the first thing you need to know about Luke Weiser is that he builds the most incredible custom fly rods, and he loves it. He’s a quiet man, reserved, thoughtful, and meticulous. Everything he does manages to get all his focus, kind of like he wants every move to be perfect. Luke has spent years refining his skills, and he’s got an unnatural knack for building things. But mostly, he’s the kind of guy that you’d trust because he knows that there’s a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something. Luke makes everything the right way.
Luke Weiser fly fishing rods are made from the finest bamboo in the world. Sure, we can work in graphite or other fake materials, but that would be forgetting something crucial. Fishing is the balance between nature and objects, animals and people, chance and skill. Bamboo fly rods embody this balance because they’re the result of nature and skill meeting, just like fishing. The forests in China give us the material and Luke’s master skills makes it a perfect and unique fishing rod.
I work in bamboo because it movesLuke Weiser
the way nature wanted a rod to be
It’s about the kind of angler you are, your style, your environment; the part of fishing that you love the most. I tailor to everything. Fast or slow action, designed to any length; I make the rod that fits you. I take into consideration the reel and the line you choose. Everything about how you fish is embodied in this rod. I take the time to get it right and build the ultimate rod of your dreams. The first step in our process is to fire the bamboo culm. This takes out some of the remaining water and gives the wood the desired color, from a pale blonde to a dark chocolate brown.
The culm is then split into 24 separate 1/4-inch strips. I then hand-select 18 strips from various sides of the culm. Not all of the strips come from one side. I am looking for the right pieces to make your rod. The selected strips are straightened, and the nodes are flattened. These select straightened strips are shaped using a planer into equal triangles and bound, after which they go through a second heat treatment. The nodes are once again carefully checked for flatness and hand-filed flat if needed. The outer enamel is scraped and hand-sanded off the outside edge of each strip, making them perfect.
The next step is to set a planning form. The first strip is Hand Planed and measured. If it is not correct the form is reset deducting the proper depths, and the strip is re-planed. This step can be repeated several times until the strip is within .001-inch over the desired measurements. The strips are never allowed go under as this would possibly create a lighter action or weight rod than desired.
Once all strips are planed to the final dimensions, they are glued and bound into the sections of your rod. The glue dries over the night and the next morning the sections go through a final heat treatment. This is to heat set the glue. When the rod sections cool, the binding thread is removed and we do one last sanding.
The rod sections are then cut to the proper length per your needs, and the Ferrules are prepared and glued into place. The rod sections are then dipped into a spar varnish and let dry. This finishes the rod blank. Rings, Sliders and Reel Seat
he Premium Cork Rings are glued together on a brass mandrel and allowed to dry. I then shape them on a lathe to your exact specifications. Wax molds are created for the top locking ring, the butt end of the rod and the slider band, if that is what you want. One of the many options you have is for the Slider Band to be Hand Forged from bar stock of either silver or gold. You can also choose to have gem stones set in as accents. Remember, this is your Dream Rod. It will be made to your liking.
I send the wax molds out for casting using silver, gold or whatever is requested. Once back, the casts are cleaned and polished to a High Luster Finish.
It is in the Reel Seat that the majority of the customization comes from; each one is a one of a kind. I turn the reel seats to your specifications. This includes the type of wood, shape of the seat, number of accent laminations, type of accent laminations and more. There are many options. Silver, gold, and different stones have been used for accent laminations. At each lamination, the glue dries for several hours. This is where the time to create perfection comes in. I have done seats with as many as 20 laminations involving both wood and metal.
I carefully shape the stone for the Striping Guide. This can take days to create, as I’m making it perfect. You can choose almost any type of stone; the key is selecting one that does not fracture easily. The ring is then sent out to have the bezel set around it. A matching stone is shaped for the butt of the rod that is then set into what you desire.
Wood and design patterns are matched as the reel seat is created for both the base and tip of the cork handle. The base is attached on the cork before it is installed onto the blank and hand sanded to seamlessly blend the joint between cork and wood. The rod is then assembled with the cork going on first, then the tip of the handle. Again, It is hand sanded to blend the wood and cork into a flawless extension of you.
The rest of the reel seat is assembled, and guides are then whipped on using fine silk thread. The whipping receives several coats of epoxy and dried for several hours, then the sections are again dipped into spar varnish for final coats, being careful to not dip the handle into the varnish.
nce fully dry, the male and female ferrules are fitted, and then the rod is test-cast to ensure it is exactly what you dreamt it would be. The only commercially purchased component on my rods are the ferrules. Every other component is 100% Hand Crafted.
t is hard to have a price list with definite prices on a Custom Rod, as each one is a one of a kind. I will try to give some general guides as to where I start at and what is going to increase the cost. One of our Custom Bamboo Fly Rods starts at $3500.00. That will include a two-section rod with two tips and a leather case. The length and weight are up to you.
Our standard for the hardware is sterling silver (I am slowly switching to Argentium Silver because it is whiter and harder). Either up or down locking seats can be done. I use slider rings for the locking ring as I am not crazy about the look of threaded locking rings. I have done a 14K gold rod. Pricing on that will vary with the current metal pricing. Also if the customer has a special ring, it is possible to incorporate it into the seat as the slider.
The custom rod reel seat is where most of the customization happens and creates the variations in pricing.
Snake Guides are hand crafted as well and again are Argentium Silver.
All custom rod components on Luke Weiser rods are hand crafted with the exception of the ferrules. I pride myself on my customers getting the best product I can give. I have very few components outsourced. They are the bezel on the striping guide and the fish logo, both of which are hand crafted, and the ferrules. I create everything else by hand.
Once we have worked out a price for your Custom Bamboo Fly Rod it will not change. If in the past I have given you a price for a Bamboo Fly Rod, I will honour what I have given if you just send me a copy of the email that has the price quote. In addition, I try to keep all quotes that I give so I should be able to look it up.
Why should I fish bamboo or why do you build with bamboo?
There are a few reason people prefer bamboo to graphite. The first and foremost is tradition; bamboo was the original material for fly rod makers. Many of the people I talk to at trade shows learned how to cast on their grandfathers bamboo fly rod that now sits on the mantel piece as a family heirloom.
Second I would say is the sensitivity; you can feel so much more through the rod and land much larger fish on lighter tippets. Mother Nature has created an ingenious material that man has not been able to recreate. It can, in the hands of a skilled caster, throw an entire line out or land a delicate little midge dry fly so perfectly. Watching that trout take the dry fly and then feeling the tug on the rod is truly amazing on a bamboo fly rod, something that I love to share with anyone. Yes a bamboo rod is a slower action than the graphite’s, but once the caster learns the patience to slow down I feel the time spent on the water is that much more relaxing.
Third ties in with why I build with bamboo. They are long lived rods. Again, a lot of the rods that people have told me they learned to cast on are still around, but they have a lot of sentimental feeling behind them so they are on the walls in a place of honour where the owners dare not cast them for the fear of breaking them and losing all the memories they hold. Most of these rods are still usable but I agree the memories should not be risked.
Why do I build bamboo fly rods?
First is the longevity. I want to be the one to build the rod that you teach your children or grandchildren to fish with, to help with building memories.
Second, bamboo is tough. It can take a bead head strike with little to no damage. Yes still check the rod and see if it nicked the edge or scraped the varnish but the rod will not crack and cause a failure in the next 5 or 10 casts. In some parts of the eastern world bamboo is used as scaffolding to construct multi story buildings.
Third, it is a fast growing renewable material used to make paper, clothing, flooring, furniture and so many other products. The biggest hurdle I have come across is that most people feel it is a delicate rod that will break upon picking it up.
Your get what you pay for.
The main reason that the rod is pampered is the cost. Yes, they are expensive but they last for generations and are surprisingly easy to maintain. Don’t put them away wet and don’t use the same tip all the time, the tips will get a bend in them over time if it is stressed in the same direction repeatedly.
There are many more reasons that I love bamboo fly rods, and if you are ever in my neck of the woods I would love to give you the opportunity to try one to see if you love it as much as I do.