I have been fly fishing for over 40 years and I just can't understand why a 700 dollar rod is better than a 150 dollar rod.
Ok.....maybe the lifetime guarantee but that costs lots of money....maybe up to 3 or 4 times the cost to replace the rod. But.....how many rods have you broken during a lifetime of fishing? I've broken 3 in about 60 years of fishing. One was an ancient hollow fiberglass spinning rod about 50 years ago, the other a 30 dollar graphite spinning rod that I had loaned to a newbie.
I know that there is a big difference between an el-cheapo rod and a decent rod and the small difference between a decent rod (about 60 dollars) and a good rod (about 130 dollars) but I just can't fathom the difference between a 150 dollar rod and a 700 dollar rod.
It sounds like you've been around this long enough to know the answer to your question already but I'll type anyway. As we both may know these days a rod with a price point around 150 dollars may work splendidly in the hands of a good caster as well as the 700 dollar rod.
When it comes to actual costs good fly rods have always been at a premium even in the sixties & seventies. Bamboo has always been high unless you went with production lines. When Orvis and Leonard introduced their low modulus graphite rods in the early seventies they commanded a princely sum for those rods.
Now here we are in the year 2013 and marketing has taken a few twists & turns in the fly rod business since the mid 80's. I believe it boils down to this, if a fella has 700 dollars to spend on a rod and is willing, then he will. To him it may well be worth it. If you or I can pick up a quality rod new or used at $150.00 it may seem well worth the price to us as well.
I don't get too caught up in rod pricing, 2 years ago last September Nancy and I were fishing the tide water in Valdez for silvers. I fished with an LL Bean Streamlight Spey rod I paid $185 for. There was a fellow up the shore line casting a Spey rod also. At the end of the day we were all walking up the beach toward the campsites and the fellow said, "What kind of rod are you using, I noticed it really reaches out there". I twisted the rod to expose the label and told him. He had a Sage Z Axis Spey rod dangling in his hand that cost over 800 dollars and he said, "I'm going to have to get one of those rods, it looks to cast really well based on the distance you were hitting".
What I took from that was that both the rods were pretty good but one cost more than the other. Really not much different than a car really, as long as your car is dependable and you drive it well then you'll drive what suits you and what you can afford. I have rods that were pretty expensive and I have rods that were pretty affordable, some are indeed better than others. I think that today it may be harder to pick a true winner because many are almost equal in performance and price. What I mean is 30 or more years ago there were not 20 'Must Have Rods', there were maybe half a dozen really different high performance sticks. Now there are a hundred in maybe 8 different price points.
Well, being the last fella to buy the $700 rod I should probably respond. I do it for no other reason than because I can and it brings me enjoyment.
Why ride a Harley when a Moped will do?
Why drive a Cadillac when a Yugo will do?
Why live in a house when an apartment will do?
Why eat a steak when a hotdog will do?
A fly rod, or any fishing pole for that matter, is just a glorified stick. So why even bother with any of it?
Life is filled with these little things and I could go on and on and on...
As odd as it may sound, I feel different when I am fishing with one of my Sage (or other) rods. I have fished other, less expensive rods and they do not have the same feel. I'm not talking slow/med/fast action either. It is something more primal, I guess, than that. Something down in my souls that speaks to me.
Even if you are not a totally materialistic type person there come with 'things' a certain pride of ownership or perhaps a sense of accomplishment and the rod or the car or whatever is the reward. I believe we sometimes are on a whole, misunderstood when we take an earned reward. It can be taken that you are making a statement to someone other than yourself by what you choose as a reward. Actually I have only ever cared whether or not I liked whatever I could afford myself and never purchased things just to run with the herd.
So....... I get it, I understand the thread starters thought and I get yours as well.
Oh no not another "is it worth it" thread , worth is a personal thing. I know what I like and the price tag that comes with it, so for me the answer is yes. Now if we were talking injection molded plastic or fancy toenail clippers then I'd say no, but that's me.
Why fancy rods? I think my old fishing buddy put it best when he said, "It's what we do". He meant fly fishing of course and fly fish we did. We lived it and breathed it and had serious DT's when we couldn't do it for a few days in a row.
Some people will take that $700.00 and snort it up their noses in a weekend.
Others will spend it on bottles or in a bar in a short period of time and not have a whole lot to show for it.
Other ways to look at it is to use sporting anologies.
How much do green fee's or country club memberships cost an avid golfer not including clubs, balls and other stuff?
I love auto racing but cannot afford a Porshe or Ferrari but I can have the equivalent to either one with a $700.00 rod in the fly fishing world.
All that said, the $700.00 is a barrier I can't see myself breaking into for a plastic fly rod. In fact, you won't see me paying any price that even begins to approach $700.00.
In my opinion the rod makers are way past the point of diminishing returns with their premium rod pricing but who knows, if one of them dared lower their best offerings prices would they sell as many? I can just imagine the skuttlebutt if something like that ever happened.
With TONS of disposable income and a good, long life ahead of me I would take a long, hard look at owning rods at those prices but unfortunately, I have neither so I'll just have to stay with yesteryears' premium rods which are fantastic rods even now but cost me a great deal less than $700.00.
I think when people become passionate about just about any hobby, a big part of the enjoyment associated with the hobby is buying stuff. Guitar players have a name for it -GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). Buying stuff is fun, it's just like Christmas.
I think that's a major reason why folks enjoy spending time at great forums such as this. It's fun to spend time with other folks who share your passion discussing equipment and such.
As with most things in life, it's easy to blur the distinction between need and want. I need new tennis shoes, I want new Nikes. So if the question is do I need a $700 rod to catch fish, the answer is a resounding NO. Countless fish have been caught on the equivalent of a $30 yellow Eagle Claw rod coupled with a $25 Medalist reel. Will buying a $700 rod that you want make you happy? Only you can answer that.