"Beautifully filmed...with some absolutely breathtaking shots..."
— Martin Joergensen
"A beautifully lensed documentary... we follow the "fly rod made of grass to Montana where (David) Duncan and Thomas McGuane fish and muse on the interconnectedness of nature. An informative and entertaining documentary, Trout Grass is highly recommended. EDITORS CHOICE."
I was reminded of the understated elegance of "A River Runs Through It" when I saw this documentary written and narrated by David James Duncan ("The River Why"). Here, Duncan traces how bamboo becomes a fishing rod, from the grass' amazing growth cycle in Southern China (3 feet per night during peak season) to how a 3-ounce split-cane fly rod takes shape in the hands of master craftsmen. If it sounds like the stuff of a public-TV yawner, guess again: Duncan wastes nary a word as he tackles his subject with a poet's passion and reporter's zeal. Filmed on location in China and Montana and featuring fly-fishing legend Thomas McGuane.
— Louis R. Carlozo
Among the favorites at the festival even though it did not garnish an award was "Trout Grass," a beautifully crafted film that perfectly reflects the film's subject, the craftsmanship of making a bamboo fly rod. The most lyrical of the films I saw at the festival, "Trout Grass" starts with the harvest of bamboo in China and follows its transition from a living plant to a finished fly rod in the hands of master rod maker Glenn Brackett in Montana. Written and narrated by David James Duncan and featuring Tom McGuane and Hoagy Carmichael, "Trout Grass" brings the passion of flyfishing lovingly to the screen."
— Ruby Masters
… It would have been easy enough to put this film into a small pigeonhole labeled “For Fly Fishers Only”... But this narrow path reveals wide vistas. Farmers at harvest laughing at the gossip of their small community. Merchants and laborers cleaning, sorting, grading the crop that sustains them. Craftsmen, focused and precise, measuring their work in thousandths of an inch while speaking of an unseen guidance. These images and many others in the film are universal and reach well beyond the boundaries of flyfishing.
Ed George’s camera work captures the stunning scenery along the Sui River in China, and on Montana trout streams with painterly precision. He also reveals intimate portraits of people and the work that sustains them. David Duncan’s narration is as lyrical as the sound of water laughing over stones and as precise as the taper of a fine rod. Glenn Brackett, Tom McGuane, and rod maker Hoagy Carmichael all communicate their understanding and love for the craft and the sport that centers around a plant as strong as steel and as enduring as the truths it reveals.
— George Grant
…Beautifully filmed by Ed George and with some absolutely breathtaking shots from both China and the US - outdoors as well as indoors - this film succeeds extremely well in facilitating the fascination of bamboo and the rods made from it.
Camera work and editing is calmly paced and soothing, and the narration is both well written and spoken. The music manages to carry both the eastern ambience as well as some good ole country and western mood, and as a whole I will consider this one of the best films on fishing related subjects I have ever seen. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.
— Martin Joergensen