Alumni Advice Corner

  • "Build it. enjoy it. Fish the hell out of it!"

    -Ted S.

  • "Pour at least one beer before noon."

  • "Come ready to work hard. The results will be worth it."

  • "There is method to the madness, and regardless of what you are thinking on Tuesday, your rod will be beautiful on Saturday."

    -Bill S.

  • "If you are thinking about a special reel seat for your rod, do it! You're making a family heirloom. Bill is an incredible artist! You won't be sorry."

    -Jane B.

  • "The opportunity to create an object worthy of being passed down for generations, literally hundreds of years, to be held and tested on a favorite stream by a great granddaughter or grandson. I think I'll make the most of that opportunity to create a memory. Something that never depreciates but lies in its case until the next opportunity to deliver dreams."

"Don't be afraid to use your new bamboo rod. It is tougher than you think and will take a beating. Mine are on track to outlast me."

"Just go ahead and sign up for the next class, I knew before lunch the first day, I was going to do this again and again. It's just a good time!"

"The best parts of the experience for me: fellowship and focusing on the craft. The first is on you, the second on Oyster; and they've got it. The team will guide you through each step with care. It's a powerful experience to use time-honored techniques to craft your fly rod. Enjoy each part."

  • "Relax and enjoy the class. Bill and Riley look over your shoulder almost constantly. They watch students so intently; it is difficult to make a mistake. The class is that good. Even if you have never built anything, the Oyster fly rod you will build in the class is the best rod you will ever cast. When you cast your new fly rod, relax and slow down a bit. My Oyster Bamboo fly rod shoots line effortlessly. Have fun, it's a great class, well worth the cost."

    -John O.

  • "Don't be intimidated by the process, and don't hesitate to ask for help, especially when you feel under pressure to get a task completed. I have built 3 bamboo rods and one of the best things is the camaraderie that can develop between the students. Likely there will be some repeaters in your class. They can be a source of guidance, inspiration, or solace."

    -Don H.

  • "Relax, believe in the process, have fun, and have a beer at lunch."

  • "Listen to the instructors. Do it the way they tell you to. There is a reason they are instructors, and you are the student. Leave your ego outside the classroom."

  • "Patience, patience, listen, and leather work gloves."

  • "Don't do it! It's a trap! Just like any "gateway drug" I was only going to try it once...have my third class on the schedule...Have fun. With the level of instruction, it's not as hard as it looks."

  • "Let yourself be creative. Trust the process. Bill and Riley will guide you. They're the training wheels of this bike. They won't let you fall."

  • "My simple advice is this: trust the staff and don't be afraid to ask for help - they will make sure that you are successful."

    -Greg B.

  • "Listen and follow Bill's instruction exactly. Don't try to short cut anything. No matter your skill level, if you do exactly what he shows you, the finished product will be a masterpiece."

  • "The guys have done this thousands of times. If they recommend a way to do something, that is without a doubt, the easiest and best way to do it."

  • "The entire experience was incredible! I surprised myself with what I accomplished. Cheers to the Oyster crew!"

    -Brent C.

  • "Use the time given for detail and perfection! It's not a rod building race. Have a question on anything, ask it, the team are great teachers."

  • "I DID IT!!! WOW!!! An amazing process taught by talented craftsmen that when complete will leave you speechless. Enjoy...FYI, bring home leftover pieces for show and tell."

    -Reed B.

  • "I can't say enough about my time in class. What I can say is, it goes fast, enjoy every minute. The best part is the people. Bill, Riley, Shannen and all the classmates from around the country. Oh yeah, the rod...incredible."
    -Tim B.
  • "Don't be afraid to ask questions. Even if you think they might be considered stupid. I have attended the class four times in the last ten years, and I still ask stupid questions."

    -Dan R.

  • "I came with some experience building rods but learned better, faster methods of building bamboo rods. Bill is the master, and it is a privilege to learn and glean from him. You will not regret it at all."

    -George L.

"When Pepper walks by, stop whatever you are doing and pet the dog! The rod and beer will still be right where you left it!"

"When I took my first class, I was honestly a bit concerned I wouldn't be able to keep up with the others. It was really the first time I did anything close to that. When the class started, and Bill and Riley just gave me (and everyone else) a sense not to worry! After the first couple of days, I stopped feeling incapable of having more fun than I had in a long time. The addition of the TV's helped a lot and the video of wrapping was a huge benefit. I always say this is the best week of the year for me and that hasn't changed. If anything, it has gotten better. Bottom line, have fun because it truly is the ultimate experience."

"Enjoy the experience, not just the build. Forget about your troubles and just have a good time. You are about to make a family heirloom and you'll show people, and they won't believe you made it. Take your time and follow instructions to a T. Bill and his team have made a rod or two."

"Be afraid - be very afraid! Not really! But you will be no matter what we say. It's intimidating, but it is supposed to be just like anything else you do for the first time. Even with that said, you should know a few things:

-Don't ask questions until Bill has completed giving instructions. He only tells you what you need to know RIGHT NOW. Don't be thinking ahead.

-Bill and Riley are there to help you, so ask as you go

-Beer is in the back for a reason

-Friday requires another type of mindset. Don't freak out. You'll be ok. Just take a deep breath and keep winding.

Finally, Bill WILL NOT let you leave on Saturday with an ugly fly rod. Trust me, I know!!"

  • "Relax. Do not stress. Enjoy and savor the week, moment by moment. The result is a beautiful bamboo fly rod, new friends, and a refreshed soul"

  • "Don't overthink the process. Bill has it down to a science. You are in great hands."

  • "The entire Oyster team will be your best friend by the end of the week. Never hesitate to ask for help."

  • "Listen closely to instructions. Follow every step that is provided, and you will leave with a beautiful fly rod that you will use and enjoy."


  • "Do not go with long fingernails! It makes some of the tasks much harder."

  • "Be patient, you are learning a new skill, then get another beer!"

    -Jerry F.

"Despite the hundreds of ways Bill and Riley will tell you that you can screw up your rod, rest assured that they will do everything humanly possible to see you out the door with not just any old fly rod, but with an heirloom. Relax, drink a beer, and enjoy the class. It will be one of the best experiences of your life."


"Get to class right on time. Class starts with energy right after the doors open. Don't bother to arrive early, the doors will be locked. Stay as close to the shop as possible."


"The typical American may save forever to take one trip abroad. To have a quality life one should budget for at least one major international trip a year. Just as with travel, one should make the effort to make a lot of bamboo rods, in multiple Oyster rod making classes. I am proud of the dozen rods from my twelve classes to date and look forward to my scheduled 13th and 14th classes. Thank you, Oyster team."

  • "Things you might think that ARE NOT true: You don't have skill. There is no way we will get this completed in time. I will never use the rod. It won't be an awesome experience."
  • "Don't be afraid to use what you have made. It's a beautiful work of art...and it catches fish!"

    -Kirk C.

  • "Dream big and build it! You get one chance with the current rod you are building. Pay attention to the smallest detail."

  • "Oh yeah, sign up for a second class as soon as possible. Have fun!"

  • "There is beauty and humility in imperfection."

    -Guillermo T.

  • "Be prepared for some hands-on work. Listen well to instructions and be patient. You will leave there with a true heirloom."

    -Andy B.

  • "Much of the beauty in your rod is in its creation. Enjoy your classmates."

    -George G.

  • "The whole experience was relaxing and fun. Enjoy. Pay particular attention when using the plane. Oh, Bill and the gang are right there if you need help."
    -Gordon L.
  • "Slow down, be careful, and pay attention to detail and you will be successful. The folks at Oyster will teach and give all the help needed."

  • "Don't hesitate to ask for help if you're not sure about a step or procedure, the team is happy to help. Your bamboo rod will be a work of art to be admired for years to come."

    -Greg M.

  • "No matter how bad the mistake you make, Bill and Riley have seen it before, anticipate it and have them come to the rescue. I speak from experience"

"It is all about the journey, not the destination. Take time and get to know your classmates; they become friends for life; the rod will come in the end. Take a deep breath, follow instructions, measure three times, cut once and ask for help. There are no dumb questions, just a lot of lost time and effort if you don't.

The bamboo will talk to you, take time to listen.

Most of all, have fun; that's why you signed up for this."

-Adam B.

"Pay attention at all times! Very little of what is said during the class is unworthy of your attention. The more you pay attention and follow the instructions given, the higher quality the final product will be.

DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR ASSISTANCE! That is what Bill, and his staff are there for. When you get to that "brick wall" of frustration and loss of hope, they can offer that little gem of technique that will get you back on the straight and narrow.

The first fish you catch on your new, personally made bamboo rod, you will begin to understand why you took this path in life. It truly is an ethereal moment..."

-Jerry A.

"The Oyster crew has perfected the process. Kassie has the business side mastered. Hold your questions, Bill is going to tell you. If you can draw it, Paxton can engrave it. Riley has your back, always. Get the dust off at the end. Get a room upstairs. It's ok to get a delicious beer at 10:30 AM."

-Warren P.

"It took Bill six months to build his first rod. Over decades, the process you will experience has been refined by Bill and Riley to the extraordinary regimen you will follow to produce something you will be proud of. No one in the country equals the skill and teaching process of Oyster Bamboo. Every rod that goes out the door of their classroom reflects on them. They will see to it that you succeed."

-Bill M.

"Relax. you will make a beautiful bamboo rod that you will love. Take a deep breath, don't rush, drink a beer, have fun. It will be one of the best weeks of your life."

-Steve K.

"Be patient, listen carefully, and if you are not a detail person, you will be after this class!"

-Chris B.

"You will come away with a beautiful bamboo rod, no question about it. Bill and Riley will guide you expertly through the process. Above all enjoy the week's journey."

-Dennis P.

  • "Follow Shannen's advice just like Bill did when he asked her if he could purchase his first fly rod. Shannen replied, "just build one." There are few activities more rewarding than building and catching fish on a bamboo fly rod crafted by your own hands. So just build one or maybe ten or twenty. Bill went on to build thousands."

  • "Go for it! Be bold if it is your desire, don't play it safe. This piece is art and science so let Bill worry about the science (follow his instructions perfectly) while you make it YOURS.

    On that note, spend some time in advance of your class thinking about the details. For engraving, I wish I would have brought a written personal reminder from my grandfather that means so much to me, especially on the water. It looks like I'll have to come build another. "

  • "No matter how much you think you know, you don't know more about building fly rods than they do. You can be a professional jeweler, hand engraver, wood turner, or a knife maker and I'm sure you are great at what you do. The best thing you can do is listen and let them guide you through this amazing journey. I promise you; it will be the experience of a lifetime."

  • "If you like to fish and make things that mean something to you, don't hesitate. I know many women would be intimidated by the mostly male students but holding your very own handmade fly rod that you can use and pass down is worth getting over your fears. My classmates and teachers were unbelievable. I tell everyone it was one of the most rewarding weeks I've ever spent!"

  • "You know more than you think. Take Tylenol for pain."

  • "Listen carefully, pay attention to body position, order of instructions, and most important listen to Bill with humble acknowledgement of his expertise."
    -Mike L.
  • "Don't feel rushed, take your time and have patience. Bill and Riley are there to help you for nearly as long as you need each day. If you start to feel anxious, have a beer."

  • "Be careful, very careful when you plane the tip section."

    -George Y.

  • "If you plan to continue making rods on your own, take notes. You'll remember a lot but forget more and your notes will help fill in those blanks. Don't quite understand something? Ask! Bill is extremely patient and more willing to take the time to make sure you get it."
    -Cliff N.
  • "There will be moments when you will doubt your ability to build a fly rod. Don't question your ability. When Saturday comes and your rod is presented to you, you will be so proud of your accomplishment that those moments of doubt will vanish."
    -Dan J.
  • "Enjoy the experience and never be afraid to ask for help. Rest assured that in the end you'll have a keepsake rod and it will always make you proud."
    -Terry B.

"I was the person in my class who had a lot of questions, struggled at times, and fell behind, ended up with a glorious, self-made bamboo fly rod as beautiful as all the other made during the week. You can do the same."

"Every detail provided by Bill and the staff has been perfected over thousands of rods. There is a reason he tells you to follow exactly his instructions. Please know there is NOT a better way. Follow his lead precisely!"

-Bill W.

"Wait until after the demo to ask any questions as most will be answered during the demo. Have no fear that your end result will not be spectacular, it will be!"

"Stay upstairs above the shop! You will make friends for life because you have something in common.

Go to the Polish restaurant in town.

No matter your skill level you will get through it if you follow the instructor's game-plan. Trust the process and enjoy every step. It's a bucket list experience."

"No judgements or criticisms of your work...just solid friendly professionals exchanging their complete know-how of what works best to complete a work of art that you call your own. Enjoy the background music, beer, and the class comradery in and out of the shop."

-Mike C.

"You are building a legacy. go slow and try for perfection. The instructions are great, ask questions. This is the best experience you may ever have."

-Curt W.

  • "Trust the process. Your bamboo rod may be unique to you, but the process was proven among thousands of rods before you arrived."

  • "It's not about how often you get knocked down or how slow or fast you get back up, it's the enthusiasm."

  • "The class was memorable. I wish now that I had the extra fly rod tip section made as a backup."

  • "Always listen carefully and do what the Oyster crew tells you; they really have the process down. I've taken the course 4 times over 15 years and it has really helped me refine my at-home bamboo rod hobby."

  • "Don't doubt yourself! not only will you leave with a beautiful bamboo fly rod, but you will also enjoy yourself and meet new friends."

    -David D.

  • "Only a couple of decisions to be prepared for. The result will be a beautiful fly rod, which is probably more the result of masterful teaching skills than individual craftsmanship. So be prepared to listen!"

  • "I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to build a rough cedar birdhouse let alone craft a fine bamboo fly rod, but I needed distraction from work. Not only was the time focused on building the rod a total distraction, but my split cane rod is the proudest thing I own thanks to Bill's patient hands and guidance. Enjoy every hour, you are lucky to spend it with him."

  • "Measure twice, cut once. Never get in a hurry, as with each passing day, the mistakes are amplified. When in doubt, stop and ask. Bill and Riley will get you through if you listen, trust the process, and don't try to shortcut it. Don't try to overthink their 25 years of experience, they've seen it all."

    -Dave H.

  • "Don't be afraid of making imperfection. That's what will make this bamboo rod unique to you."

    -Nick B.

  • "Take careful notes. You may decide you want to set up your own shop and continue making rods. While I have tweaked my technique over time, my Oyster notebook assembled during class remains my essential resource."

  • "I was concerned I would mess up, but the Oyster experts are right there to help you."

    -Harmon S.

"Regardless of how you perform the steps, you will end up with an heirloom that you and your family will be proud of."


"Pay attention and follow the instructions. If you do, you will make a great bamboo fly rod."


"Enjoy the simple, yet rare, opportunity to spend significant quality time with likeminded people with a common passion. Frankly, that's the Oyster culture!"