The first fishing pole stemmed from simple logic. Fishing with a hand line limited fishing to within a few feet of the shore of a lake or river. Tying the line to a long pole extended the reach of the fisherman and enabled him to put bait or a lure on the end to attract fish. Fishing with poles improved fishermen's success and added a measure of sport to the hobby. Some hobbyists make homemade poles for nostalgic and other reasons.
Fishermen who want to extend their reach often choose a sapling near where they are fishing, cut it and use it as a fishing pole. You can make poles with many species of trees when they are small. Willow, silver maple, aspen and other species grow in wet areas and are likely to be close at hand. These species have relatively soft wood so they are easy to cut down and whittle into an impromptu fishing pole.
In areas where bamboo grows, bamboo is often the material of choice for rudimentary fishing poles. Technically, bamboo is a grass, but when bamboo dries, it hardens into a material very close to wood. Bamboo poles are much lighter than similarly sized poles made of wood. Bamboo often grows to heights unlikely to be found in tree saplings. Bamboo is so widely used for fishing poles it’s commercially harvested, and fitted with ferrules and line ties. The poles are sold in tackle shops.
Early fishing rods were crafted from bamboo. The bamboo was split into strips, which were carefully planed to shape, and the strips were glued together. Split bamboo rods were light, strong and flexible. Production model split bamboo rods are no longer available, replaced by rods of fiberglass and other materials. Some anglers, however, still use custom made bamboo rods for the unique feel of fishing and catching with them, as well as the nostalgia. Making handmade split bamboo rods is a common hobby.
A fishing rod can be functional and stylish at the same time. That's one of the reasons building fishing rods is a hobby. Hobbyists and custom rod makers often eschew the traditional cork or EVA foam grips on the poles they produce in favor of carved and polished handles made from walnut, cherry or exotic woods such as cocobolo or mahogany.