Trout Grass. DVD for $29.99. Can be ordered online at www.troutgrass.com; video excerpts and other information available on the website. Also sold or rented in some fly shops.
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n China, doctors cut the umbilical cord with a bamboo knife. And--we hope many years later--the body may exit the world on a funeral pyre built of bamboo.
For some fly anglers, fishing also begins and ends with bamboo. As writer/narrator David James Duncan says early in this video, a cane rod is, "something to everyone, but everything to some."
For those who fish only with graphite, it's hard to understand the passion for cane fly rods. However, if you take the time to watch this entertaining and beautifully-made video, you may begin to get an inkling.
Hint: It's Not Wood
Bamboo is not, as some belief, a wood. It is a segmented grass. Hence the title of this documentary: "Trout Grass." It begins in China, where Tonkin cane is grown and harvested. Tonkin cane is unique because its long fibers always return to their original position after they've been flexed. Of over 1,200 bamboo varieties, it's the only one suited to rod building.
During this video we meet Andy Royer, a bamboo buyer for nurseries and fly rod builders in 16 countries. He goes to China and decides if a pole is "best suited for a fence or a fly rod." Hoagy Carmichael, a famous cane rod builder and son of the famous singer/song writer, meets him in China and together they go to the bamboo forest. Carmichael is clearly moved to be in the forest, and notes that he alone among the major rod crafters has walked amid the living Tonkin cane.
We follow the cane from the forest, to its harvest by village women, to market, the drying shed, selection, and shipment to the US (a rainy Seattle in this case). From Seattle the cane is loaded onto a truck and shipped to Twin Bridges, Montana, where master craftsman Glenn Brackett--then of the RL Winston Rod Company, now independent--fashions it into a rod so prized that trout should be pleased to be caught by an angler wielding it.
As Brackett's last step among 4,000 hand operations, he personalizes the rod by inking it with the name of its new owner, Thomas McGuane, the writer and novelist. In the final scenes, we see McGuane and David James Duncan fishing on a Montana stream.
Carrying the Spirit
Trout Grass is not just about the process of turning living grass into a superb trout rod. We hear from the rod builders and anglers about why they love bamboo rods. They have a near-mystical belief that each rod carries the spirit of all who had a hand in growing, harvesting, and crafting the bamboo. It's hard to imagine anyone getting that excited about graphite, but then graphite was never alive.
This video's camera work is first-rate, and Woody Simmons music is spot-on; the banjo melodies twine harmoniously with Yo Qi's traditional Asian music. David James Duncan wrote and delivers the narration in fine style.
Even if you're not part of the resurgent bamboo underground, you'll enjoy this beautifully made video.
Bottom Line: If you're into cane rods, you'll love seeing this forest-to-rod saga. Reviewer Rating: 5
5=tops 3=average 1=low
Rated as 4 by Eric Hillerns on 06/29/2008
Comments: It's virtually impossible for me to provide a perfect rating to any film, however Trout Grass is as close to perfection as I've yet seen in fly fishing movie making. David James Duncan and McGuane are two of my favorite literary figures and Brackett is rightfully granted near deity status in cane rod-making. Beautiful, informative and moving. 4++.
Rated as 5 by halcyonsancta on 03/19/2011
Comments: Seldom have I seen a film as informative and pleasant to watch as this. It's a lovely gem of boutique movie making. A must for anyone who fishes cane.
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