Since I last ran a bamboo fly rod in the vintage tackle contest, a bunch more have found their way into my inbox. It seems that not only are you interested in the value of the rods, but the quality. As many commenters pointed out in the last post, if you own a bamboo rod, you should fish it at least once, as nothing feels quite the same when casting. The rod below belongs to Guy Molinari, and he is the third generation to own this Fish King. It was purchased by his grandfather, handed down to his dad, and now it’s Guy’s.
“Bamboo fly rods had a meteoric fall beginning in 1949 with the advent of fiberglass. Only two kinds of bamboo rods survived–the very high end (Leonard, Payne, Orvis) and the lower end, largely dominated by Japanese imports. You have a rod from the second category, a post-war three piece bamboo fly rod, though I don’t believe it was made in Japan. This rod has many of the hallmarks of a Horrocks-Ibbotson model, so I believe it dates to ca. 1955 and (unless it is marked “Made in Japan” somewhere on the rod) was manufactured in Utica, New York. Few people remember Horrocks-Ibbotson, but from the 1930s to the 1970s it was one of the three largest tackle manufacturers in the United States. Post-war bamboo fly rods don’t have a lot of collector value, so I suspect your rod is worth around $25-$40 at the high end of the market. I looks like it is in decent shape, so take it out and see if it can still catch fish!”
Guy, just remember that a bamboo fly rod need not be worth thousands to cast beautifully and bow under the strain of a heavy trout. Keep passing this one down through the family, and definitely keep fishing with it. Thanks for sending, and enjoy the Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Duffle Bag that’s headed your way.
If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Duffle Bag (below, $70).