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Wet Fly Swing Fly Fishing Podcast

Jul 21, 2022

Show Notes:

Presented By: Jackson Hole Fly CompanyBearvaultDette FliesLakeLady Custom Rods


Bill Oyster, owner and founder of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods, walks us through the 6-day class of bamboo fly rod making.

Bill takes us back to his humble beginnings when he was first learning the art of making bamboo fly rods and there were not many resources available. Now Bill is a master at the craft and Oyster Bamboo is one the best in the industry today, sharing their knowledge with people who want to continue the bamboo fly rod tradition.

We discover the biggest myth about bamboo fly rods and the common mistakes that people make in the process of making them.

How do they build these rods to perfection and custom hand engrave the reel seat smaller than the size of a coin? Listen to the episode to find out!

Show Notes with Bill Oyster

05:00 - The first bamboo rod Bill fished, he created

05:30 - Bill did some guiding, fly casting, and fly tying lessons before he got into the rod business

06:45 - Bill came across the book, The Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod

12:25 - Bill used to receive letters in the mail from other bamboo fly rod builders that are angry at him for getting into the industry

16:15 - Bill was warned by his friend who's also into bamboo fly rod making that if taught bamboo fly rod making, they'd all be out of business in 2 years. He did it anyway.

20:20 - Their classes are fully booked for the next 2 years

25:30 - Riley is Bill's right-hand man who's been working full-time with him for 13 years

25:55 - Bill's wife Shannen handles the business side of the shop

26:20 - Bamboo fly rod making has been Bill's life work for about 24 years now

30:00 - Bill used to work on his rods till 3 am, 7 days a week then go to trade shows

33:00 - Most of the bamboo rod makers today only do it part-time

36:20 - They do the classes all year round, every other week for 22 weeks, 6 days a week. Bill tells us what a week in the class looks like.

41:14 - We break down the top common mistakes that one might do in bamboo rod making

45:20 - We had the guys from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths on the podcast at WFS 161. They have a tool called, Morgan Bamboo Handmill which is very useful in creating bamboo rods.

57:50 - Bill talks about the engraving around the reel seat - he hand engraves them

1:00:15 - We hear some banging from the class upstairs. Bill talks about how they clear the internal nodes of the bamboo before they split it.

1:02:50 - They made a number of custom Bamboo rods for Jimmy Carter. Bill used to guide him as well.

1:06:22 - Jimmy Carter wrote a book about his journey in fishing, hunting, and hiking

1:07:00 - Click here to answer Bill's trivia question. The question is: What country can lay claim to the invention of the split bamboo fly rod?

1:11:08 - Biggest myth about bamboo fly rods: "they are fragile" - Bill makes it clear about the bamboo rod's durability

Conclusion with Bill Oyster

So there you go. We learned a lot about bamboo fly rods today. 

Bill and the Oyster Bamboo crew are doing an amazing job at keeping the bamboo fly rod tradition alive. Bill’s story is a great example that passion and commitment pay off. So thank you, Bill. You inspired many of our listeners today.

If any of you are interesting in joining the bamboo rod-making class, you can sign up for it via their website at They get booked up pretty quickly so it's best if you could sign up right now to get on the wait list.

Hopefully one day I get to join that class too. I can already imagine myself making bamboo fly rods when I retire. I'm going to make a few for my daughters and my grandchildren.

Show Notes: