Go old-school with this handmade bamboo fishing pole

A truly organic fish stick.
a person holding a small fish while standing on a dock on a lake
You don't need a fancy rod to catch a few fish at the lake. Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

This story was originally featured on Field & Stream.

You could use one of those fancy side-scan sonar depthfinders with the new underwater fish-eye orthographic readouts. Or you could go cut a switch of bamboo and do a little cane-pole fishing. If you choose the latter, a decent cane pole is as close as the nearest stand of bamboo. Everyday ordinary, backyard bamboo works just fine for panfish, bass, and small catfish.

Make a cane pole our way, with the line anchored to the pole along its entire length, and you’ll be able to land anything that doesn’t pull you into the pond first. So there. Drop your line right beside that tree stump. Sit on a bucket. Doesn’t that mud feel squishy between your toes? Hey, where’s your bobber?

1. Cut your cane

Cut a straight piece of cane about 10 feet long. Trim the leaf stems as close as possible. Saw through the fat end at the bottom of a joint so the butt end will have a closed cap. Smooth the rough edges with sandpaper.

2. Dry your cane pole

Tie a string to the slender tip and suspend the cane as it dries to a tan color. (This could take several weeks.) Straighten out a curved pole by weighting it with a brick.

3. Rig your line

With an arbor knot, attach 20-pound Dacron line a few inches above the place where you’ll hold the rod. Lay the line along the length of the pole and whip-finish the running line to the rod with old fly line at two spots in the middle of the rod—a few feet apart—and at the tip. (If the rod tip breaks, the line will remain attached to the pole.) Attach a 2-foot monofilament leader. Total length of the line from the tip of the rod should be about 14 to 16 feet. Finish with a slip bobber, split shot, and a long-shank Aberdeen hook for easy removal.

Video: How to rig a cane pole

Cane-pole fishing is hardly a lazy pursuit, with all the fish-catching that typically accompanies an outing with the bamboo and bait. And, it’s not just for pan-sized fish, either. There are as many ways to rig a cane pole as there are to skin the catfish you catch with one, but this line-wrapping technique will keep the line attached to the slender pole if Mr. Whiskers breaks the whippy tip.