In search of Bamboo: Agua Fria Alchemy

I did not need much of an excuse to go over and visit with Mike Johnson of Agua Fria Alchemy, but he was kind enough to give me a reason when he picked up one of my shirts (thanks Mike). Truth be told, I have had my eye on his bamboo fly rods that he crafts in “ye old rod shop” for some time now. So after work, I headed over a little early to hit the ponds out back of his house with a new 5 weight TFO rod with the hopes of harassing a few carp and killing some time.

Beginner's luck...

This small carp came out to play after I spotted him right off in the shallows. First cast, he could not resist the green simi-seal bugger and he started to take a little line. I had a hand on him when I realized I did not have my net (it’s on the bottom of some remote Rim creek) and at the last second before I had a firm grasp on his tail, he gave a quick kick and stole my fly as a souvenir.

Fishing the 3wt
Fishing the 3 weight

I met up with Mike shortly after that and he let me take the 3 weight for a stroll. Casting a 6 foot bamboo rod was unlike anything I have picked up before. After a few minutes at the helm and getting the stroke right, the line started to straighten out and move a little farther.

Bluegill on Bamboo
Bluegill on Bamboo

Several of these spunky little fish came out of the dark stuff to feast on the mini-hopper and as the sun started to set we headed back to Mike’s house. We sat in the backyard looking at the water and talked about Arizona small streams. We talked bamboo for a good while too, but ultimately it didn’t make much difference. I was already sold on bamboo when we were back on the pond. The trick is going to be to sell the wife on the fact that I need another fly rod. I have my work cut out for me…

Bluegill and Mini
Thanks Mike for a good time on the water. Look forward to holding some bamboo again soon.

12 Responses to “In search of Bamboo: Agua Fria Alchemy”

  1. Tony Tenda

    I have an Orvis Battenkill 7 1/2′ 6 wt. Tell Michelle that’s reason enough!!

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Tony. I appreciate the support. Glad you found my site. This obsession is all thanks to you. Do you get to fish your Battenkill much?

      Ben

      Reply
      • Tony Tenda

        OK, I’ take the credit,(blame). I break out the bamboo once or twice a year on the West Branch, but my go to rod is my Orvis Power Matrix 3wt. It can get breezy in the notch by Whiteface, and the Matrix has got enough spine for that, and have the sensitivity of a 3 wt. Wish the flood waters would subside, it’s killing me not being out there. One more week, I think.

        Reply
        • azwanderings

          Tony, definitely your fault. I hear you on the 3 weight. My go-to is a 3 weight TFO Finesse. Not nearly as much spine as the power matrix, but it sure can lay a soft fly on a small creek. Bamboo is something that I have always drooled over and I think I’m going to pull the trigger on it. Life is too short…

          Reply
          • Tony Tenda

            You guys coming to the Adirondacks this summer? I’d love to show you some “private spots” on the Ausable that never get any pressure. And the fly fishing there is unbelievable.

          • azwanderings

            Yeah we will be there. Might only be in town a week so we’ll have to plan something. Would love to try those secluded areas. Talk to you soon.

            Ben

  2. David G

    I had no idea piercings/body jewelery were so popular among the carp community. Pretty neat to know that you are holding 200 years of history in an age that changes iPhones every 6 months. Hope you are able to keep the tradition alive.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Ha. I know. I need a new net so I can stop giving all my flies to those fish. There is something nostalgic about the bamboo. Very fun to cast. We’ll see what the future holds.

      Ben

      Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Sarah. Sounds like this is something us boys would have figured out by now. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m going to need all the luck I can get.

      Ben

      Reply
  3. mr blur

    heh.
    I feel like steve martin in “the jerk…”

    ‘the new phone books are here! the new phone books!’

    it’s always nice to see yer name. thanks for that.

    buying selecting a taper and building a rod are all exercises in patience.
    yer patience is rewarded smartly in the end.

    when you do bite the bullet you’ll find there are things you can do w/ a sort light bamboo rods on smallstreams that you just can’t accomplish otherwise. it’s almost magic.

    you liked that driggs. first rod I ever built was a driggs. under the fine tutelage of mike shay. 7′ 2″ 4/5wt. fish it anywhere in az. you’ll love it. yer welcome to use it for the coming season. take care of it. don’t do anything stupid with it.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Mike. I may take you up on your offer. Would love to spend some quality time on the small streams with bamboo. With any luck I should have some green scraped together by the end of the summer, but trying a couple different weights and tapers is smart. Thanks again.

      Ben

      Reply

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