I'm no more crazy than George Anderson is dishonest. Being a former retailer, it's no surprise to me when people question the motives of business owners. What is surprising is that Anderson gets trashed by folks for making an effort such as this, and is dismissed as being: self-serving; too lazy to try each rod with every line on the market; biased toward fast/stiff rods; etc. I'm lucky to even get a nod from some of the employees at local fly shops, and here's George Anderson going out of his way to provide information on a number of rods from several manufacturers. He does offer most of these rods at his shop, but tells people to go to their local fly shops. In the first 5wt shootout, Anderson noted that the Winston BIIX was his best selling rod that year, yet he still pointed out what he saw as a number of flaws in the rod's design and performance. The members of the Winston forum were ready to tar and feather Anderson for those comments, but praised his assessment of the BIIIX last year.
People have reacted to Anderson's shootouts according to the rods they currently own, or are thinking about buying. If you own one of the rods reviewed, and it doesn't fare well, Anderson is biased. If your rod does well, you made a smart purchase. Finally, there are those people who are looking for a new rod, and find the shootouts useful. Anderson didn't just get into fly fishing last week, and he's a very well respected figure in the industry. I suppose I could ask the kid at Bass Pro Shop which rod he'd suggest for my bonefish trip, but that's not likely to happen.
"Clever Marketing" is something that Anderson himself addresses in these shootouts, and he says he's
trying to look beyond the hype. Sage refers to their Generation 5 material as a "Miracle"!
I don't see any evidence that Anderson is going beyond standard business practice with his shootouts, and trashing his best selling rod is one example that he might be doing just the opposite. James Anderson commented on the Winston Passport in the latest 5wt shootout, and said that he's going to have a tough time telling a customer to spend $550 more for a rod that doesn't perform much better. If they wanted to cash in on these shootouts, they'd behave more like my local fly shop: Tell people that you need to use 6 or 7x tippet to catch
the educated trout nearby, and that means you need to buy a Lamson Lightspeed reel (no start-up inertia), and a Winston BIIX (soft tip) to protect the tippets. They do not put price tags on rods and reels, saying that doing so is an effront to the dignity of the product!!! I'M 100% NOT KIDDING! You have to ask for the price of every rod and reel in the store, and that answer includes a song and dance about the virtues of each product. There's no way in he!! that they'd rate a TFO rod #3 from the top, and wouldn't even discuss a rod from that company.
Anderson is a business owner. Anderson offers comparisons of various rods from several manufacturers. Anderson tells people to go to their local fly shop to test the rods for themselves, as everyone has different needs. Anderson might
sell a few extra rods from the publicity generated by these shootouts. He certainly didn't score any points with Winston owners, and that seems more like honesty than clever marketing.
Do you think Anderson's evaluation of the BIIX might have caused Winston to redesign the rod into the BIIIX? Have you read the response on the Winston forum to the new BIIIX? The same people that cursed Anderson are now
praising the BIIIX, and are now
saying that the BIIX did have the exact weaknesses that Anderson outlined (while not citing Anderson).
Compare the Yellowstone Anglers Shootouts with the nonsense that most magazines publish (mostly text taken right from manufacturers), and I'll take Anderson's (et al) comments every time.