The Snakecharmer

“because fly lines are wild snakes that need to be tamed… “

here’s the beast, a 7’3” 6wt hexagonal bamboo rod with a bamboo ferule and a very special super-fast taper (faster then most fast-tapered carbon rods) specially built to my specs from Ulf Löfdal. although the lower 3/4 of the rod is very fast the upper 1/4 is very supple, sensitive and with a fantastically fast recovery speed (going from bent to straight after loop formation), enabling great loop control and line tension. some relate fast to being stiff but this isn’t the case for this rod. it’s got a lot of power yet the experienced caster remains in full control whether it’s for casting in the short, middle or long ranges. not what one would expect from your typical bamboo rod.
i’ll have a lot more to say about it later when i’ve fully assimilated it’s potential but one thing’s for sure, it’s gonna make for some fun times in the future !

8 thoughts on “The Snakecharmer

  1. I was bitten by the bamboo bug a few years back. Fortunately, I can’t afford to go nuts with it. The Snake Charmer is very, very interesting, though.

    First, it’s hollow? I assume that makes it lighter? My old bamboo sticks are heavy. They are also very slow, which I like, but this one is fast and that alone makes it different from what I would expect. I like the idea of a bamboo ferule, too.

    I like the slow, relaxed casting stroke of my bamboo and the way I can feel them load. They just can’t be rushed. What really got me “hooked” though, is the connection to the fish — every head shake and turn is felt. I don’t know if the fish get tired any quicker, as some people claim, but I know my arm gets tired after more than a couple of hours.

    Is the hollow rod with the bamboo ferule a relatively new thing or is it more of a European design?

  2. hey Quill !
    yup, hollow is indeed lighter. i would need to find some scales to have exact figures but if i refer to the ever elusive ‘feel’ factor, it feels ‘just right’. at 7’3″ it’s difficult to compare to carbon rods as it’s rather rare to find them this short in the 6wt range. safe to say that a longer rod would most probably have a much higher swingweight.
    from what i understand (very little, i’m new to bamboo but i’m curious), it also enables a more selective tapering of the strips which in turn enables to deviate from the traditional slow or heavens forbid, parabolic bamboo action. slow rods don’t do it for me as i don’t want to have to wait for them to do their thing. i want them to ‘work’ WITH me. most of my casting involves some kind of effect(s) and faster yet sensitive rods make that a lot easier and more precise. afaic, slow rods that ‘boing-boing’ all the time should be used as tomato stakes or put up on a pub wall for the pleasure of drunken nostalgic traditionalist purists… 😆

    the Snakecharmer has a hex design (six strips) throughout the blank and ferrule. as far as i know, the bamboo ferrule isn’t a new concept as i’ve seen it on several other rods from different builders. the purists don’t like them. i guess they have a selective idea of what pure is…
    a nice added bonus is the hex ends can not twist like round ferrules do. something very nice for a single-hand spey cast fanatic like i am as these casts create a lot of torque resulting in inevitable unaligned rod parts that need to be check regularly, a problem i have with almost every carbon rod i have, specially the Sage rods.

    interesting you also find a higher receptivity to fish movement with bamboo. i’ll ask around if others share this notion.


  3. Hi Marc,

    I’m curious on the makers method of designing a bamboo taper with similar characteristics to a graphite rod, in this case the TCX. Was it a matter of trial error to approximate the graphite rod? With a bamboo ferrule that would be a time consuming and costly exercise. With NS ferrules the time and expense would be much lower but the results wouldn’t be the same.

    I’ve wondered if a design method exists where graphite rod measurements can be quantified and produce a similar curve based on something like a Garrison stress curve to make direct comparisons with bamboo. Sure the materials and construction are different, but it would be cool to have some way the ‘feel’ and ‘action’ of both rod types can be equated with a curve. Of course trial & error or field testing will need to be used to refine the job but at least the curve would be a starting point. However, I’m not necessarily advocating making bamboo rods behave like graphite or vice versa.

    Anyway, good luck with the experiment and I look forward to hearing more about the progress and your thoughts on the results whether they be positive or negative.



    • hey Boris,
      just a quickie, i’ll add more later.
      i wasn’t involved in the actual making of the rod and i have no bamboo rod building experience. Ulf Löfdal wanted to make a different type of action and asked for my input and what kind of rod i’d like.
      -it seems that basically anything is possible when one completely understands the properties and capabilities of bamboo. in fact, it’s easier and more accessible to the common person than carbon. they can be taken apart and reworked too.
      -the plots and curves are a custom made computer program. 😉
      -the ferrules are not part of the blank but glued to it.
      – i definitely would advocate a move toward having more carbon-type actions with bamboo materials. some carbon rods are pretty much perfect, i can’t imagine what would be wrong with combining old and new methods of rod design to make something unique like or similar to the Snakecharmer.
      there are two more variants of this rod in the making. a 5 and 9 wt. i can’t wait to try them out !

      there will be a full review pretty soon but for now but apart from being a little short at 7’3″ for serious river fishing and it being 2 piece which is a bit of a pita for traveling, it’s pretty much perfect. it’s a rod that’s really hard to put it down.
      btw, it’s the first prototype. that says a lot about Ulf’s building capabilities. 😎
      you can find a link to his site in the ‘Partners’ section. it’ll be updated to english soon but in the meantime google translate will get you through it.


  4. Marc,

    Just lately I’ve been fishing more with a 6’6″ 5wt bamboo rod in streams and small rivers. In Australia where I live, trout rivers are much smaller than they are NZ or Europe. At first I was concerned about its lack of reach, especially while standing in fast water just below a pool tail trying to hold the line off the faster water to prevent dragging the leader & fly in the slower pool tail water. Or when mending line in complex currents at longer distances. But now that I’ve fished a bit more with these rods I seem to have gotten comfortable with its length – just like any rod – and now position myself in such a way that allows me to fish these rods just fine. But having said that I don’t notice its short length as a limitation.

    I have to admit I did make an 8’er for a trip I had earlier in the year to Europe. I fished it in north east Italy. I completed it about a week before I flew out so I didn’t have much time casting with it and I wasn’t really excited about how it felt but after fishing with it a few times I’ve gotten to like how it casts. But mostly I fish with a 6’6″ & a 7’er.

    Yes, you’re right, in my case bamboo allows a mediocre craftsman, fisherman, and caster like myself able to make a rod from scratch in any action, length, build appearance, and wt I desire. That was one of the things that attracted me to the journey. But having fished with a few bamboo rods I was also convinced it was not an inferior material just different. Besides that I like working with wood.

    “…..Carbon-type actions with bamboo….” LOL specifically what action characteristics are you referring to? Sure, nothing wrong with making bamboo rods in such a way that maximises it potential. There are some great builders around and it seems they turn up in unexpected places. I did see the link to Ulf’s page and his rods look nice and if he’s got the capability to make software programs to assist with his designs I’m not surprised his first prototype is good.

    Anyway, good luck with the journey.


  5. hi Boris !
    actions: i was referring to mid to fast actions not usually associated with ‘boo rods. they all seem to want…
    “A proper cane rod should be sloow progressive for relaxed casting with silk lines , you should be able to have a cup of coffee for the time the back cast transfers forward and if the rod dosent do this for you, just grow some tomatoes and use the rod for tomato stick in your back yard or send it to me Ill grow some tomatoes for you.” 🙄 😆

    regardless of action preference i have to admit i’m baffled by the “for the time the back cast transfers forward” bit although the idea of being able to have more time for coffee is attractive… :mrgreen:


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