Re: So what is it that makes one rod better than the next?
I want a rod that can cast close with the tip and yet has "reserve power" to cast up a line size. Even if the action and power are equal, they can be unequal in many other important ways such a overall weight and how that weight is distributed along the fly rod.
I look for a low overall weight and a rod that is tip light so the "swing" weight is minimized.
I want vibration damping but not so much that it feels dead in the hand. Feedback without excessive vibration or damping is important because you want to be able to feel the "ticks" as the fly bounces along the bottom.
A fly rod does not just flex back and forth. It also can twists during the cast. I want a fly rod that is torsionally rigid that resists twisting. If you want to curve the cast by a placing a hook in the rod tip path, you don't want the fly rod to absorb that hook by twisting.
A fly rod must also be able to resist impact damage and delamination. Fly rods can have identical action and power but resistance to impact and breakage can differ. So the best materials and resins are needed with the best manufacturing technology. Materials rolled under higher pressures generally make for more durable rods.
So give me a light fly rod with low swing weight that is sensitive and yet durable, resists twisting, has a great warranty at a low price and I'll be happy as a pig in mud.
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy