Proudly celebrating 26 years in rod making and education


“This class has been a life changing experience. We were so lucky to learn from one of the finest rod makers in the art.  The limitless energy and dedication to insuring that we walk away with the best experience possible was Doug’s goal every minute of each day.”

“Amazing that we were able to convert raw material into a fine fishing rod, Doug was able to assist each student at their own level as needed”

- From Student Comment Forms filled out by students after my last Rod Making Class at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Bamboo Fly Rod making Classes

The principles of handcrafting bamboo fly rods are highly established

as you make your own split-cane rod that incorporates heritage, tradition and craftsmanship.  Learn how to select top quality Tonkin cane, heat treat, taper and assemble a one tip , two piece fly rod.  You will leave with a hand-planed rod ready for finishing complete with

all the components, a rod tube and rod sock. One of the new classes "Bamboo Fly Rod Finishing" (always the weekend following the “Making” class) is the companion class, so consider signing up for it also and make even more progress towards completing your new treasure.

Bamboo Fly Rod Finishing Classes

By special request from students in the process of making their own bamboo fly rod. Discover how to take a raw bamboo fly rod blank and transform it into a fully-finished, stream-ready rod. This class features hands-on demonstrations and will cover many options for completing a blank - various finishes, wrapping techniques, dipping methods and other details. However, due to curing time required for the blank varnish, some steps will be studied in a shortened format. Note: There will NOT be time to complete your rod in class.  This class is frequently taken along with the rod making class and is scheduled the weekend afterwards for that reason.

To register for classes at The John C. Campbell Folk School in 2014,  I suggest that you go to the Folk School web site and request a catalog.  Sign up early as the classes fill fast.  If a class is full, it is a good idea to asked to be placed on the wait list in case someone is unable to come and cancels their seat (it did happen once). Registration for all classes may not be open depending on the date of the class you that you have an interest.  The Folk School staff can answer questions concerning when the registration for specific classes is open.  Call the John C. Campbell Folk School at 1-800-FOLK-SCHOOL or visit them  at

Rod Making Class Schedule 

      (Sunday-Friday Session)
April  22-27, 2018 (Sunday-Friday Session)

Rod Finishing Class Schedule
(Always follows a week long Rod Making Class)
(Weekend Session)                          
April 27-29, 2018 (Weekend Session) 

Refurbishing Class
(weekend class)
November 16-18, 2018

Rodmaking and Finishing Class
July 12-19, 2018
Arrowmont Art and Craft School (Gatlinburg, TN
Unless otherwise noted, all classes taught @ The John C. Campbell Folk Schoolhttp://www.folkschool.orghttp://www.arrowmont.orghttp://www.arrowmont.orgshapeimage_9_link_0shapeimage_9_link_1shapeimage_9_link_2

Work week...  most classes at the Folk School take a break at 4:30 daily, we tend to work thru to dinner.  We also tend to come back to the classroom after dinner.  In the evenings we work until about 9 p.m.  This is not a requirement but expect some extra class time in order to complete your rod.  I encourage you to experience other activities and to visit other classes, as well as, spend time with family, spouses, or new friends.  I will never cover new material unless all students are in attendance. It is not uncommon for me to correct students early in the week after they refer to themselves as rod builders.  I explain to them that a rod builder takes a prebuilt blank and completes it.  A rod maker actually makes or creates the blank.  I further explain that it may seem like a minor difference now but it will mean alot more after 40-50 hours of hand planing.  By the weeks end, they “get it”.

Basic List of Tools for use in the Rod Making Class

This is a list of hand tools that you may already have and can bring with you.  All tools

are provided but bring your own (if you have them) and we can evaluate

them.  This is only a short list of tools that are needed to make rods.

Hand-plane (standard angle, adjustable mouth model 9 1/2 such as the Stanley or Lie Nielsen or others)

Replacement blade from Hock Blades or Lie Nielsen ( these blades can be made to be sharper than the original blades provided)

Dial Caliper 6" (metric not fractional)

Depth Gauge with 60 degree point (point is an additional item and does not come standard)

Depth Gauge Base(Enco # 610-5000)

If you would like to have items like Agate Stripping Guides or other special items for your rod contact me at least 2 weeks prior to the class and we can discuss your rod and place orders for special components.

Rough Working Schedule for the Week

(This schedule can change based on overall progress of the class)

Sunday Evening - The class will meet in the studio, get to know one another and discuss bamboo as a material, what to expect during the upcoming week and we will begin talking about different tapers.  The discussion will also revolve around the type of fishing each student enjoys and what rod taper might best apply to their favorite streams.

Monday - We will select bamboo and go thru the process of splitting out useable strips (six for each section of the rod).  The strips will be bound with cotton glace and heat treated.  In order for everyone to hit the ground running, your first 6 strips (for the butt section of your rod) will already be planed to rough 60 degree angles by me and will be ready to heat treat.

We will process the taper information used for the planing forms and start hand planing.

Tuesday -  After dividing into 2 person “Teams” we will setup our planing forms (the “Jig” that is used to make the strips the proper dimension)  and input the “numbers”.  Given that the bulk of the work is accomplished with hand planes we will cover the hand plane, its parts and operation and how to sharpen blades correctly.  We will also go over how to hand plane bamboo strips while in the planing forms.  Next... we start planing our strips.

Wednesday -  We will continue hand planing our butt section strips.  It is hard to estimate but I would say that 70% of the process involves hand planing.  A real key (one that you will hear me emphasis repeatedly)  is working with sharp blades.  Dull blades makes the process difficult and there fore less enjoyable.  We will sharpen frequently and use sharp blades.  In order to make sharpening easier and more precise, I bring a Tormek Sharpening System with me for the students use.  We will learn about angles, blade material and how use the Tormek.

If “on Schedule”, we will finish our butt strips and bind them together as a test, without glue.

We will repeat the process that we went thru earlier and input the taper numbers for our tip section to the planing.  And as we did with the butt sections, we will start hand planing these new strips.  Some will be able to “glue up” their butt sections. As the day progresses, I will be creating your rough tip strips, when your progress allows each student will work with me to prepare and heat treat their strips.

Thursday - We will continue hand planing.  As we complete that process, we will “glue up” the tip sections.  We will prepare the ferrules for mounting onto the rod sections later.  Heat straightening will be explained and as needed done.  When the glue is properly setup we will remove the binding cord and sand the butt sections.

Friday - This is a half day of class working time due to the weekend class schedule.  After taking the rods down from where they have been hung drying.  You will sand them down to remove glue and the rod sections will be placed in a small lathe and turned at the ends to mount the ferrules.  While the ferrule glue is setting up, we will begin covering the parts of the finishing process that you will do at home.  Certain parts of the finishing process are not done in the class due to the fact that the finishes require time to cure and most students cannot travel with “wet” finish.  THERE IS NOTHING THAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO TO FINISH YOUR ROD THAT WILL NOT BE COVERED IN THE CLASS.  I will do demonstrations/presentations on guide preparation, guide wrapping, finish options,  and finish application.  We will do a general shop cleanup (as we do each evening prior to finishing for the day) and go the the main meeting room (The Keith House) and have our closing ceremony.  For those not taking the Rod Finishing Class (a weekend class) this will be the end of the Rod Class.  If taking the weekend finishing class we will continue the class. 

The Rod Finishing Class Rough Working Schedule for the Weekend

Friday late afternoon/early evening (Friday is only a half day) - We will take care of lose ends from the week.  At this point, our ferrule glue should be fully setup and we will go thru the process of fitting the male to the female ferrule.  This is a long slow process.  It is said that the difference between a proper fit and ferrules that do not fit is “the thickness of smoke”.

Saturday - Once everyone has ferrules that fit we will start the wrapping process.  After discussing guide placement the rod blanks will be marked.  We will evaluate different wrapping methods/systems and  have a demonstration of rod wrapping.  Students will select the color thread that they would like on their rods.  The goal for the day is for each student to have the guides for their butt and tip section completely wrapped.  By the end of the evening we will apply the wrapping finish / epoxy for the rod and leave it overnight in a turning motor.

Sunday morning (Sunday is only a half day) - After returning from our last breakfast together, we will find our rods with the wraps completely dried and hardened.  They will be removed from the turning motors and ooohed and aaahed over!!!  We will discuss finishes, finish application methods,  rattan handles,  how to make hex shaped wooden rod tubes, care and maintenance and any other area of interest.