Wyoming man makes bamboo fly fishing rods | Territory

Johnson splits a bamboo stalk with a knife inside a woodworking shop in Laramie, Wyo., June 21. Johnson made 25 bamboo fly fishing rods in his lifetime.

Andy Carpenean / Laramie Boomerang

By EVE NEWMAN Laramie Boomerang

LARAMIE, Wyo. – Jerry Johnson remembers the day he got hooked on fly fishing 44 years ago.

A colleague at the University of Wyoming – Johnson worked in preventive maintenance – suggested he fish a hatch on the Laramie River.

“I went there with a fly rod and I did and I never looked back. It was so much fun, ”he said.

He also remembers the first time he caught a fish with a fly that he got attached to.

“It is a real joy the first time you catch a fish on a fly that you have tied. This is the real experience. You really fooled the fish, ”he said.

Johnson takes the experience a step further, however, by making the bamboo fly rods that he uses to throw the flies that he ties up himself.

“It’s all me, except for the line and the leader,” he said.

Fifteen years ago Johnson’s wife bought him a book on making bamboo fly rods, and since then he has made about 20 of them.

“It was his mistake,” he joked.

Not many people bother to attempt a delicate process that takes him around 60 hours – he knows a handful of other Wyoming residents who have the expertise. It requires specialized equipment and raw materials from distant lands, but above all it requires careful attention to detail and an appreciation of tradition. The result is a work of art.

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