In a backwards world where function unfortunately all too often
seems to follow form, it's nice to know there are rod builders
like Don Andersen who instinctively know that it should be
the other way around. Don's hand-crafted split cane fly rods
are built to fish: the fact they also look good is an added
bonus in my books.
Great fly rods have the power to cast a line as far as
your abilities allow, and the finesse to gently guide the
fly where it needs to go. Don Andersen builds great rods
that not only have power and finesse, but that also have
the warmth and tradition that only a hand-crafted split-cane
fly rod can possess.
I'm very fortunate to own and fish three of Don Andersen's rods.
Don didn't really want to build the first one I ordered from him
(an 8' for #5) when we first met in 1984 because he told me it would
be too slow. He was only partly right, though. It is slow, but
that's precisely what I wanted, and for more than 15 years now it's
been my rod of choice when I fish Stauffer Creek where short,
accurate delicate casts are mandatory when fishing this
beautiful but unforgiving stream.
My second Andersen rod is a beefed-up version of one of Don's
favourite models (the 7'9" for #5)
which he custom built for me after noticing that I have an
unusual power stroke. It's become my fish-anywhere rod
which I use day in and day out on all waters from Lost
Creek to the Athabasca River.
My third Andersen rod (an 8' for #6)
was a surprise which Don presented to me a couple of years ago
while on our annual spring trip to the Oldman and Crowsnest.
This is the rod I use when the streamers and nymphs are heavily
weighted, or when the hair-wings are big and bushy and
the winds are blowing like the mill-tails of hell.
In my business I get to fish just about as much as I want.
I also get to fish with just about any make of fly rod
available on the market today. None of the numerous rods
I've owned over the past 25 years, however, have impressed
me as much as Don Andersen's hand-crafted split-cane fly
rods. Don's rods not only have the power and finesse needed
to fish effectively, but because they are made of cane
they have the warmth and tradition of bamboo which simply
isn't available at any price in graphite rods.
Barry Mitchell, publisher of Barry Mitchell's Alberta
Some people have asked me whether I'm worried about breaking
my cane rod by fishing it too hard or catching fish that are too
big. My answer is a resounding "No!". But let me qualify
I have one of Don Andersen's 7' 9"
5 weight rods. With it I have landed the biggest fish I have
ever caught, a 26" 6 pound rainbow trout that I successfully kept
out of the thick weeds on a spring pond. A picture is worth a
thousand words, so here is the fish:
There is no magic in cane rods that makes them better, but the
cane power fibres are meant to bend and absorb stresses.
And they this much better than stiff graphite rods. On the
same day I dragged another large rainbow out of the weeds. By
pressure on the fish I was able to get it back
up to the surface.
This is not to say that I never break off fish. I
have broken off several large fish, but it was my tippet that broke
because I tried to horse the fish. I have been fishing
with some people who play the fish for too long because
they are afraid of stressing their graphite rods. I believe in
"putting the wood" to the fish, playing it hard and landing it
quickly so I can release it sooner and go on to another fish.
I don't have any fears that I will break my cane rod by
fishing it too hard. There is no need to "baby" a good cane rod.
Don has his own destructive testing program
When asked if I'm afraid that I will break my cane rod, I say
"No, I know the guy who builds them."