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)
New Note 4/7/20. Hi Folks…please be sure you read the notes below this one as I won’t be repeating previous, but still important, info. Our county, Lancaster, is now under something like a ‘shelter in place’ lock down. Thankfully, the US Postal Service and UPS are both operating, so nothing has changed for the business. We’re still making and shipping product, and shipping bamboo from our warehouses. We are extremely grateful to all the rodmakers who are sending orders through the shop, keeping the company, and thus a few individuals, above water. Still, sales are down from normal – as anyone would expect in the time of corona – and that fact has brought on an enhanced bamboo sale. Here’s the sale details:
“12 for 10” – Starting 4/7/20 ONLY on the A Grade 10 Pack, and ONLY if you order the culms cut in half, not thirds, you are welcome to request “12 for 10” in the comments section and we’ll ship you twelve sticks when you purchase a ten pack. If you don’t request the spare culms, please don’t expect us to ship them because we’ll assume you didn’t want them. We can’t offer this deal if you order thirds because the spare culms are too bulky for the boxes. Yes, you’ll pay a smidgen more for UPS Ground shipping if you choose 12 for 10, but not much since the box size isn’t changing, only the weight on a package that is already ‘oversize’ by UPS standards. Why are we doing this? Because we have literally tons of A grade bamboo still in the warehouses and this virus lock-down is hurting sales. We need to create a win-win scenario for our clients and ourselves in order to drive enough bamboo out the door to keep paying the leases on two warehouses. Your order of a ten pack of A Grade bamboo will actively help Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo to keep our corporate head above water in the time of Corona. Don’t forget, when you order ANY ten pack of bamboo, you get a better coupon set in your Peak Bamboo “Thank You” pack, including one for 25% off a bag of cork. We make it easy to recoup the shipping costs on your bamboo when you use the coupons we send. Yet another win-win situation. This extra “12 for 10” sweetener for the bamboo sale will be in place only until the lock down lifts across the country and our sales bounce back to something approaching normal. Domestic, Continental U.S. sales only for the 12 for 10 offer.
New Note 3/24/20. First and foremost, please take care of yourself and your family. As anyone with first-responder or wilderness adventure training knows, the most important thing in an emergency is to keep yourself safe. This is not selfishness, it’s practical. If you are not physically able to help yourself, you are also unable to help your family members, your neighbors, and your friends. If you are in part the country (or the world) not yet suffering from lock downs, please take the time and spend the money to build yourself and your family a buffer. If you don’t have it already, you should immediately buy several weeks worth of supplies for normal living – advance spending on stuff you’ll use up, not wasted spending on a lifetime supply of toilet paper. I’d also suggest buying seeds, seed potatoes, and whatever else you need to get a garden started. We planted seeds and put them under lights yesterday. Here in Pennsylvania we are under a partial or total lock down, depending on county, and the grocery stores are more or less depleted, depending on which store you visit and what product you think you need. Steph & I can tell you that we have seen ZERO evidence of this virus in our corner of PA…news stories, yes, but no-one we know has been afflicted…yet we are seeing the effect of the virus on society and these effects are very real. Even if you’re in the ‘it’s just a flu’ mindset, please make an effort to prepare for bare shelves at the grocery. After you and your family have food security, then, yes, we’d love to earn some of your business, but your family must come first.
After some hesitation because of the potential penalties, we are back open for business under the provision of the Pennsylvania order that allows the continued operation of e-commerce businesses even during the shut down of all non-essential businesses. Though there is some dispute, we may also be allowed to operate under the provision that considers “Fishing” businesses to be open because they are essential; food is certainly essential and you can catch a fish with fishing tackle…we think fishing is also essential because it gets folks outdoors in the fresh air and sun, and yet it is a largely solitary endeavor…what better way to engage in social distancing while exercising (wading can be serious exercise) and while providing food for yourself and your loved ones (yes, even die hard catch & release fishermen may want to bring the stringer along in the time of Corona). Anyway, we’re open for the time being. Please pay for your orders using PayPal so we can make prompt refunds if we’re out of stock on an item (more details in the 3/19/20 note below this). Please understand that some of our supply partners are facing difficulties sourcing or manufacturing their products. As I type this, silks from Asia and metal guides from Asia (snakes, some all-metal strippers) are in short supply and cannot be restocked at all in certain cases. To give one specific example, as of today Pacific Bay has had their operation entirely closed down by Washington State government, so they are not shipping orders even if they have inventory. Suffice to say, this is a challenging time. On the positive side, we have substantial in-house inventory and may be able to supply your needs.
If you order, please understand that between the time you place your order and the time we ship your order, the rules in Pennsylvania may change. Six counties, thankfully not Lancaster County where we are located, have come under “shelter in place” rules. If that happens here, we’ll keep making parts to fill orders, but we may be unable to ship (even this is iffy, because if the Feds keep the Post Office open, we may be allowed to call for pick up). Really, we’re just taking one day at a time and hoping we can remain a viable business until this plague lifts. Your support, patience, and understanding is vastly appreciated! -Russ
New Note 3/19/20. We’ll update any time we have more info to pass along.
Hello Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo clients. At this point, everyone knows: The Corona Virus is up-ending all our lives. My adult sons have both lost their jobs, but still have some pick-up work as bamboo orders roll in. Thank you bamboo buyers! My high school girls are out of school, officially for two weeks. My wife’s job as a public school administrator is contingent on whether or not the state determines that she is an essential worker – and if she isn’t, well that would mean the kids aren’t going back to school any time soon. Around us, folks in the construction industry are laying off staff because their clients are calling a halt to work. A friend in the graphics arts business has had clients tell him to stop working on their projects. Everyone is starting to hunker down.
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!
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.
Before fishing lines were braided, they were furled. Horse hair, some sort of grass and silk were the materials of the day. The difference between the silk line I made and how most furled leaders are made is the number of legs. Most furled leaders have two legs (strands). My silk line has three, this results in a more round shape.
The bits and pieces of “how to” were gathered from the web, nothing copyrighted or proprietary. I think most folks avoid silk lines due to cost of commercial lines, upkeep, and lack of DIY. I’m going to do my best to explain the process, if anything doesn’t make sense or you have any questions…let me know!
Inking Signatures…On Pre-Varnished Blanks & More
This ramble is going to start off with a simple question and a response by Russ. We’ll probably add more detailed information over time. For the moment, this is a good example of why we don’t take tech questions over the phone – because responses evaporate as they’re spoken – and a good example of how we will respond if you email us. It might take a day or two, but if someone here knows the answer, or can guide you in the right direction, you’ll get a thorough response. Eventually, it is highly likely that your question will be the stimulus for another ramble, like this one, and that way many makers can benefit from the time it takes us to respond. Really, it’s good for everyone.
I forgot ask you for some advice earlier, hope you don’t mind – I’m working on a pre-varnished blank, and wondered what the best way to go about signing the rod might be. I’m a bit nervous about trying to scuff the area and sign, would hate to possibly damage the blank. Also not sure if I could just sign directly on the finish as it is. Thanks for any suggestions – very appreciated!