New #tenkara project

I have my first ever tenkara project. This past weekend, I was out running errands and decided to stop at our local charity shop. It’s a place I seldom frequent (although my wife loves it!), but it’s a place you can occasionally find some amazing things.

While wondering around the crowded aisles I found this bamboo rod.

(Apologies for the poor photo, I had a difficult time figuring out how to photograph it.)

It seems in relatively decent condition (minus the years of dust built up on it) and is in fact a whole piece of bamboo. All the pieces (as best I can tell) seem cut from the same piece. There are no cracks or other damage that I can find and it still seems amazingly supple. It clearly needs to be cleaned and revarnished.

The largest diameter piece (with the “reel"attached to it) is 55.5”/141cm long. The next largest piece is 53.5"/136cm. The smallest piece is 47.625”/121cm long. This is a combined length of 13.625’/398cm long. Not to mention, it’s probably one of the straightest pieces of bamboo I’ve ever seen.

It cost a shocking $4. I’m going cut off the guides.

And I am going to remove the “reel” as well.

After that, I will attempt to apply some new varnish and attach a lillian to it to make a bamboo tenkara rod. Last, but not least, I need to replace the joints that hold the three pieces together. One of the two joints still works, but the other does not. There seems to be what was an old label from a builder near the “reel”, but, unfortunately it is now too faded to be able to read it see anything on it.

I figured that I’ll give it a try. At worst I’ll spend $50 and I’ve spent it on lesser things. At best, I’ll have a very interesting new tenkara rod. If I remember correctly, I believe some people here have worked with bamboo rods in the past. So if you have any tips or thoughts or recommendations (especially where to get supplies), that would be appreciated.


Good luck, interested to see what you report back.

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Thanks. I’ll post updates as I progress.

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Cool project.
I wonder if you took a close up picture with just the right lighting, if digital enhancement might make the makers label readable. From my previous occupation, I learned that digital enhancement works by shifting pixel values either side of small almost imperceptible edges. Making the slightly darker pixels a little darker and the slightly lighter pixels a little lighter. Changing the edge from a smooth gradual change into more of a sine wave shape. It makes the rest of the image look less smooth, or more noisy. But it does draw small details out of the background noise.

The rod looks a little bit like a 14 ft. Fenland Spanish Reed & Whole Cane Float rod I found with a google search.
But the rod guides looked more similar to the guides on a Harry’s (of Alnwick) rod I also found. Both are or were English rod makers.

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That’s a great idea David, I’ll have to see what I can do. I think my wife has a program on her computer that might be able to do that.

If it transpires that the rod does turn out to have been made by Hardys of Alnwick I am sure that they will assist with any information you may require. Hardys are now owned by Pure Fishing of the USA but still operating from Alnwick, although under the name of Pure Fishing. Here are their contact details -

Hardys take a pride in their history and have a museum in Alnwick.

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Excellent! Thank you for the information David.

Todoroki-san has so many post about Hardy stuff I lost count of it.

I think the first post was Nov. 2015.
This post from Dec 2105, also includes an embedded movie on YouTube, a documentary The Lost World of Mr. Hardy. Its a 90 minute movie. I have only watched about five minutes of it. Not had time to watch longer. I hope it’s a good movie, the thumbnail description is that it is about the old time used to be when craftsmen made beautiful things. Rods and flies. But no more. Killed off by globalization. If it’s more about lost pride of work I’ll like the movie, if it turns in to mostly a long whiny explanation of their theory of what caused it to happen, not so much.

YT made me sign in to watch it. The up loader appeared to want people to operate on the honor system, and pay a few bucks. I wish him luck. Today to many call a person of honor a fool for paying when not forced to. The last local honor pay parking lots disappeared years ago. Sad state really. I was always one of the fools.

Todoroki-san has a bunch of post with Hardy rods or reels, seems to own several. Other vintage ones too. The number of different types of flies he had tied and posted to his blog is amazing. I did not realize how diverse it is until an unexpected event sent me off searching through all his blog post from oldest post till most recent. I thought I had done that before, must have missed a lot.

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I was never able to make anything of the sticker that was originally on the rod. It was oval in shape and near where one holds the rod. A previous owner had made attempts to remove it prior to my purchase. So, I’ll never know the origin or history of the rod.

Thus far, I’ve removed the old guides and ferrules. I’ve also stripped off the old varnish. After that, I sanded where needed and installed new ferrules. The next step is to put on a lillian and wrap the ferrules with silk thread. The final touch will be to apply the varnish. Then I’ll have my own bamboo tenkara rod. I fit all the pieces together yesterday afternoon and they are beautiful. At 4m long, it will be a bit too heavy to be a one handed rod.

Fitting new ferrules.

New ferrules fit and epoxied in place.

Post stripping and sanding.

This last photo was taken just prior to applying the stripper to the old varnish.


Hey Peder, what ever happened with this project?

Thanks for asking. Well, we ended up buying a house and the project got put on pause. Admittedly, kind of forgot about it.

I having everything to finish the project, just need to do so.

Thanks for the nudge.

Great! I can’t wait to see pictures of the progress over the next few weeks. :wink:


Hahaha. You’re more optimistic than I am about when it will be finished. I’d be excited if that happened, but my schedule is pretty busy.

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