"A fly rod extends a fly fisher's being as surely as do imagination, empathy or prayer."
-David James Duncan
For many anglers, a fly rod is more than a fishing instrument. It's an antenna, capturing signals of the natural world. But what of the process that turns ordinary materials into extraordinary tools? And why do people around the world 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 flowing water, 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 this film follows the transition of bamboo from a living plant to a finished fly rod. As a renowned rod maker treks to the source of his inspiration and a craftsman half-way around the world feels the "spirit of the bamboo world" we find what it takes to convert a piece of grass into a six-sided baton ready to conduct an orchestra of trout and water.
This documentary highlights Hoagy 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 to individually sort through thousands of bamboo poles. He is looking for poles perfectly suited for bamboo rod makers around the world.
In Montana, we see master-builder Glenn Brackett tap into "the power of unseen hands" in his shop, while converting this hardy piece of grass into a fly rod. 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 an angler we follow narrator David James Duncan (The River Why, The Brothers K) and fly fishing legend Thomas McGuane (The Longest Silence, Ninety-two in the Shade) to one of Montana's resplendent waterways. Here, these two anglers reveal the magic of fishing with a fly rod made of grass and connecting with the order of rivers and flowing things.