A Way of Life
"There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind." ~Washington Irving~
Matt Albaugh is the rod smith behind Albaugh Rod Company, ARC. He builds quality bamboo fly rods and blanks.
Matt has been in the rod smithing business for 8 years. His custom built blank have helped many anglers build their first bamboo fly rod.
Anglers love the smell of a handcrafted bamboo fly rod, and Matt's custom made bamboo fly rods have allowed many anglers to explore new and old fishing spots.
Matt was fortunate to grow up amongst the historic fisheries of Pennsylvania. He currently lives and fishes in Idaho alongside the greatest trout streams anywhere!
Becoming a rod builder was a long time in the making. I have always loved all things fish related and working with my hands. It was just a natural drift into the endless journey of rod smithing.
If I had to pinpoint the moment I was set on a collision course into the world of bamboo, it would be on a fishing trip in college. I found a piece of cutoff bamboo floating in the river.
I remember studying the cutoff culm and wondering how a rod could be made from it.
Shortly after the fishing trip, a friend purchased Garrison's book, a known bible to bamboo rod makers. I flipped through the pages and studied the diameter and taper charts. It was a sick mixture of statistics and trig.
I put Garrison's book back on the shelf literally and figuratively. I would have to wait before I could devote more time to the dark art!
Over 10 years had past. I was now a father of three children, married, and working in the prison. I was at a stage in my life where I needed to get off my fishing plateau and ascend to the next level.
My next level was bamboo rod making!
I began searching the internet and found some old archive information on bamboo rod making. It was difficult piecing together the information from old list servers and message boards. There was so much conflicting information, and I didn't know if any of the opinions were true.
I got to a point in my search where I was suffering from "paralysis by analysis." It was time to act, but I was worried. The financial cost of this venture was starting to add up.
I had to purchase forms, bamboo, an out of production 9 1/2 Stanley Sweetheart plane, replacement blades, calipers, depth gage, etc. My confidence in the venture was fading. I thought, "Who are you kidding?" But I wanted to be part of the fishing industry.
I discovered an old bamboo supplier's website and another for forms. They gave no confidence in validity. The websites looked like an old 'work from home' classified ad. I thought, "Would someone exploit a small niche market for fraud?" I called the supplier, and then with blind faith I mailed off a check and hoped for the best.
There is no one stop shop when building bamboo rods. This was a huge barrier. When I started, I had to find an out of production specialty blade and build my own oven. I had to build tools to make tools. It wasn't a straight forward procedure.
I was slipping into a quagmire of unknown, but I was hooked.
I received the bamboo by mail. The first time I check split the bamboo, it shot off a loud bang. The crisp bang of the culm was all I needed to keep moving forward. I made about 10 rods before I started selling blanks and then rods.
Anyone who fishes is aware that a perfect rod doesn't exist. I love bamboo because it aligns with the sport of fly fishing. Bamboo fly rods force you to slow down and have a more relaxed experience.
There is a poetry in the motion of a fly line, and bamboo accentuates it!
The cast and feel of a bamboo fly rod is part of fly fishing. If it was just about catching a fish, any fishing pole would work. However, I love hooking trout, and bamboo fly rods offer fly fishermen the ability to connect to the sport on an emotional level.
I honestly love building rods. I find it an escape and relief from the "bigger, faster, better" mantra of society. Bamboo fly rods offer simplistic beauty. I want other anglers to have a nice rod, and I have the capability to offer anglers a bamboo fly rod.