Bill Critchfield  Custom Cane Flyrods

I fished my first bamboo fly rod as a kid growing up in Wyoming because that's all we had.  Sure, the new fiberglass rods were hitting the market like crazy, but we didn't own any and, besides, Dad had a few old Montague and Horrock-Ibbotson rods (and one very special rod by some guy named "Payne" which we weren't allowed to touch), and they seemed to work pretty well.  We would get down to a favorite hole on the Popo Agie, casting into the slow water behind huge granite boulders.  Sometimes we'd stand on top of the boulders and drop our fly right over the side into the icy quiet spot behind the giant rock the fish used as a shelter lie.  If we were lucky enough to hook a trout, nine times in ten we'd lose the fish trying to drag him up the side. . . Later on, I learned to fly cast on the banks of the Yellowstone, the Firehole, the Madison and Crawfish Creek .  Unfortunately, we moved from Wyoming, though we made many trips back to Yellowstone.  We moved to Kansas and fly fishing became a distant memory.   Many years later, now middle-aged and with a family of my own, we settled in Minnesota and I rediscovered fly fishing and the catch-and release ethic.  We fished the nearby streams in Minnesota and Wisconsin, made week-long trips to South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas and Missouri,  and it wasn't long before I began rebuilding old bamboo rods as a hobby to get through the long winters.  

I found out rather quickly that, if you wanted to rebuild old bamboo fly rods, you had to be able to make replacement rod sections, so I slowly acquired the appropriate tools.  I bought four old Stanley 91/2 block planes, various rough out forms, Japanese sharpening stones, a steel planing form, and built a power beveler.   After rebuilding and selling over 200 older rods, I got pretty good at wrapping and varnishing rods.  It was only a matter of time before this "hobby" evolved into making new rods from scratch.  In the last 17 years I've built and sold just over 400 new cane rods. I'm starting to get pretty good at it!   I'm now making about 30 rods per year. 

As an avid fly fisherman, my goal has always been to make rods that are first and foremost highly functional.  I didn't want to make rods for show.  I wanted rods that would fish well and, if cared for properly, last a lifetime.  If the rods look good, that's a bonus.  I have experimented with many tapers to arrive at the dozen or so tapers I make routinely.  I like many of the Paul Young tapers because they combine power and delicacy like no other.  I like a couple of Dickerson's tapers, and I've developed my own tapers which have impressed my customers.  

I also want to make these rods affordable. My sincere desire is to put my rods in the hands of everyday fly fishers who will enjoy them!   In my mind, a good bamboo rod should cost no more than a high quality graphite rod.  I think my pricing reflects this idea.   My preference is to make FLAMED rods because I like the effect of flaming on the action of the rod.  Most rods use 2x2x2 node spacing.  I hope you'll take some time to view the  GALLERY to see some of the rods I've made.  Email for more information. 

Bill Critchfield
1855 Dunkirk Lane North
Plymouth, MN  55447

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