Handcrafted fishing rods with soul - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Handcrafted fishing rods with soul

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Fishing is a past time for many. One man is customizing the industry with his Made in Vermont rods that he hopes will become a tradition themselves.

Jim Becker has been fly fishing since he was a teen.  For him, it's a release.
The old saying, "a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work," is a credo Becker says he believes in.

And even when Becker is at work, he's dreaming about fishing. He hand crafts traditional bamboo fly fishing rods for his company -- J.H. Becker Rodworks. "Its just a certain niche and its got a certain feel," he said.

Becker has been making rods for almost 20 years.  Much of his career was spent at outdoor gear and clothing retail giant, Orvis.

All the rods start with Cane -- Tonkin cane to be exact. It's a variety of bamboo that only grows in China. One piece is referred to as a comb. "It's kind of neat because they've been around since the mid 1800s and a lot of classic rods are out there," he said.

Traditionally bamboo rods are passed down from generation to generation.  And you can see why they last. The bamboo is as strong as steel, but more flexible. Becker drives knives through the bamboo in order to split it for the rods. "We'll split it down to 24 sections out of one comb," he said.

The sections are then tapered and turned into a traditional hexagon shape. "The biggest part is the tapering of the rod or giving the rod its soul," Becker said.

Each detailed rod takes at least 30 hours to make and start at 750-dollars.  They can cost several thousand dollars.

Testing the equipment is what he calls the best part of the job. Unfortunately for this reporter, it takes more than a good rod to make a better fisherman. Maybe the nearly 200 other fishermen who've ordered his rods have had better luck -- and a family heirloom they can pass on.

"It's something they'll have for a long time and in many cases will hand down to other generation," Becker said.

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