Old Fishing Rods


Old fishing rods were made in wood (e.g. Hazelnut-wood, Ironwood, Greenheart, Willow, Bethabara, etc..).

Bamboo came later, first from India, then from China.

We are talking about the 1800s, and especially the second half of the that century.

So, talking about fishing rods one thinks of wood (very valuable items because coming from the pre-history of fishing and, specifically fly fishing - always a niche market) and bamboo (here the values varies from a few dolalrs to a few thousands dollars, depending on many factors).

Fiberglass arrived in the early 1950s from the aeronautic reseaches of that period, This start to be valuable item to collect too. In fact I looked into collecting old spinning fishing rods, too.

The moon race brought to a new material which is still used today: carbon fiber. I don't think there is a market for colelctors yet, here.

In short, there are three main periods for collecting bamboo rods: wood (the origins), bamboo (the legendary period), fiberglass (a niche within a niche for collector).

I deserve most of this website to anqtiuqe bamboo fishing rods: perhaps the best period in fly fishing, which lasted up to the 1970s)


(October 2009)

Everett garrison, antinque bamboo rodsIn order to get acquainted to old bamboo fishing rods I wrote a few articles.

But before I give a listing of those pages, I would like to tell you that most of the old bamboo rods that you might find at home, in garage sales or in the attic are commonly not very valuable.

So don't expect to become rich. The value is priceless when you get the historical perspective, though.

Many bamboo rods were made for the mass market and so were cheap, low quality rods. After World War II, many US soldiers also brought home very cheap non-hexagonal bamboo rods from Japan. Well, these rods are still very cheap and are virtually worth nothing.

In case you need some "make money ebay" tips , here is a useful page to read ! (This is for both how to make money and how not to to loose money on eBay)

To get serious in collecting these old fishing rods, you should have rods by Leonard, Orvis, Payne, Pinky Gillum, Garrison, Paul Young, Dickerson and so on. And within the group, the "special" ones are those well maintained or even in "unused", new, conditions. Hardy rods are usually NOT much worth, perhaps in the 200$ range (with exceptions, of course).

Some examples of values?

Here is a simplified listing from the latest (Fall 2009) "Classic and Vintage Fishing Tackle" of Carmine Lisella (ask for a catalogue!), a rather famous vintage tackle dealer in New York state:

  • Orvis "99". 7', 2/1 in remarkably little used conditions: $575
  • Leonard 38H red wrap, 7', 2/2 likely made early '70s. Some mars to reel seat, dirty cork and guide wrap at the female ferrule needs attention otherwise excellent condition: $1,700
  • Payne 98, 7', 2/2 4wt. Late production, varnish restaured, original silk left in place. With original bag and tube: $3,900

And again, in short:

Vintage Fishing Tackle catalogue by Carmine Lisella
Carmine Lisella's Autumm 2009 Catalogue is an excellent catalogue to browse through old fishing rods and vintage fishing tackle


  • Leonard 48-4 Hunt: $4.200
  • Pezon et Michel Ritz: $625
  • Orvis superlight: $250
  • Orvis Deluxe: $650
  • Orvis Battenkill: $250-$675
  • South Bend 24: $250
  • Payne 204: $2400
  • Leonard Mills Standard: $1,300
  • Hardy Phantom: $525

And so on. Got the tune? A good overall view of names and prices is Rolf Baginski's book Split-Cane Rods -- Bamboo Treasures where on the end pages of this excellent book (pp. 268-289) he explains how to start collecting cane rods and give some quick price information from catalogues and auctions based on the years 2000-2004.

Ok, here are links you might find useful for further reading:

Rolf Baginski's notes on what to look at in an old bamboo rod

Quick Navigation
Everett Garrison
Ed Payne
Jim Payne
Lyle Dickerson
Morris Kushner
H.S. Pinky Gillum
Paul H.Young
Hiram Leonard
Charles Frederick Orvis
Hardy (UK)
EC Powell and Co
Walton Powell
Goodwin Granger
Walter Brunner
Heddon Fishing Rods
Vincent Marinaro
Pezon & Michel
Farlow (UK)
Odgson (UK)
South Bend
Fred Divine
Edward vom Hofe
Henry and Thomas Prichard
Thomas H. Chubb
Charles F. Murphy
Seely Edsall
Alonzo H. fowler
Browning Fishing Rods
John Forrest kelso
Billy Edwards
Hiram Webster Hawes
Fred Thomas
Winston Fly Rods
Wes Jordan

A little bit on the people behind those names...see the "quick navigation" on the right -------------------------------------------->

And a little history, angling history...and a further glimpse on old fishign rods


Oh, the best book to learn? Voilà: The Fine Bamboo Fly Rod: A Master's Secrets of Restoration and Repair

Then also this one: Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook by Michael Singlair.

Then you can also check auctions like Bonhams. And get catalogues like Mr Lisella's one.

Check here, the Len and Carol Codella Website for examples of rods and values as well!

There is no shortcut. To build up knowledge about antique bamboo fishing rods, you must be patient and apply a constant effort.



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