Design Review: Bamboo Fly rod

Early in my design cycle and in my previous posts, I was deliberating between a few diverse project concepts. After incorporating feedback and further research I have decided to pursue making a bamboo fly fishing rod. The bamboo rods I came across, in my online research and in person, are exceptional examples of art and supreme craftsmanship. A couple examples of Winston Rods bamboo fly rods are shown below.

Image source:

My vision for this project is to promote a natural aesthetic with functional requirements in a rod I can actually go use on the water. My other goals as of now are:

  • Naturalist aesthetic
  • Functionally Sound
  • Design is Ambitious and Challenging but Feasible
  • Budget of about $100-$200

The “Works-Like” Prototype:

For this project, the function is fairly straightforward and accomplishing the desired aesthetic is what will take iteration and exploration. My current prototype is very much an example of the “works like” prototype. My intent was to quickly create a inexpensive version of the intended design to test the functional and aesthetic elements prior to merging in the “looks like: features and materials. A trip to McGuckin’s Hardware and little imagination allowed me to create the functional elements for less than $5. By fleshing out the basic functional elements, I can now focus on the aesthetics, which is the prime focus of this project.

This prototype consists of: 2 bamboo gardening stakes, a reel borrowed from an old rod, brown wire eyelets (upcycled from my Upcycle project) and black athletic tape.

Next Steps and Design Challenges: looking forward my next steps in the design process will primarily be focused around developing the aesthetic with the appropriate materials.

  • Next Steps:
    • Define the functional goals
    • Develop the “looks like” prototype
  • Design Challenges
    • Sourcing the correct materials
    • Promote the natural aesthetic in the synthetic components
    • Balancing design quality and cost
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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Emily Pearson
    March 15, 2017 12:24 pm

    What a really inspiring idea! I think you could even add a sleeve that would double as a handle to add some extra support. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  • Scott Lowenstein
    March 15, 2017 12:24 pm

    I like the chosen naturalist aesthetic. As you pointed out, it compliments the nature of your outdoorsy / fly fishing theme. I like the thoughtful presentation of your constraints and the expected challenges you forsee encourntering in the final version that you plan to create. Great job!

  • This is a great and usablr prototype! I really like the aesthetics of the bamboo rod. Weaved bamboo could be used for the handle as well.

  • Avery Anderson
    March 15, 2017 12:23 pm

    I like the idea of a works-like prototype, but is this prototype a rough idea of the aesthetic you’re looking for as well? For the reel, if you are interested in making your own, I would suggest using a wood grain 3D printer filament. This could be an effective way to keep your naturalistic aesthetic without spending a ton of money. Nice job, you’ll have to let us know if its effective as a rod.

  • Awesome idea! I have never heard of a bamboo fly rod before. I was curious how you plan on on straightening out the bamboo if you cannot buy them as straight as a regular, metal, rod. Also are you planning on finishing the rod to make it look good before putting the spool and line guides? Cool project though!

  • Sam Van Dreser
    March 15, 2017 12:22 pm

    It was great to see your works-like prototype! It definitely looks like you could take this out and catch a fish with it. You mentioned trying to make the reel more of a natural feel. Personally I think that this adds to the rod, adds a bit of complexity to something so simple. Maybe you could add a piece of wood to the outside of this? with some sort of design that completes the natural feel.

  • Good that the project will have value. Great use of materials for prototyping. Solid prototype that gives a lot of insight into the project. I think a more machined version of bamboo will work a lot better, especially for something that lives or dies by how well it works.

  • First off, I love that you are using bamboo. The whole outdoorsy experience is very natural and it makes this awesome that you are able to incorporate a natural rod into your experience. I like how you are using products you got from your upcycle project to help you out with this. Your budget is very large, I was going for about 100$ but yours is almost 200$. Looks like you will most likely make your budget though, because your product is already looking great! Good job, can’t wait to see the end product.


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