Shipping Rates, Terms, & Conditions

Russ,  I feel like a kid unpacking your boxes!  I don’t think for a minute we should get a discount for shipping on any quantity order.  Your packaging is amazing!  The icing is the gifts slid carefully into the package.  I was shocked to find 2 spools of silk thread.  Nice touch, you shock me every time!  Thanks for all you do! – Chuck R. (USA)

I just received my last order from you.  I wish my dental supplies, that are a lot more delicate, would be packaged as carefully.  Also, thank you for the generous ‘extras’.  All the best, Mark K. (USA)

Russ, I received my order today, all in great shape. Can’t believe how well it was packaged. Thanks so much for the free sample of vintage parts. -Gary W. (USA)


Policy Note: if a product says “Final Inventory” on its webpage, then all sales of that item are final, no returns – that’s the minor risk you assume when buying a close-out product, often at discount.


AUSTRALIAN CLIENTS:  Please take note, that as of 9/27/21 the US Postal Service has ended their Priority Mail International service to Australia.  In order to get tracked and insured service, we are now forced to use Priority Mail EXPRESS service.  Our web store is not set up to charge separate rates for each individual country, so I’m posting this note prominently and in several places on the website.  The MINIMUM shipping charge to Australia, which only includes $200.00 in insurance, with extra insurance available based on your order size, is now $75.00.  This is regrettable, but until the USPS reinstates regular Priority Mail International service, it’s what we all have to deal with.  The webstore will charge you a lesser international shipping fee when you check out (on orders over $250.01, which is the new minimum to process an international order…thank the EU for that change; international orders below $250.01 will not process through the webstore).  I will then send a PayPal invoice to cover the balance due for shipping and insurance.  Very sorry about this.  It came as a total surprise to me and, as it turns out, to our local Postmaster.  Also, as a blanket note to other overseas clients…if the USPS drops PMI to your nation, we will be forced to bill you the additional cost to use PM EXPRESS because we can’t stay in business if we are forced to absorb these added shipping costs.  Thanks for your understanding during this unprecedented time.


Free Shipping (*)

*Sort of.  Sometimes.  Free shipping applies to retail domestic orders totaling over $500.00 in small parts, after any deductions are made for coupons you may have.  This policy is being enacted as a test and may not last.  A lot of our clients order frequently and their annual totals are far in excess of the $500.00 limit.  Bundling your order will certainly save us time at the packing & paperwork end of running the business.  If free shipping is the right way to promote planning ahead and stocking up, we’ll give it a shot.  Bamboo, planing forms, depth gauge packages, and so forth are NOT small parts, so please don’t include them in an order and expect free shipping; if our sometimes inept computer system is tricked, we’ll issue you an invoice for shipping at normal rates and we’ll trust that you’ll understand why. Don’t hesitate to email if you have questions before you place a larger order.

Free shipping on SMALL parts orders shipped domestically is kind of like an Easter Egg.  There are other Easter Eggs – freebies for qualifying orders – hidden around the site as we start our final year.  At least it will be my final year.  Good time to start hunting!

Add-On Order Policy

Gentlemen & Ladies, as of December, 2017 I’ve come to the conclusion that Golden Witch must politely alter the company policy regarding add-on orders. We no longer accept “add-on” orders or order alterations. This is, for better or for worse, unconditional and absolute. This policy has been put in place after we had a week in which Nikki calculated that 29% of all the ‘primary’ orders wound up with an add-on request. To be blunt, the add-ons had become epidemic and were having a noticeable effect on our efficiency in getting everyone else’s orders processed, crafted, and out the door as promptly as possible; Nikki’s hours shifted more and more toward the paperwork associated with altering orders. We were being asked to open sealed boxes and tuck in just one more item before the mail was picked up, which is untenable when it happens several times in a business morning. Please consider this from our other clients’ perspectives…it means that if a maker requests an add-on order, that maker is asking to have an order of theirs serviced ahead of all the other orders on the bench which fell behind their first order. I have to end this, for the sanity of our small staff and out of respect for all our clients. Golden Witch only functions effectively with such a small staff when we are functioning smoothly: Orders received, parts crafted or picked from inventory, orders shipped. Next order…

This policy change has two implications. First, you really, really need to plan your order. Play Santa Claus. Make a list, check it twice. Once you complete the order on-line, the order is ‘sealed.’ Second, if you need additional items, please don’t hesitate to order them, but understand that each subsequent order is a new, separate, and distinct order. It will fall on the packing bench in line with every other order and it will not be combined with your previous orders, even if it is only one spool of silk, or a few snake guides. We ask, with utmost politeness, that each of you respect this policy. Please do not ask for an exception; we will not make an exception. This is one instance where what may appear to be good or ‘standard’ service was, in fact, slowing down our service to other clients, i.e., running add-on orders was poor service to many, many other rodmakers. Nikki, Matt, Drake, & I cannot emphasize enough that we rely on your business and we strive every day to provide beautiful parts and great service for each of you. Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation.

Domestic Priority Mail Small Packages Only*

  • $0 – $20 – Priority Mail: $12.95
  • $20.01 – $40- Priority Mail: $13.95
  • $40.01 – $100- Priority Mail: $15.95
  • $100.01 – $200- Priority Mail: $19.95
  • $200.01 – $300- Priority Mail: $21.95
  • $300.01 – $400- Priority Mail: $24.95
  • $400.01 – $500- Priority Mail: $27.95
  • $500.01 and up- Priority Mail: FREE

$11 Surcharge above Domestic Priority Mail rates on any order that has 1 or more items that must be shipped by Ground UPS within the Continental U.S.; items that must be shipped by Ground UPS may not ship by any other method and may not ship outside the Continental U.S.

Overnight Shipping

We do not offer overnight shipping as a standard check-out option. Many “in stock” items are in stock only in terms of raw materials and must be finished out to client specifications; the typical order containing stripping guides, GW/ACW hook tenders, blued or bronzed parts, and other components of this sort, will have these items crafted and then shipped in the order received, with a typical turn-around time of 5-10 business days after the order is placed. We work tirelessly to get your orders shipped in a timely fashion and we appreciate your understanding.  Our goal is to provide the best possible customer service, while respecting the orders that have come in before yours – their custom stuff gets made first, because it’s only fair, and it’s the way you’d want your order treated if you were already in line.  Thanks!


*In rare circumstances with exceptionally large or heavy orders, which includes every single order containing one or more culms of bamboo, or exceptionally valuable orders, we reserve the right to quote shipping charges and charge appropriately.  In most cases, domestic orders of small tools and components limit out at $24.95 for Priority Mail shipping or $35.95 for Ground UPS.

 International Rates**

International Clients:  I am very sorry to report that we have disabled the International First Class Mail option.  I must also note that orders to Italy are lost about 50% of the time, so orders shipped to Italy are shipped ENTIRELY at your risk; Even the USPS is refusing to pay out on insured packages to Italy if they say that the package was successfully turned over to the Italian Postal Service.  The mafia could probably run a more effective shipping operation.  I write this as someone who studied for a semester in Italy and has the fondest memories of Rome and many smaller towns.

Next up, the EU has sunk its claws into the United States.  Starting July 1st of 2021, if I want to ship to EU clients, I must collect and file VAT taxes with the EU.  No thanks.  The loophole, for the time being, is that orders over a certain size can be sent without collecting VAT and the VAT payment becomes the responsibility of the recipient.  Not that I love your taxes, but this is how it should be.  Pay your own taxes to your own Caesar, or overthrow your government and institute a better system.  I simply refuse to be an unpaid tax-gathering minion for an entity whose existence I’m not in favor of, nor benefiting from, nor truly subject to (for what it’s worth, I do collect and file PA state and US federal taxes as circumstances warrant).  Since our website only differentiates domestic and international addresses, all of you who are not in the United States are caught in this snafu.  I won’t suggest that you engage in tax evasion, but if you have friends or relatives in the US, you might gently explain that you’d like them to buy your holiday and non-holiday gifts from Golden Witch, have them shipped inside the US to your friend or relative, who, I believe, is still allowed to send you – their beloved friend or family member – untaxed gifts from abroad. 

  • $0 – $250.00 – No International Shipping Options.  Thank the EU for this; see above.
  • $250.01 – $399.99   – $46.95 For Priority Mail International/Limited Insurance (usually $200.00 to most destinations).
  • Large or Heavy Orders, or Orders over $399.99 –  must be quoted – shipping & full insurance WILL BE invoiced separately.
  • If You Want Full Insurance On Any Overseas Order Shipping By Priority Mail – Please EMAIL Before You Order To Discuss.  Usually we’ll have you order through the website, then we’ll send you a small insurance invoice through PayPal.  We CAN NOT insure 1st Class International Mail which is part of the reason it’s not currently an option.



While we ask that you do not send an order for regularly stocked, webstore-available items to us by email (because this is incredibly time consuming and we are always behind the eight ball on time), we welcome your emails concerning special order items.  If you want Jewelry Grade parts, please email us.  If you want us to craft a batch of custom stone guides using jade or agate rings you had a lapidary artist cut from fancy rocks you discovered while fishing, please email us (as a head’s up, email us before you have the rings cut and we can provide samples and specs for your lap artist; absolute minimum of ten identical guides, which means you must ship us at least twenty stone rings).  If you need non-serrated ferrules in any of the regularly stocked, tube & solder ferrule styles, please email us with the ferrule style, size, and whole or half set, and we’ll bring them into the shop with our next order.  If you need to match a vintage guide for a restoration, please email us.  If you are a first time rodmaker and need help picking components for your first rod or two, please email us….in this case we’ll help you pick components which you can then order through the webstore.  We do our very best to be helpful, while still being efficient.  Please bear in mind that, just like custom crafted and crafted-to-order items, special order items are unconditionally non-returnable and non-refundable.  Thanks!


Terms & Conditions

PLEASE NOTE: Terms & Conditions For Tonkin Bamboo Purchases Are Noted Separately, Below The General Terms & Conditions. Please scroll down…you’ll find the text.

SHIPPING:  We ship most packages the next business day after your order is placed.  However, if your order includes agate guides, blued components, custom jewelry components, or other custom items, please expect a reasonable delay so we can craft your item; typically this delay is 7-10 business days, during peak season (winter and early spring in the United States) it can extend to 10-15 business days. Custom products are not treated as back-order items, and this means we hold your entire order until the custom parts are ready to ship. If you need some non-custom items faster, please place a separate order for those items.  As above, we ship by Priority Mail, unless your order includes an item which requires Ground UPS shipping.  When we ship, we send a shipping notification through the appropriate service, which provides you with tracking information; however, please note that most international packages cannot be tracked – there is No Tracking for International First Class Mail; Priority Mail offers tracking to some, but not all countries. If you’re ordering internationally and you must have a tracked, insured package, we’ll gladly quote you using International Express or another option; these tracked, insured shipping options are very expensive, but sometimes necessary.

PRIVACY:  Your privacy is immensely important to us.  We will not sell or rent your name and address to any other company.  We will not share your name with any other client.  Occasionally a client may be hunting for a rodmaker or restorationist, or even another supplier of tools and components.  We will be happy to point folks in the direction of your business website, if you are another professional in the fishing industry, but we cannot facilitate individual contacts.  If you would like to learn the name of other rodmakers in your area, please contact your local TU or FFF group, or join one of the many rodmaking listservs on the internet. A growing resource for locating rodmakers and others affiliated with bamboo rodmaking, restoration, rod sales, and more are the several maps on the Peak Bamboo resource pages, which you can find here:

CANCELLATIONS:  Please order carefully.  Orders are ‘sealed’ – firm – once placed.   We often begin picking your order within minutes.  Orders for custom products – guides, blued components, etc. – cannot be cancelled in process (or refunded) because we will very likely have started making and/or finishing your parts within hours (for example, even if Russ won’t get to soldering your agate for a week, Drake may invest the time to prep your frame and pull a stone ring almost immediately after the order is placed).  If the custom parts are fairly standard, e.g., a red agate stripping guide in 9mm or 10mm, we may be able to re-stock them for a 30% re-stocking fee; this is entirely at our discretion.  If the parts are blued and/or highly unusual, e.g., gold filled & blued reel seat hardware, they’re yours.  Please inquire – BEFORE ORDERING – if you have questions.

REFUNDS & Exchanges: We’re very easy to work with and truly want you to be satisfied with your purchase.  We are more than happy to make exchanges or offer a refund on non-custom and non-special order parts up to 30 days after the date of purchase.  The exceptions to this rule are custom items (see Cancellations above), special order items, and vintage parts; vintage parts have a one week inspection period after they arrive at your location.  In either case, please email us and we’ll issue a Return Authorization Number that is valid for seven days (domestic) or 21 days (international).  You are responsible for prompt return shipping, unless we were in error when packing/shipping a part.  Many of these parts are fragile, so you must return all parts in a box, not an envelope, well padded and fully insured for the retail value of the item. Custom items CANNOT be returned for a refund; once ordered, they are yours even if they don’t suit the project you ordered them for. We’re very sorry, but we cannot offer long-term exchange services, i.e., just as we don’t offer refunds after 30 days from the order date (or 30 days after the ship date if we had to make something for your order), we cannot offer exchanges after 30 days.

QUOTING:  This is about us quoting you, not financial quotes.  We reserve the right to quote your emails to the company.  Normally, we edit out anything personal, cut the quote down to size to fit the rotating “quote” block on the product pages, and edit minor typos…we never alter your meaning.  If we post without obtaining explicit permission, we only quote nice thoughts, nicely worded…pretty general, but sincerely appreciated, words.  In some cases where your quotes may be particularly extravagant, we will email for permission to quote your wording and it’s perfectly fine if you decline; these would be cases where you rave about a particular product in a vivid and memorable way…the sort of thing we love to hear, but which you may or may not want broadcast widely (e.g., “I want to wear your Hexagates as jewelry!”).   We generally protect your identity by hiding your last name behind an initial, and hiding your specific location behind your country; however, we will sometimes quote your full name and offer business contact information if you are an industry professional or serious hobbyist who offers services and/or advice/instruction within the rodmaking community.  If ever you resent the fact that we quoted your kind words, for goodness sake’s please send us an email and we’ll drop the quote, with apologies for our presumptuousness. That said, if you ask us a question that leads, say, to a ramble on our website, we will keep your name posted and associated with the ramble and/or specific, related product text. That’s fair in two senses. First, you helped your fellow rodmakers by asking a question we felt compelled to answer in some specific, detailed way that merited repeating more broadly and we want to acknowledge you. Second, to be perfectly blunt, posting the information as a ramble protects us in case the information eventually winds up being quoted, re-posted, used as the partial basis for a presentation at a rod gathering, or that sort of thing. The info we share through rambles is usually quite nuanced, and if all the details aren’t shared, the results can be less than ideal. Further, I am a strong believer in the notion of giving credit where credit is due. Coming to any perceived expert for information, if you receive the information requested, bestows alongside that knowledge a perfect obligation to be forthright about your source, unless your source requested anonymity. Whether you write to Golden Witch, or another rodmaker, an educator, a restorationist, an author…if someone shares material with you that you then use for your benefit and the benefit of others, please learn to say more than a mere “Thank you.” Learn to tip your hat. I do it all the time in conversation, and I’ll do it here by way of example. Thank you to my students and my clients – your questions push the limits of my own craft abilities and my knowledge on a weekly basis.  Thank you to my family, my staff, and my business associates who all help GW to function; you know who you are and how integral each of you has become.  Thank you to Skip Morris and L.A. Garcia (extra big thanks to L.A. !!) who, along with Dale Clemens and his team, Dick French in particular, got me off to a good start with graphite rod building. Thank you to Michael Simon & his buddy Michel Fontan, for insight into bamboo rods and feather inlays, respectively…and later the paintings and the article which Michael created and authored. Thank you to Michael Sinclair for restoration information and much more.  Thank you to Andy Royer for so much related to understanding bamboo and the bamboo marketplace.  Thank you to Daryll Whitehead for a debt of knowledge that can never be fully repaid, except by working inside this craft and doing exactly what he did: sharing knowledge. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it were not for Daryll. He’s so critical, I can say with a cracked smile, if you don’t like the GW project and everything that flows from it inside the bamboo industry, blame Daryll.  😉  If you do appreciate GW, thank him. There are innumerable others and if you and I talk and some particular topic comes up, I’ll do my best to say the name of the man who shared a bit of knowledge, or at least I’ll say, “oh, one of the guys who wrote to GW told me about that technique.” What I’m not is a self-professed expert. I know a few limited, contingent things that might be useful for others to know. I learned them by reading widely, listening intently, watching others more masterful than myself, and then playing in my shop. If I write something and you’re a jeweler, you might recognize a debt I owe to Tim McCreight or to Alan Revere…I’ve read so much of their work, that their ideas may subconsciously flow as my own when I’m instructing, so here’s my hat tip to them. If you borrow ideas, and you do, please tip your hat whenever you have the chance. Let’s build a community of shared knowledge, not a false archipelago of seeming experts all denying that just below the surface lies a vast web of borrowed understanding. To give some sense for the vastness, the previous sentence was colored by the book authored and titled by another, far more famous, angler, Ernest Hemingway. Specifically, “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” And his title was borrowed from a line of John Donne’s poetry, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” Here’s Donne’s piece:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Accept it or deny it, for centuries, nay, millennia, some have recognized what we all should. We rely on each other, so at the end of the day, we’re either borrowing and thanking and continuing to share, or we’re stealing.

And here’s more than most of you wanted to know:

We ship via price-based rate tables. See the tables above to understand where your shipping rate will fall. Please contact us if you have a special case you need to discuss.  Customers get quite frustrated with shipping charges, so after many, many years of running a mail order company, we’d like to share a few thoughts.  First, all the shipping expenses are going to be paid for one way or another, i.e., by what is charged for shipping & insurance, or by mark-up on products.  We can’t stay in business if we lose money, so you want us to earn money on the products and you want us to break even on shipping expenses.  In order to use a simple price-based shipping table, we must build some shipping related expenses into larger and heavier products, for example the large rod wrappers, rod tube kits, etc.  “Shipping related expenses” is not remotely limited to postage or the Ground UPS fee, so you shouldn’t be miffed if we charge you $9.95 and you can see a $6.80 postage fee on the label.  We have an in-house reference table which allows us to select between paying USPS insurance rates (quite high, actually, but worthwhile for some regions of the country) or opting to self-insure packages, in which case insurance falls on us directly or indirectly, with small amounts being paid out of a reserve fund and larger amounts being dealt with by our business insurance; in some cases this self-insurance program accounts for the disparity you may see between the amount charged and the dollar figure you see on the postal label.  Thank goodness, very few packages are lost each year.  We’re also paying for boxes (in some cases, not other cases), packing material – the foam, the paper, the tape, the peanuts – which keeps your order safe in transit, and the labor to pack and process the orders.  As general FYI, Domestic orders are all insured when using Priority Mail or Ground UPS; International orders are NOT Insured, unless you request shipping by an insured method, in which case the rates roughly double.  Both the U.S. Postal Service and UPS raised their rates again in January of 2019.  We’re trying to keep our rates as low as possible, while not losing money, daily, on shipping expenses.

So many folks are used to seeing free shipping as a marketing gimmick in the U.S., that companies charging shipping are often glared at.  You, the consumer, need to understand how that works.  As noted above, you do pay for shipping.  If it’s not a line item on your invoice, then it’s built into the product pricing.  With inexpensive, and often poorly made, imported products you can have “low” prices and free shipping, but only because the margins on imported parts are insane (for you; they’re fabulous for the importer/distributor).  Another way that large firms cut their shipping expenses is by reducing labor costs.  In many cases, this means hiring minimum wage workers – in which case you get minimum wage service.  At GW there are shipping errors, but so rarely that they stand clearly in our minds and serve to caution us with every future order we pack.  With larger firms, errors are built into the process, and thus priced into the process – errors are business as usual.  Not here.  Also, some firms are now using robots; regardless of our thoughts on robots, this business is too small to even consider them as warehouse aids.  What does this mean for you?  It means the craftsman making your parts is often the fellow packing your orders.  It may mean the gal with a Master’s in finance has stepped away from an accounting role to pack your package, or write you an email.  Even the kids, who are learning to pick orders into the bins (among other company tasks), earn more than minimum wage, not as pay, but as household credits that they can use on approved projects: photography equipment, instruments, backpacking gear, hunting & fishing gear, art supplies, martial arts gear, books, and so forth.  You’re getting quality products that are made and packaged by hardworking, educated people, so please don’t expect free shipping unless you want to come volunteer your time at the packing bench for a year or two.  For our part, we all – kids included – volunteer outside the company, not within it.  Thanks for your understanding and support.

Oh, then there’s the part where we wind up “compensating” you for your shipping expenses.  What?  Well, it’s not a one-to-one thing, and it’s not on every order, but GW regularly ships “freebies.”  Our long-time clients have come to know and love the freebies.  Usually, they’re minor items, like hook tenders.  Sometimes, when we get a new product in from a supplier, or we design and craft a new guide, they’re big.  We’ve shipped ACW grips and guides as freebies.  There’s no pattern, no rhyme or reason, to what you’ll get.  If you are the first person to order after we finish up a photo shoot that relies on prototype items, you might get one in your box.  You could place a huge order and get nothing, though this is quite rare.  You could place a tiny order and get a hook tender worth more than our profit on the spool of silk you just bought.  Freebies are our way of thanking you for your business, introducing you to products you may or may not have tried before, and building a community of client rodmakers.  That community is what allows us to give away the freebies.  Remember the part above about how nothing is free?  Well, neither are the freebies.  But they’re not something, like product and shipping, that you pay for “directly.”  They’re the part we pay for out of profits.  Freebies comprise the bulk of our advertising budget.  How often do you see a GW ad in a magazine?  Not frequently.  We do a little intra-industry advertising, but not much.  Mostly what we do is send out samples with paid orders and count on you all to use them, or trade them, or give them to a new maker in your TU or FFF group.  You spread the word.   If you’re happy with our products and our service, it’s you folks who get out on the internet and cheer us on.  That’s how other folks discover us.  So, our advertising, such as it is, relies over 90% on our clients’ good cheer and willingness to refer other rodmakers to our website.  In return for not having to spend a fortune on magazine adverts, we turn what had been our advertising budget around and use it to fund freebies.  Most of these go out individually to paying clients.  Sometimes a package will ship to a rodmaking group.  There are minor rules.  You have to live with the luck of the draw – no requests on Freebies.  You have to place an order – except for rodmaking groups we support, we don’t ship freebies for free.  And if you can’t use a freebie, please don’t throw it away…donate it.  Thanks!

I still get questions about the shipping rates.  Here’s a typical interaction:

January, 2021.

Hi Russ, I have a quick question for you today.  I wanted to order the 6.5″ cigar cork handle from you.  The price is fine, but why is the shipping almost 14 dollars for a cork handle?  Just wanted to know, because I can have a cork handle shipped from [your competitor] for 5 dollars.  It is what it is, but wanted to make sure I am not missing something on it.  Hope you are having a great day.  -Jonathan

Hi Jonathan,  Fair question.  The short version of the answer is that with GW I’m competing on quality – of products and of service – and definitely not on price.  Among other things, I don’t have a minimum wage crew packing orders.  Most days, I’m the one making parts and shipping parts, and my salary is the same regardless of task.  Many of our clients take advantage of free domestic shipping on small parts, but the order volume is higher ($500 min.); a lot of clients pay full shipping rates for items as small as a tiptop or a spool of silk – our inventory and our turn-around time make the transaction worth it for some folks.  At the inventory end, take ferrules as an example.  We stock thousands of sets across eight varieties and the full range of sizes…we can usually ship what you need when you need it; several of our competitors list ferrules for sale, but only order them in after they receive a retail order so the turn around time is far greater, though the price may be a bit less.  Coming at it again from my perspective inside the business, I’m stacked up three weeks deep on custom parts and often a few days deep on getting non-custom stuff out the door, so I don’t need to lower the rates to compete against the big discount houses in order to stay busy.

The much longer answer to a question I get with some frequency, is here (scroll down…it’s lower on the page): .  [Yes, this is the page you’re currently reading, so no need to follow that link.]

In the end it’s up to you, and every other potential or actual client, to decide what sort of shop, what sort of product, and what sort of individuals, you choose to support.  When you buy a grip from GW, you’re supporting me as a product designer and retailer, as well as a whole chain of farmers and craftsmen in Portugal.  When you buy a reel seat from GW, Bellinger, or Lemke, you’re saying you value American craftsmanship over mass produced seats churned out in an overseas factory.  Every rod you make winds up reflecting your tastes and your values.  Whether you sell your rods or gift them all away, you’re the one who determines if each rod leaving your shop is a short story (I made the blank and bought all these components from XYZ…not sure where they got the parts from) or a long narrative woven through with tales of craftsmanship (I made this blank using such and such bamboo…check out this website; the guide was made by this fellow…look at his construction notes so you can see what goes into making an agate stripper; the seat – wow! – so & so worked with me to find just the right piece of spalted maple and he blued the hardware so it’s a pretty darn close match for the stripping guide frame; and those silks are no longer made…your rod was wrapped with my last spool of Belding-Corticelli; etc.). 

I’ve been at this for over two decades.  The makers who can make their tackle tell stories worth repeating are the guys and gals who keep making rods, both out of love for their craft, and because their friends or clients want to hear another story, and want to own another unique rod. 

Kind regards,  Russ

Thank you for getting back to me.  I do support American business and I will definitely order the cork handle from you, because I was unhappy with the cigar cork handle I received from [your competitor].  I will have that ordered today.  Have a great day. – Jonathan


Tonkin Bamboo Terms & Conditions – Please Read & Understand Before Ordering:

These terms and conditions are shorter than the End User License Agreement that attends all the technology you sign off on with a dismissive click. They’re more interesting, too. And, if you don’t agree to these terms, then you simply can’t buy bamboo from us. That sounds awful, but we mean it in the nicest way because we want to be up front with you about the limitations of your purchase and your rights upon making a purchase.

Peak Bamboo Tonkin Culms

You, the rodmaker, are paying me, Russ Gooding, a partner in Peak Bamboo and the owner of Golden Witch Tech., Inc., to grade this bamboo. I charge for my time, which is built into the price of our Peak Bamboo culms, and I stand by the grades. However, grading is the subjective act of defining limits on a continuum without place markers. The grade is my subjective response to the nine attributes I consider with each culm. We have created a separate document discussing these nine attributes.

Graded culms are not replaceable or refundable based on your subjective impression of them. Bamboo is a natural product. We sell it and ship it on an as-is basis and all bamboo sales are final. If your package is insured, and if the package was lost or damaged in transit, you may make a claim for the loss or damages through the carrier and we’ll help you through the process. We suggest you inspect the material immediately upon arrival and make the claim while the driver is still standing at your doorstep. Otherwise, the bamboo is yours after it leaves our company. If you’re not happy with the quality of the bamboo, please either purchase a higher grade of bamboo or vote with your wallet and shop with one of our competitors in the future. There’s no harm in this and we still welcome you as a Golden Witch tool & component client.

Expect mold. Especially if you are an international client, and even more so if we ship to you by ocean freight, the bamboo will experience a mold bloom. When the bamboo arrives, mix up a solution of bleach and water and wipe down your culms immediately to remove any mold, then dry the culms and store them well. Please be careful when wiping the culms down…the edges of the drying split, and the tiny remains of leaf stems in some leaf nodes are both extremely sharp and will cut you if you’re not careful.

Should you prefer, we absolutely and cheerfully invite you to visit our warehouse, Sycamore Mill, on a scheduled open warehouse day. Come be that kid in a candy store, enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea, and peruse our selection of graded culms. You can sight down them for straightness. You can heft them. You can nitpick them. You may pick your culms, full-length, from those we’ve sorted into the big racks, or you can grab cut culms from the bins. Either way, taking a peek at our racks filled with bamboo will inspire you…so many rods, all waiting for their craftsman.

We are not in the business of selling bales. While I do most of the writing, Matt summed up this issue best. “Grab bags are for factory seconds and last year’s model. Peak Bamboo is quality oriented, first and foremost; selling by the bale does not allow for us to implement the quality control that you, the rodmaker, deserve. And though it may not seem so on the surface, ultimately, purchasing by the bale costs you more. There are other resources available for bale purchases, but if you want quality assurance, Peak Bamboo is here to serve you with our selection of high-graded culms. ”

If you buy A grade material and you’re not happy, we suggest buying A+ material with your next order. And/or re-orienting your expectations. Bamboo is a natural material and it is not flawless. Every single culm of A grade material will have some modest combination of flaws, not limited to: a bug hole or two or more, watermarks, mottling, an undiagnosed stain, a kink, curvature over the length, lack of sufficient heft, a jealous green hue when golden straw is preferred, excessive heft due to residual moisture, a butt diameter that is slightly larger or smaller than ideal, an unfortunate split, splinters, recalcitrant and very likely mummified bamboo bats, a growers mark, etc., etc. You’re not paying us to magically eliminate all the potential flaws in a given stick of bamboo which grew wild, year after year, on a Chinese mountainside. You’re paying us to deliver the best of a wild-raised agricultural product. Please be realistic in your expectations, and that means you should expect some flaws….or think of them, perhaps, as beauty marks, accentuating the otherwise lovely reaches of cane, gently ringed with nodes, each culm promising to harbor within its walls one glorious fishing rod. As I type this, I’m thinking of Michelangelo’s “Prisoners,” his half-hewn statues which demonstrate how adept he was at the creative removal of material. Believe me, he worked around some flaws in his marble and still created masterpieces. You can do the same with bamboo that has a freckle, or bug burrow, or some other blight.

If you buy our A+ material and you’re not happy, then we simply cannot please you and you should shop for bamboo elsewhere in the future. We’ll still respect you. We hope you’ll respect us for trying our very hardest. We know that even the A+ sticks are not perfect. If you must have perfection in your raw materials, this really is a matter to address with the deity of your choice and is far beyond the purview of we mortals. The best that we can do is deliver bamboo that has been thrice sorted in China, shipped here, and high-graded by a reputable rodmaker and component supplier. After much labor, sorting and sifting, the culms we present as A+ are not perfect, they’re just the best we can find within a given load from one annual harvest. They are worthy of your finest efforts. We stand by that.

Thanks for your understanding and, we hope, the chance to earn your business.

On Politely Dealing With People….

I’m taking the vast liberty of including a note from a client here, along with my response; both edited for clarity. Our client remains unnamed in what follows. You already know mine, and that’s enough. The background is that this gentleman (and I mean that term sincerely, as you’ll discover) ordered ferrules that he hadn’t intended to order. There were several emails that went back and forth trying to sort out what went wrong with his order. As I’ve written elsewhere, we do make mistakes, though they are fairly rare because we pick orders into a bin (first check) and we carefully wrap and pack the orders into your box (the second check). Because we do make occasional mistakes with orders, I always approach frustrated clients with the notion that we made an error, then I work to sort things out.

Here’s the gent’s final email on the subject of this order:

Russ, You’re right on what I ordered. I’m good – I can use what I have for my three piece and any left overs I can buy halves and make up the difference. I read some of your stories about customers on the internet and boy are those true stories. Everyone today wants to blame everyone else for their stupid mistakes. I’m a perfect example, thinking you sent the wrong things where I was the buffoon who ordered incorrectly. Again thank you for being to nice about the whole thing. A reason why I will continue to order from you. (signed)

And here’s my reply note:

Good morning,

Hey, I’m glad Nikki & I packed up and shipped the “right” parts, i.e., the stuff you ordered at any rate. And that you have enough components on hand to finish out this rod, which is great.

Working the retail end of this craft ‘industry’ has its challenges, but it also has its rewards. Thank you for investigating at your end, and for your kind note last evening as well as your continued business! For what it’s worth, you were also kind in how you approached this – decent language along with your offer to buy any extras that we had shipped. Believe me, decency is sometimes in short supply. Nikki had to listen to a phone message earlier this year that would have made a sailor blush, apparently because our wholesale (Arcane) website doesn’t accept direct orders and, instead, urges retail clients to visit retail sites like Mud Hole or Golden Witch. The string of vulgarity that fellow unleashed was almost humorous after the third time through trying to decipher what his problem actually was. My tongue is not perfect, but usually I’m cursing myself for errantly torching a fingertip on the opposite hand or something along those lines. In dealing with others, Kurt Vonnegut said it best through one of his characters, Bluebeard I think, “Vulgarity is the collapse of eloquence.” The point of this being, you & I are all good. I like working with nice people even when there are confusions/errors. Do enough business with us and someday we will ship you the absolute wrong parts on a time-critical rod – might be 100% our goof, or it might be a mis-labelled part in a supplier’s bag (11/64 ferrule in a bag labelled #10/64….or #1 snakes in a #1/0 bag – that happens a lot), but that’s still our responsibility. We’ll appreciate your patience with us when that happens.

I sincerely hope you’ll find a way to travel up to our gathering in September of 2017. It would be good to meet you face to face and shake your hand.

Enjoy your day,