“a beautifully crafted film that perfectly reflects the film's subject, the...bamboo fly rod."
— Ruby Masters
For many anglers, a fly rod is more than a fishing instrument.
It's an antenna, capturing signals of the natural world. But what about the process that turns ordinary materials into extraordinary tools? And why do people continue to spend their days happily wading in rivers if they do not keep what they capture?
Unveiling the magic of international camaraderie, fine craftsmanship, and majestic rivers, Trout Grass tracks the 10,000-mile journey of bamboo around the world. From a lush forest in China's Guangdong Province to a rustic workshop in Montana, the film documents the transformation of a tenacious grass into a finished fly rod. A renowned rod maker treks to the source of his inspiration. A craftsman encounters "spirits of the bamboo world." And audiences learn the process of converting a piece of cane into a six-sided baton, ready to conduct an orchestra of trout and water.
Trout Grass highlights Hoagy B. Carmichael on his first visit to China, where he experiences the country's mystical bamboo forests. As a legendary split-cane fly rod craftsman and author of the art's seminal study (A Masters Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod, with Everett Garrison), these far-off lands have fueled Hoagy's dreams for over 40 years.
While in China we follow the hands of a bamboo importer who travels to a remote Chinese village, individually sorting through thousands of bamboo poles. He is looking for poles perfectly suited to bamboo rod makers around the world.
In Montana, we see master builder Glenn Brackett tap into "the power of unseen hands" in his shop. The result is an instrument so revered for its strength, precision, and beauty one wonders if trout feel lucky when caught and released by one of Glenn's rods.
From the hands of a builder to the hands of anglers, narrator David James Duncan (The River Why) and fly fishing legend Thomas McGuane (The Longest Silence) reveal the magic of fishing with a fly rod made of grass and connecting with the order of rivers and flowing things.