It's funny that one of the posters mentioned the Sage 590 RPL, I traded mine for a Winston WT 865. And I couldn't believe the improvement in my trout fishing. The 590, handled IMO almost like a 7 weight (I could throw bass bugs with it).
Burk, sounds a lot more like an RPL+ which are probably the most famous graphite rods made for being over lined, the RPL/VPS blank is pretty true to spec. In my experience... have had 3 of both.
Lots of good info here. I'll agree that a beginner is best off starting out with a medium-slow to medium-fast rod, and that a beginner does not have to start out with a cheaper rod. A Sage ZXL or Winston LT would be a perfectly good beginner rod, if said beginner has the budget for it.
One other thing I'd like to point out is that most rods under $100 ARE NOT good beginner rods, because they are often heavy, floppy, don't dampen well, etc. Trying to learn the sport with a frustrating rod is not fun. I generally recommend the ECHO classic 9' 5wt for beginners because its a good medium-ish action rod that behaves well for all casters and is an excellent value with a great warranty.
I was considering both the Echo and a TFO Professional series, both 9ft. 5 wt. How do these two compare? Their prices are the same. I don't have any fly shops in my area and have to do my purchases by mail.
The ECHO Classic is a touch slower than the TFO pro to my experience. Well, not so much noticeably slower as smoother. The TFO Pro rods have a bit higher flex point than the ECHO, but I think the two rods are very similar in power and line speed generation.
I'm not totally sure, but I think the ECHO will be a little lighter than the TFO. Though coming up short in the lightness battle, the TFO might be slightly tougher than the ECHO.
I'd say if a lighter, smoother, glossy green rod that comes with a tube appeals- go for the ECHO.
If punchy, tough, and matte black sounds more your speed- TFO wins the day.
Best option- order both from fly fishing - fly fishing gear, cast them both, and send back the one you like less. He's got a 14 day test-drive program.
This is a good post for me, because I'm getting ready to buy my first fly rod. I have decided to go ahead and get a rod thats around the 400 dollar range. Just so I won't be upgrading it in a year.
Upgrading: It might not be an issue of upgrading, but you might change
your preference in the not to distant future. As people learn how to cast,
develop a sense of what they need in terms of length on their favorite
waters, etc, a new rod is not unlikely . Some start out with a 9' 5wt,
and a year later they're fishing a 7'6" 4wt. $400 will buy two very nice
rods that will cover a wider range of conditions than a single rod. An 8' 4wt,
along with a 9' 6wt will allow you to fish small streams with and large rivers.
Just my $.02 .
P.S. Cliff seems pretty impressed with the Echo line of rods, and I have little reason to doubt his enthusiasm. I don't have any
experience with them myself, but have cast the TFO Pro rods. They're nothing to sneeze at, and an excellent value for $150.
Very good point Frank B. That is great advise. 4 and 6 would just about cover everything we have around here, in fact that is what I started out doing.
2 wt, 4 wt, 6 wt, and an 8 wt (for rare occasions)
The 2wt could be done with out, but a deal I couldn't pass on and is a fun stick on high mountain strams.
I later added the odd number sizes, but also as Frank B said, after awhile you get to a point where you know what will work.
9' is a given, but then I found places I wanted a 7' TO 9' SO AGAIN I FILLED IN THE GAP.
Now I got the short sticks covered, I am looking at 10'+, but I am a fly fish a holic and not looking for a cure anytime soon. ;-)