guides, chrome stripping guides & plain nickel-silver winding checks.
Top quality cork grip hand shaped in my shop from premium cork rings. All grips are standard cigar shape.
Nickel-Silver “Super-Z” style ferrules made by Classic Sporting Enterprises. These are, in my opinion, the best quality ferrules available.
All standard reel seats are down locking & available in a slide-band or screw-locking style. The standard wood spacer is walnut. The hardware is made from high grade aluminum.
All rods come in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. As an upgrade option,your rod can also come in a traditional aluminum tube with brass end caps for a small additional cost.
Every rod comes with a personal inscription. Each rod will have the maker’s (my) name, line weight & rod length, & a serial number on one side of the the rod. The other side will have your name or any personal inscription you choose.
All rods 5ft to 8ft in length are available in 2/2 (2 piece/ 2 tip) configuration. Rods 8”6″ to 9′ length are available in 3/2 (3 piece/ 2 tip) configurations.
Your options for rod length & line weight are many. Chris makes rods from one piece 4′-4″ long to 3 piece 9′ in length & everything in between including all rod actions.
All 2/2 rods = $865 + $30 shipping & insurance
All 3/2 rods = $995 + $30 shipping & insurance
These are truly custom rods. Here, anything goes. You & Chris work together to make a rod that is truly unique to you. Every aspect of the rod is exactly what you want it to be. Each rod comes standard with everything listed for the Classical Series, with the following exceptions:
Your choice of snake style line guides of hard chrome with standard twist or special hand twisted, stainless steel in a reverse “British” twist. (see below)
Wraps in any color of silk thread you want.
All reel seat hardware is made from Nickel-Silver & are the finest reel seats available. You choose from many different wood spacers & styles of reel seats.
The winding check is made from Nickel-Silver with finely detailed knurling around the edges.
Agate stripping guides are standard on all Custom series rods & you can choose between many different colors of stone.
All Custom series rods come in a traditional aluminum rod tube with brass end caps.
You can upgrade these rods with anything you want including custom engraving on the rod metal, custom reel seats, feather inlays, silk wrap colors, etc. With these rods we are limited only by our imagination. Contact me for other options.
All 2/2 rods= $1155 + $30 shipping & insurance
All 3/2 rods= $1270 + $30 shipping & insurance
And.. If you are going to have a work of art fly rod like Chris produces why would you want to store it in a regular rod tube… You wouldn’t and that’s where Chris’s leather rod tubes stand out above the rest.
Just like the canvas covered PVC rod tubes, these leather tubes can be made to fit most size of fly rods, to an exact fit for your rod. We do this because if the rod tube is longer than the rod inside, it will slide back & forth, jostling the rod inside. That’s not good & you don’t want that. Sliding back & forth inside the tube is absolutely no good for your fly rod, especially those delicate tips!! To get the best fit for your rod, please measure the total length of your fly rod -in it’s bag – & give me that measurement. Both ends of these rod tubes have thick, dense foam padding to protect the rod inside.
The top edge of the pipe is slightly beveled. This is done to make sliding the rod in & out of the tube easier – there’s no hard edge to catch any line guides on, just a nice & smooth surface. The heavy canvas shoulder strap is not only adjustable, but easily removed for convenience when traveling, or packing the rod tube. The leather itself is tightly stitched to the aluminum tube, by hand, for a perfect fit.
The aluminum tube used here is heavy-walled (1/8″ thick) which makes these tubes heavier than what you’re most likely used to. We use these heavy tubes because if you’re housing a special rod, you want to protect it well & a thick, strong tube will do just that.
These rod tubes will be available in both brown & mahogany colored leathers (brown shown in the photos). Customization is possible & priced accordingly, depending on your requests. Please contact me with any questions you have & to discuss your rod tube.
As these tubes are special order items that are made completely by hand, there will be a short wait time for them to be made for you. You can pay in full up front, or if you prefer, a down payment of half the total can be made to begin the tube, the second half due only after your rod tubes are completed.
Price: 2/1 or 2/2 rods = $275 + shipping
3/2 or 4 pc rods = $350 + shipping
In closing.. Like I said earlier… I have known Chris for a while now and the products he produces are second to none. Not only will you enjoy them but they are true heirloom quality and the little fly fisherperson in your life will enjoy them as well. In addition if you have any questions just know that Chris is unbelievable to work with and every question you have will be answered. He is a true craftsman. Chris can be reached at – firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website to see all of the awesome products he produces.