Testing The Traditional

I find cane rods fascinating. I love to fish them and wish I owned several for small stream work. In my mind a split cane rod is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship used for the delicate work of soft dry fly presentations to wary wild trout. I always saw the essence of a cane rod to be based in small waters doing delicate work.

It appears that not everyone agrees with me!

It was by accident that I stumped upon a post in The Classic Fly Rod Forum that made take a second, closer look. A user by the name of EOTR was posed with fair sized Jack Crevalle. These Atlantic cousins of the famed GT are well known for their aggressive, hard fighting nature. But it wasn’t the fish that made me stare; it was the fact that the fisherman was holding a split cane rod!

The offending picture...
The offending picture…

Curiosity aroused, I read on. It appeared that EOTR had built the #12 splitcane and proceeded to catch several serious saltwater species on it.

I joined the forum and sent EOTR a mail. A very friendly Brent Nickerson replied and had the following to say:

“I decided to try cane for saltwater fish when my buddy organized a Tarpon trip to Manzanillo, Costa Rica. Manzanillo is literally at the end of the road (on the Caribbean side) southbound in Costa Rica – hence the name for my rods and reels EOTR. I’ve caught Tarpon (150lb), Jack Crevalle and Bonefish on cane. I have not tried cane for Permit as it seems too slow for that once in a lifetime shot at long distances. That’s about it for salt species, however I’ve had phenomenal experiences catching Taimen on cane. The largest was 48″ – photos exist somewhere on the forum.

I built the rod myself. After the 150lb tarpon I felt a little undergunned for the larger fish we had seen so I built a #14 but did not find any interested Tarpon on the next trip. I’m planning a trip to the Yucatan in a couple of months and will take a #10 for the baby tarpon in the lagoons. These run 20-30lbs and should be a blast on cane.

If I recall correctly I built the #12 and #14 rods in 2005. They are both 3 piece/ 2 tip rods.“

A Taimen taken on a #9 split cane in Mongolia
Brent with a Taimen taken on a #9 split cane in Mongolia
The 150 lb tarpon - unfortunately there are no other photos of the fish!
The 150 lb tarpon – unfortunately there are no other photos of the fish!
Close up of the #12
Close up of the #12
Fighting a Taimen on a #9 split cane.
Fighting a Taimen on a #9 split cane.

I have heard of saltwater fish being taken on cane before, but nothing more than bonefish other flats species. But trevally and tarpon!

As it turns out out, Brent just returned from a trip to Mongolia where fellow South African and friend of feathersandfluoro, Jako Lucas, guided him for Taimen. Brent and his rods also make an appearance in the thought provoking “Fly Fishing is a Joke”. See around 3:50 and 4:35

Brent also builds his own reels.  Below are some stunning examples of craftsmanship and engineering!

Many thanks to Brent for sharing his thoughts and photos with feathersandfluoro!

Three rods, three reels, all made made by Brent!
Three rods, three reels, all made made by Brent!
Close up of the #12
Close up of the #12
This rod appears at 4:35 on "Fly Fishing Is A Joke"
This rod appears at 4:35 on “Fly Fishing Is A Joke”

custom graphite, glass fibre, bamboo and split cane fly rods

Reel seat and ferrule detail on the #12
Reel seat and ferrule detail on the #12

3 thoughts on “Testing The Traditional”

  1. metiefly says:

    What a Craftsman! Thanks for the brilliant article as always. Excellent pictures too – there is an Architect in Cape Town who makes cane rods to order… Have you met him? He has a blog too! All the best – metiefly

  2. B.Fabre says:

    Wonderfull !!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Brent you Rock and I love the Name!!!

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