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the philosophy behind my bamboo fly rod building concept

TAKE NO KOKORO
[Japanese for: Spirit of Bamboo]
In my shop I have a framed small Japanese ink writing and drawing, which was presented to me by one of my Japanese customers after he received a rod I built for him.

It shows the calligraphic signs for Take no Kokoro.

Takeshi-san (meanwhile he has become a dear friend of mine) wrote with this gift for me: “Bjarne, I can see and feel you have an understanding of Take no Kokoro when I hold and fish my “Feather of heaven” which was the name he gave the “Le Connoisseur 633” I built for him (do yourself a favour and visit his wonderful homepage, different and warm-hearted click here for the Takeshi-san site).

Now let me try to explain to you in which way my respect for Take no Kokoro affects my rod building
Close tolerances in rod building are of great importance, mostly in regard to rod action. If you want a precise impression of a certain taper you must be able to reproduce this as closely as possible. Besides selecting strips without weaknesses for your rod, close flat to flat tolerances along the rod are necessary to avoid weak sides and thus produce a rod with homogenous transfer of energy all along the rod.

But how you achieve these desirable close tolerances, once you have a rod taper worth building, makes the difference between just another nice rod and a masterpiece.

I do not believe it's possible for a craftsman to create anything of worth and beauty, if he does not love, what he is doing as well as loves and respects the materials he uses.

For me, being a rodmaker, the material is bamboo, the lovely weed.

From the moment I start building a rod, I have a constantly continuing, emotional dialog with the bamboo, I select for this rod. When I handle the bamboo in one way or another, I have to be in touch with it physically to feel, how it responds to my doing.

If I don’t have this contact, I am not in contact with Take no Kokoro and I can not treat it with respect and understanding. All this has some consequences for how I build a rod.

Following a few examples
For straightening the node area I use freehand straightening. Using any sort of device to force, press, or even worse, compress bamboo is out of the question for me. I want the bamboo to react to my doing of its own free-will, and to perceive my manipulations as help.

When I start to produce the tapered, triangular shaped strips going into the finished rod, I imagine the finished shape of the strip already hiding in the rough strip, all I have to do is to peel away the surplus material. To do this in harmony with bamboo I plane the strips by hand. This is the only method where I constantly feel in contact with bamboo. During each pass with the plane I get a response from the cane telling me what to do next.

This kind of intimacy is impossible to obtain when using a milling machine.
Every single step of my rod building procedure is guided by my love and respect for Take no Kokoro, and the result I strive for is a rod, where all strips willingly take their position and function in creating a harmonious totality.

This is why I call my rods

spiritual bamboo fly rods