Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson

Mixed Media
Rubicon Bamboo Fly Rods

Maker Statement

In an economy where time is money and the quest to produce things more cheaply is the rule, I feel there’s still a place for things made the old fashioned way – one at a time. My fly rods are hand make one at a time - not mass produced by computer guided machines. Each is a one of a kind creation with a spirit and heritage proven to perform flawlessly for a lifetime. Why fish with a rod made in a factory, when you could fish with a piece of hand crafted fly fishing artistry?






I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time stalking trout in the streams and rivers of the Southern Appalachians, Sierras and Rockies. Since my rods of choice are made of bamboo, I began making, collecting and fishing them many years ago. I learned bamboo rod making from Gary Lacey, one of the world’s top bamboo rod makers. Since that time I’ve been involved in the making of hundreds of rods for L.L.Bean, Wright & McGill, and scores of collectors and fly anglers around the world. My rods are 100% hand crafted using traditional materials and methods that can take 35 to 60 hours to build. Each one starts with top grade Tonkin bamboo that’s split into strips, straightened, planed to within 1/1000”, glued, bound, dried and sanded. The result is a near flawless rod blank made to the client's exact specifications. Based on client preference, the handle, snake guides, tip top, stripper, winding check and reel seat are hand built and fitted to the blank. Antique silk thread wrap patterns are applied, and finally 4—6 coats of a high grade marine spar varnish is applied to form a tough, yet mirror like finish. As a serious student of bamboo rod building – past and present, I’m always exploring new techniques, tools and materials to convert “boo” into a better rod. As a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, I demonstrate rod building at the Guild’s Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway several times each year. The rest of my time I'm building rods or "field testing" a rod on some remote stream.
No Galleries Found