Two nights ago a bug crawled into my ear and began to chant, “Banty, banty, banty…” Since then I can’t shake the idea of turning my next bamboo rod project into a chopped job, a “banty” if you will.
Bantam rods were the name given to shorter, lighter bamboo rods in comparison to the heavy nine-footers that were a glut to the market through the 1950s. There are other names out there– flea, midge– that refer to specific lengths or weights of bamboo rods, but the term “banty” has been co-opted to describe the process of modifying one of those heavy nine foot rods to mimic the look of the short six- to seven-and-a-half foot bantams/fleas/midges. It’s analogous to “chopping” an old, un-cool Mercury into something infinitely more pleasing to look at.
The actual performance advantages seem dubious, at best. Some amateur “banty” makers claim that chopping the rod makes it more responsive and capable of throwing lighter line– reducing the weight of the rod from a 6/7 to a 3/4, a considerable improvement more suited to modern trout fishing– while others claim it does little more than change the action of the rod, sometimes for the worse.
So why bother? One, I’m near completion on my second nine-footer beast rod (featured photo, above), and don’t need a third nine-footer; and two, right now I’m kinda enamored with the idea of a short bamboo rod for little brookie streams. I also have the perfect candidate, a Pioneer bamboo rod (probably made by Horrocks Ibbotson at some point) with a curious rainbow re-wrap.
I was curious to see how this rod might actually feel if it were a seven footer, so I grabbed a few reels with various line weights and taped them about two feet up from the reel seat (just below the first female ferrule) and gave it a toss. This rod is like a wet noodle, for sure. The tip section is really soft and “wiggly”, such that I feel it really dampened the rod’s ability to throw line, but it does a passable job up to twenty feet or so. It’s a so-so rod for a 5 wt. line– like, you could make it work IF you wanted to– but, much like its nine-foot variant, it’s probably better suited for a 6/7 wt. line.
My only concern is the soft tip and the first ferrule, which combined create a serious “dead zone” along the upper third of the rod that creates a pronounced hinge.
However, after thinking on it a while this MAY be an advantage. A more parabolic action rod would offer less stiffness in the new butt section of rod, which would require some reinforcing to make it fishable. Since the mid section here is so stiff I think it could end up as a nice seven foot 6 weight, casting issues aside. We’ll see!