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February 7, 2010

Robert Stroh - a "Bamboo Guru"

Some years ago I was fishing in Austria, in the beautiful valley of Innervillgraten. When I arrived to the river I noticed an elderly man fishing in the crystal clear pool. His casting was excellent and very, very elegant. That kind of casting technique doesn't come over night, it had without doubt, taken years to develop these casting skills.
I just had to sit down and watch him for a while, deeply fascinated by his casting, I noticed a big brown trout further upstream, feeding on drifting mayflies underneath some trees, a very difficult catch indeed. It demanded an extremely precise cast. And in these clear water conditions you only had one maybe two casts, before you would spook the fish, so it was an absolutely difficult catch.
I knew I couldn't make this cast, my casting skills were not at that level, at that time, so I went down to the old man and told him about the big brown a little further upstream, from where he was fishing. He smiled and said "well, this is the first time ever that another fisherman has offered me an opportunity to fish, on a fish he has spotted!!" - I simply had to se him make this very difficult cast :O)
We walked closer to the feeding brownie, and slowly he got in position, calculating every little detail before he even began to loosen the fly from his rod.
And then it happened, like in slow-motion, he made one perfect placed cast, and the fly landed 1-2 meters upstream from where the brown trout were feeding. It drifted slowly in a perfect angle towards the fish - and BANG!!! - that's how it's done, as simple as that!!!
The brownie weighed around 2 kg. -  it had a very beautiful red spotted pattern and was fat like barrel - he landed it gently, a quick photo and gave it it's freedom - everything was just perfect and by the book.

After this demonstration of sublime casting, I praised his technique highly, but the old man was very humble about it all, and he just replied that it was the rod that made the whole difference - it was his "Magic Stick", as he called it :O)
Then he very generously offered me to try it, I took his offer, and began fishing with his custom made splitcane rod - a #5 - 7 ft long rod build in Germany - and he he was absolutely right it was a "Magic Stick". 
This amazing rod had a softness, and yet a stiffness perfected balanced in it's spine, witch made it absolutely a dream to cast with. I got very curious and started to ask a ton of questions about this rod, but his only reply was get in contact with Robert Stroh, he is a "Bamboo Guru", and the maker of this fantastic rod - I of course wrote this name down, this had to be explored when I came back to Denmark again.
I just had to own one of these "Magic Sticks" :O)

Several months later I found that little note in one of the pockets of my fly fishing west - I had been to busy and forgotten everything about this wonderful incident. Instantly I made a Google search and found Robert Stroh's website, then I mailed Robert regarding prices, size and delivery. Few days after I got a kind mail from Mr. Stroh, and apparently there was a long waiting list, so I had to be patient - I wasn't the only one who had experienced these "magic rods".
I ordered one, a # 5 . 2,13 m long - BUT it would take 8-10 months before I had it in my hand, as they say "all good things comes to those who are patient"!!!! :O)

Time went by and I was going to Austria again the next summer, and when I told Robert about my traveling plans, his reply was - "why don't you come by and pick up the rod, then we could go fishing together, in some of my favorite waters" - I couldn't say no to such a fantastic invitation. We agreed to met and that's what happened.
Nearly a year after I ordered the rod, we met up by a small hotel in Germany. I had my daughter with me, and Robert had his son with him - perfect!!. We had a delicious lunch, and then off to the river Robert knew. My daughter - Marie - by the way, shot all the photos from this trip, witch were great for all of us, because then we could concentrate on the fly fishing :O)
Roberts son - Valentine - a great little fly fisherman, caught several nice fish, and seeing those two fishing together was a pure pleasure :O)

Big smiles :O)
The catch!!!!
Bigger smiles!!! :O)

Robert took us to an amazing place, with nice an clear pools and lot's of fish all over - what a treat, what an experience - to buy a rod, and then suddenly we were fishing in a private river surrounded by the most beautiful quiet nature, in a river full of graylings and trouts - this experience were more positive than I ever had expected it would be - but what were even more important - the rod Robert had made to me, were perfectly balanced and "full of magic". I loved it from the first moment, and I still do!!.
Besides all these fabulous events, an even better thing happened - we became really good friends, and I can honestly say that I am very happy I meet that old man in Austria the year before, who introduced me to his "Magic Stick" - because if it hadn't been for his extremely precise casting skills - I probably never would have meet Robert and his great family. Sometimes life treats you very nice :O).

When it comes to the rod building, Robert was so kind to show us his home, and his secret little workshop where all the magic appears - and it was very interesting to listen to all the details, seeing all the amazing designs, but most of all to explore the soul behind it all, the great pice of personal engagement behind every rod - as Robert expressed it "every time I sell a rod, it's like a little pice of my soul is sold with it" - and after seeing how much work there is behind a building split cane rod, I know exactly what Robert means by this statement. 
Robert even goes to China, so he personally can inspect and cut every bamboo by hand him self - quality is essential and not to be compromised!!!! - this is why these rods are so great, every little detail is thought trough - "The Magic is hand made"!!! - with NO compromise!!!

Have a look at Robert Stroh's website -

(PS. all photos are shot by Marie Wengler)


  1. Split Cane getz to you :-)

  2. Hi pool 32
    Another great reading, and nice pix.