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The 7 Best and Most Affordable Bamboo Fly Rods in 2019

The strength and flexibility of bamboo make it the ideal material for several different products. What you may not know is that bamboo is also an excellent material for fishing rods. It’s true, from the 1870s to the 1950s, bamboo fly rods (also known as split cane rods) enjoyed 75 years of top production in the United States.

When products from China were placed under embargo, bamboo fly rods were harder to attain and their popularity with anglers was replaced by the new graphite or fiberglass rods.

Highly skilled craftsmen are making state-of-the-art bamboo fly rods today, and anglers enjoy their slow action and gentle touch over traditional rods ‘ rapid action. Unfortunately, cane rods can be expensively priced at the low to mid-thousands, because they are often handcrafted by traditional rod makers rather than mass-produced.

In this article, we’ve done our best to find the highest-quality, most affordable bamboo rods for fishers who are intrigued by the smooth casting and soft touch of the split cane rod but aren’t looking to spend an arm and a leg.

Why Choose Bamboo?

Some people falsely believe that bamboo rods are simply collectors’ items. Fine craftsmanship indeed goes into building a bamboo rod, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great rods that should be added to your rotation. Here are some of the top benefits of using a bamboo rod.

Bamboo Is a Natural Material

Since bamboo is a natural fiber, many anglers describe the feeling of gripping a bamboo fly rod as organic. Bamboo fly rods allow the angler to feel the motions of the casting, making them suitable for the most delicate and subtle presentations as well as for fishers who appreciate the slow and versatile motion of the rod.

Bamboo Has Weight

Bamboo is the heaviest material made for fly rods, making them perfect for when you’re looking for accuracy and precision. For example, use a bamboo fly rod when you plan on fishing with dry flies, emergers, or unweighted small nymphs on small to medium-sized streams and for when the trout starts to surface.

Just remember, though, if you are planning an all-day fishing excursion, bamboo fly rods are noticeably heavier than their modern counterparts, so you might want to use your graphite rod for these occasions.

Bamboo Demands Attention to Detail

Because of the heaviness of the bamboo pole, the fisher should slow their throwing stroke and truly focus on its timing. A graphite pole doesn’t have a similar finesse in casting as a bamboo rod. The feel and sensitivity of the bamboo pole compel you to ponder your fly presentation and how your line lands on the water. 

In a sport where graphite rods have allowed anglers to neglect the nuance of the fly cast, bamboo takes us back to our fishing roots, where we become one with dock or boat.

You’ll Pass These Down to Younger Generations

Although we don’t want you to think you’re just investing in a collector’s item, a bamboo rod is such a high quality rod that even from the list of affordable choices below, you’ll be happy to pass your bamboo rod down to younger generations of anglers.

The craftsmanship in a bamboo rod is different from that of a graphite rod because the bamboo look cannot be replicated or mass-produced. This quality means you’re getting a unique look and feel that you’ll grow to love and couldn’t duplicate if you wanted to, even from the same craftsman.

Product Reviews

Here’s our roundup of 7 of the best bamboo fly rods out there at an affordable price point. 

Headwaters Bamboo Bamboo Fly Rod | Deluxe Series 2-Piece with Extra Tip | Classic Bamboo Fly Fishing Rod Handplaned of Tonkin Bamboo Using Six-Strip Construction | Choose from Six Sizes

Meet our top pick, the Headwaters Deluxe series. Headwaters is a U.S.A. based company that specializes in bamboo rods, and they’re happy to give you a new way to enjoy fly fishing.

This fly rod uses hand-planed quality Tonkin bamboo. The two-piece rod comes with an aluminum tube and a rod sock with an agate stripping guide. You’ll throw a nice loop and enjoy wet flies with Headwaters’ well-designed rod.

Pros

  • Two tip sections help relieve some of the pressure of the natural weight of the rod for longer fishing trips.
  • Ultrafine cork grip
  • The lifetime warranty and 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Comes in six sizes for different action

Cons

  • Due to the bamboo material, this rod is on the heavy side
  • It may take some time to load and cast versus a graphite rod
New Bamboo Fly Rod Blank 7'6' for #5 Line Wt,2 Piece with 2 Tips.

New Bamboo Fly Rod Blank

Best Budget Option


You’ll love the price of this fly rod, that’s why it’s our pick for the best budget bamboo rod. Made by Zhu out of Tonkin bamboo (a popular choice), this is a split, shaped, and coated blank rod that you can build yourself.

The two-piece rod comes with two tips and is good for slow to mid-action when finished.

Pros

  • Control and customization of finishing your rod
  • Since this set includes the raw material, it’s so affordable
  • Comes with ferrules glued and no visible glue lines

Cons

  • You’ll have to purchase cork grip, reel seat and some other parts separately
  • This rod is for skilled anglers who also craft rods
New Bamboo Fly Rod 7'6' for #5 Line Wt,2 Piece with 2 Tips.

Another option from Zhu, that comes fully assembled and is made from the same quality Tonkin bamboo. This 7’6, two-piece rod comes with two tips. The red silk windings and black tipping contribute to the overall master craftsmanship of this rod

Pros

  • Truncated, nickel silver ferrules fit together well
  • Reel seat with wood insert
  • Cork grip
  • Spar finish

Cons

  • The rod seems delicate so store it carefully
New Split Tonkin Bamboo Fly Rod,2 Piece 2 Tips ,7'6' for #5 Line Wt

The new split Tonkin bamboo rod is a great price and the quality is comparable to some much more expensive collector’s pieces. Like the Bamboo Fly rod, it has red silk windings and an up locking reel seat for precise rod attachment.

Pros

  • The grip turns nicely
  • Well-aligned guides
  • Great action
  • No glue lines
  • Well-fitting ferrules

Cons

  • Since these rods are handcrafted, they may not appear exactly like the images
GUFIKY Classic Bamboo Fly Rod 7'6ft,3wt,2 Pieces Handmade Fishing Rods with a Free Spare Tip

This fly rod option from GUFIKY is another budget friendly one that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the bamboo build.

The two-piece rod has an excellent varnish finish and comes with a cloth rod sheath for its protection.

Pros

  • This rod is on the lighter side for a bamboo rods but great for efficient casts
  • The varnish leaves a great looking finish

Cons

  • Some ferrules may not fit correctly which would make them pull apart from the rod
Special Design 7.6'3pcs 2tips Wooden Handle Bamboo Fly Rod #4 with Delux Tube

Made in Guangdong, China, this Special Design bamboo fly rod is a three-piece rod made of a six-sided Tonkin cane bamboo construction with two tips.

Pros

  • Relatively light weight for great casting
  • Red windings hold guides in position well
  • Hard chromed snake guide and stripping guide
  • Up-locking mechanism to make sure rod is attached well
  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Ferrules may be problematic and need to be repaired
zhurod New Split Bamboo Cast Rod, Bait Rod 5'1',One Piece with Handle

Another Zhu original, which is a meticulously designed piece of work with Tonkin bamboo cane that we can’t get enough of. Yet another affordable choice, this one comes with a high-quality handle and is only one piece. It’s on the shorter end at 5’1 versus the other rods (which are all around 7’).

Pros

  • Great medium action
  • Takes a lure weight between 1/16 and 3/8 ounce
  • Line holds between two and six pounds
  • Great customer service if any issues arise
  • Well aligned guides

Cons

  • Not as much flexibility but that’s to be expected with the one piece

Go Bamboo

This is your first bamboo fly rod, so these low-cost options are perfect because you won’t be afraid to break them. Even if you do, the great thing about bamboo rods is that they can be fixed, unlike graphite rods, which are usually history.

Most of the rods we reviewed come with two tips, but if you find one that doesn’t, it’s always good to have a spare lying around. You never know when you might need it. We know once you get your hands on a bamboo rod, you’ll always want to keep one handy.

This may be your first bamboo rod, but we can safely say it won’t be your last! You’ll be a collector before you know it.

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