The Ramblings, or Rambles, as I tend to call them, are just that: someone, usually me (Russ) droning on about this or that aspect of rodmaking. They may be short, sweet, and to the point, but they tend to be long-winded, peripatetic, amalgamations of practical insight tinged with snark, goading you, the rodmaker, to an appreciation of detail in your own work and the work of others. A given ramble might include bits of emails we’ve sent to individual rodmakers, snippets torn from old instruction sheets, quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary, strange tales, errant memories, soapbox stances, dead ends, and places from which you can begin anew. Good luck navigating it all. There is no editor.
“Hello Russ, I’ve been reading some of your ramblings on the website. I am so glad I found you – you write so well, they are very engaging and I am learning all sorts I didn’t understand before. Thanks very much” – Nick E. (United Kingdom)
by Andrew Laird Turner
The fly on which I caught my first trout was surely a simple, wingless wet fly – a gray hackle peacock perhaps. My father often chose simple wet flies for our early outings. They’re the perfect choice for beginners. Fish will take them dead drifted, swung and stripped.
As a kid, I never thought about how flies were tied even though fly tying material was always strewn about my father’s fly tying room. He tied coho and trout flies for local sporting goods shops. But his desk, with the wooden spools of thread and floss amidst the feathers and hair, was off limits. Much later, I came to understand his tying reflected the post-WWII consensus that modern materials were better. So the threads and flosses I had seen were nylon and rayon….
I’ve been sitting on a half-conceived ramble about making quadrate guides for a long while. Simmering. Cooling Off. Cogitating.
Please take this ramble as I intended my original emails within this post to be taken. Take the words as helpful, as informative, as well-intentioned, and as an honest summation of why it is completely impractical for Golden Witch as a company, or for me as an individual craftsman, to offer quad guides. If you’re patient, if you read to the bottom of my longest email located near the end of this post, you might learn something worthwhile about tackling craft-oriented problems. Or not.
New Note 9/25/20. Time flies when life is extra chaotic! This brief note is just to let everyone know that we are back to running open warehouse Saturdays once a month at the Peak Bamboo mill house. For any given month, we’ll arrange the date with the first interested maker, then as other makers express an interest in visiting, we’ll figure out the time slots. Normally we offer 30 minute pick-up windows with 15 minutes of buffer between the windows. You might arrive to find another maker strapping cane to a roof rack, but rarely are there two makers tripping over each other in the warehouse. Space is very tight between bamboo & tools, which is why we were doing appointment windows even before Corona afflicted the world. We have no mask requirements. Wear one if you feel better doing so, or don’t wear one and you’ll fit right in.
New Note 5/16/20. Hey there, we’re still ticking along here in Pennsylvania – healthy and busy. There’s a bitter dispute between our County level government, which claims we’re re-opening on Monday the 18th of May, and our State level government, which has condemned the County-wide rejection of PA’s onerous shut down regulations. At present, GW remains open as an E-commerce business. We are now scheduling curbside pick-up of bamboo orders. This is a nothing-fancy way to save on shipping if you’re local enough to drive to the warehouse, but we are not yet having clients inside the warehouse, so you don’t get to pick your culms.
Karl Nielsen (@woodbikenielsen and @kidcalifornia on Instagram) got with us on the construction of his custom bamboo bike frame. Using Peak Bamboo, carbon, various woods and a lot of patience and elbow grease, he put together a real beauty. We think you’ll agree; check out the specifications and pictures in the PDF to get your juices flowing. Let us know how we can assist you with materials and know-how for your next bamboo project!
It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So. – (Not) Mark Twain
I’ve had this Ferrule Advice Ramble posted for over a decade. Yes, it has evolved and gotten far longer as other questionable issues arise, but in its basic form it has been on the internet for quite some time. Yet even now I have folks who order the ‘right’ ferrules and then send me condemnatory emails wanting to know why I sent them the wrong ferrules when they ordered the right ones. Now, let me emphasize, some folks quickly admit their mistake and are as kind as can be. Other folks verge on being nasty. Please, if you wind up in this situation, be the kind sort of person. I often wind up spending a half hour looking up their order, measuring a set of ferrules that matches what they ordered, and asking them to measure the set in their hands. Folks, I do make mistakes. I am a fallible human. I rarely make this sort of mistake. Inevitably the fellow who received the ‘wrong’ set will write back and, yes, based on the specs he shares with me he is holding the set he ordered. Yet about half of the folks in this situation absolutely, to the inmost recesses of their soul, are convinced that I have tricked them, that our labeling is inaccurate, that our website is misleading. Read the anonymous quote offered above which is often (and falsely – which is finely ironic considering the words which comprise the quote) attributed to Mark Twain. Those words get to the core of this problem. Neophytes tend to make assumptions. Sometimes they’re accurate, sometimes they’re not. With ferrules, they’re wrong about half the time (because you’re either measuring the ferrule station, or you’re measuring the male slide’s Outside Diameter….not both at once, and not always the same one depending on what sort of ferrule you’re ordering). Of course this means newbies are right half the time, which can really cause trouble when they get lucky with Truncated Ferrules, but later butcher the ordering of Restoration Step Down Ferrules (which are measured the other way). Please, please, please take the time to read this ramble. Sure, it’s long. Yes, it will take some of your precious time. But let me assure you, if you are both new to ferules and certain you know what’s going on, then you more than anyone need to slow down and read these words. The time spent reading will save you very real time and money (think: wasted shipping days/re-stocking fees/re-shipping expenses). I wrote all these words primarily for your benefit. Slow down and enjoy the learning curve.
Here’s the original beginning of this Ramble:
If you have the least question about ferrules – if you’re new to ferrules or only moderately experienced – please, please read this information at least once. I promise, it will help to prevent mistakes and misunderstandings. Thanks!
Welcome to the Golden Witch Ferrule Advice Ramble! I need to let you, the rodmaker or restorationist reading this page, know that I have lost clients because of ferrules. Ferrules are finicky, challenging, yet almost invariably necessary and worthwhile little beasts.
Chopsticks. Love bamboo & Asian cuisine? You can craft hexagonal bamboo chopsticks. For novice rodmakers, they represent a good way to practice setting up and using a planing form on something arguably less important (and intimidating) than a first set of rod blanks.For every maker, chopsticks represent an incredibly useful way of productively using scrap bamboo from the rodmaking process. And what a teaching tool, too, for those who may be curious about how rods are made…each chopstick’s cross-sectional end grain shows off that hexagonal “how-to.” Keep a set in your back pocket at rod shows. Use them at dinner as a conversation starter. Hexagonal chopsticks make wonderful gifts for anglers and non-anglers alike. Thanks to Jeff Evans for sharing his idea and his taper!
In 1997 or so, Frank Armbruster of Colorado Bootstrap published a Free Report on the basics of how to build a bamboo fly rod. He advertised it in the classifieds of a popular national fishing rag for the price of one SASE and a couple of unused stamps. Our own Matt West responded to that ad, and that was the first day of the rest of his life.
Attribution, Thanks, Continuance – The Ramble
This ramble concerns attribution, as well as certain liberties we take here at Golden Witch. If you write to us through the contact form on the GW website, or through any of our business emails, you may be quoted – we attribute your name to your words. If you’re a nice person, this won’t bother you. If you’re a bad apple, well, so much the worse for you. There’s also a bit of soapbox grandstanding on the themes of acknowledging debt, saying thanks, and teaching others as the only true path forward.
Bluing, Bronzing, & Clear Coating For Rodmakers
BB & CC, or, Oxide Finishes and Protective Boundaries
This ramble will be limited to cold bluing suitable for the home shop or low volume custom rodmaker’s shop. There are several points worth noting. First,
Just a few guide notes for now….
On Sizing Tiptops: Here’s some basic info you need for synthetic and bamboo blanks. Tips are sold in nominal 64ths of an inch, by one-half/64 increments, e.g., 3.5/64, 4/64, 4.5/64…you get the picture. To fetch this nominal size from the blank on your bench, you need to do math.