I very much appreciate the topic. I think a fellow should buy the rod of his dreams. Luxurious spending is not something to be criticized. If a fellow has the thousand dollar rod, I say more power to him.
I cannot afford a rod in the $500.00 + range.
I don't really know if their performance is so much the better.
I won't criticize an expensive rig though. If I had a lot of money I'd have the best.
One casting instructor who worked with me, a friendly old fellow from the Federation of Fly Fishermen, told me the finest casting rod he ever had was a discounted model from Wal-Mart going for $10.00. Really, that's just what he said. Now, I don't think he meant that it was as fine a rod as a Winston, Sage, or what-have-you; but it was clear that the rod was a very capable rod for casting his flies where he wanted it.
I think the issue of fact comes down to the material.
How much better is the Graphite in one Rod make, than the Graphite in another?
How much better the Bamboo? How much better the Fiberglass?
This may sound redundant, but since yours truly was nothing but the local "idiot" fisherman, I didn't know something distingushed quality until I began noticing Rod Guides, and how all the cheap rods had guides that bent and twisted with a little thumb pressure.
I noticed the other day, on the Fenwick Rod I got for ...I dunno, I think $50.00 on e-bay (as a back-up---just--in-case--rod) that the handle feels like it is attached to the lower part of the blank with the manufacturer's equivalent of Spit---&---Scotch Tape. So...the blank might be great, but the Handle and Butt are just #)^A@@**&^ or something like that.
So I do appreciate things that make a better rod that will last. Solid Handle & Butt, a good Blank.
What is the Best Blank in terms of State of the Art, anyway.
I honestly don't know. IM-10?
There's a lot I don't know.
When I see people bandy about brand names like Sage though, I have a certain admiration for them. It's undoubtedly a better rod than I use and I respect fly fishermen who know their stuff.