Well I finally got a chance to get some casting time in with my new March Brown and compare it to my son's rod (Flextec CRX88). Both are 9 foot, 5wt (the flextec calls itself a 5/6). By all accounts I've heard, the March Brown should be the better rod. Certainly it has better appointments: single foot guides, two stripping guides, nicer cork, wood inset, nicer reel seat hardware. It generally gets great reviews and seems to be considered a very nice rod that happens to come in seven pieces. The Flextec seems to be generally seen as a budget rod, a nice one, but still a budget rod.
Yet for some reason I found myself better able to cast with the Flextec. Despite the fact that the Flextec is heavier overall, and definitely thicker, I found myself working harder with the March Brown and getting worse results. With the same setup on both, I got significantly more wind knots on the March Brown (yes, I cast like a noob), and had a harder time getting the same distance. I tried both a 5 and a 6 wt line and got the same results with both, though frankly I couldn't tell a difference between the lines on either rod.
I'm wondering if the difference could be the rod action. The March Brown seems faster, something that matches reviews I've read. I've heard that moderate actions are more forgiving for those of us who can't cast worth a .... Could that account for my having a harder time with the March Brown: more wind knots, not as much distance, more tiring? Maybe I'm working against the rod rather than with it?
In any case, it seems I do better with budget gear than with the priceier stuff. Finally some fly fishing gear news my wife will be happy to hear!
If anyone wants a good deal on a March Brown Hidden Water, let me know.