I personally love the high end equipment, you really do get what you pay for, unfortunately I don't have a high end bank roll and have done pretty well with catalog gear. There are certain items where I would rather save up for higher quality than to compromise but it certainly isn't necessary to get started into fly-fishing, you can go spend a couple hundred and have a fully serviceable rig on the water, learning to fish with good feedback from the rod.
I was simply reflecting on my personal experiences, and I hope that the newbie will understand that there is more selection in equipment than what magazines offer. I only mentioned one person: me.
.......... I saw plenty of Ross and Abel reels, but never a Pflueger Medalist or cast aluminum reel. I never saw a Cabela's Three Forks rod or a flyrod sold from Gander Mountain. People wore expensive clothing and toted high end gear.
I have noticed in the last few years that Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's have advertisements and product evaluations in the very same magazines today. Why weren't they in the magazines back then? Were the magazines only concerned with selling expensive gear that promoted the image of flyfishing?
I just feel that the very same magazines that were in the business of promoting flyfishing were turning people off by suggesting that high end gear= flyfishing. Are flyfishing magazines conveying the impression that flyfishing is considered a "speciality" style of fishing...and trying to attract a select group of people?
Use what gear turns you on & what you can afford. To me, those flyfishing magazines tried to paint a picture showing people that you were not with the "in crowd" unless you dressed and played the part. Yes, these were my initial impressions of flyfishing.
Robert- read what I am writing and think about it for a minute or two.
Marketing and advertising.
Two simple words.
Those two words help "Fly Fishing" (fly fishing only) magazines stay in business.
Fly fishing magazines are only bought by- fly fisherpersons!
Cabels, BPS, Herters and others you're familar with don't do a lot of advertising with fly fishing magazines.
Why you ask? Because fly fishing is a very small nich in the overall fishing industry. So Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops and others like them, along with Pfluger, Okuma and other lower end reels, Berkley, Eagle Claw, and the rest of the Chinese import fly rods are advertised in magazines like Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and other magazines that cater to hunters, spin fishermen, bait chuckers etc. That's called demography. Advertising is BIG, BIG, BIG business and it's very scientific as to how advertising dollars are spent the wisest- more bang for their buck in other words.
Winston, Sage, Loomis, Orvis, Able, Ross, Galvan, Hardy, Simms, Patagonia will advertise with fly fishing mags, because that's where the targeted demograpics will bring in the most bucks for their advertising. Because the products are made for "FLY FISHERMEN"!
I haven't subscribed to F&S or Outdoor Life for years. Because I'm not interested in hunting and spin/bait fishing anymore.
As you know, I have, fish and love my premium rods and reels. Not because I read fly fishing magazines with all the premium gear advertisments, but because I like fishing with better gear. I didn't need the mags to tell me to buy this and that. Low end rods and reels gave way to better rods and reels gradually. Fishing with friends and trying new, better gear that they had opened my eyes. Yes the tired, old worn out and not amusing cliche of the fish don't care how much your rod costs is true, but then again fish don't cast your rod for 6+ hours an outing either.
So in ending my manifesto, who cares about the initial impressions of fly fishing, because once you get into it, those impressions are thrown out the window. There's more to fly fishing then looking good and casting a rod and a fly to a fish.
I think the real beauty of what is being called high end gear is that until you own and use it you have no basis for comparison with the lower priced gear. I have a bamboo rod that would cost 2300 to have one made today. The man who built mine has retired so a new one would not only cost more than I paid for mine back in 1992 but would not be by the same maker. I also have a graphite rod marketed under the label 'Quarrow' the Quarrow cost only 59.99 dollars delivered. I like both and both work really well for casting fly line and flies. There are other graphite rods here too, some sold as high as 460 in the 90's and there is an Orvis Far & Fine I bought in 1979 for 285, a princely sum for a rod back then.
The point of all this seems simple to understand, (to me) that Orvis Far & Fine Graphite was on my wish list for almost 2 years. I learned of them through an ad in Fly Fisherman Magazine in 1977 - 1978 and saved a little money in a special fund so I could buy one someday. I had to drive 150 miles (one way) to get to a shop where the rod was at so I could see one in person and I took it home with me the other 150 miles. I fished with that rod today, July 26, 2011 and enjoyed the rod as much as I did throughout the late 1979 season when I got it. On the little down locking reel seat was one of my old Hardy reels, a Marquis #5 and it is just a perfect fishing set to use.
I own Pflueger reels, Martin MG-3 and 63's and even an old Cortland Graphite LTD #60. My first reel was a Pflueger skeletal reel followed by a South Bend #1200 and then an Olympic reel. The truth is that I never remember sitting around wishing for another of those reels. I wanted an Orvis CFO when they came out and when I discovered a shop that had Hardy's in 1979 I liked them too. Nothing is as smooth as a CFO but few reels say tradition like the Hardy's so they became my reels to wish for. I slowly became a big game fisher and there was a need for reels that would handle salmon from Land Locked Atlantic's to the King's so I needed more reels. The reels were expensive with the lowest priced being an Orvis Battenkill Disc when they were introduced for 89.99. It was a little better than my Marquis #2 clicker but not a whole bunch. Now I use a Hardy Salmon reel that I gave 750 for (saved the money little by little) and it does the job better than any reel that I have had yet.
When you get right down to it, it's not the price of the gear, it's the performance of the gear. If you find something for 59.99 that suits your needs that's great! However, you need to keep an open mind and realize that some of those expensive rods and reels are suiting their owners needs as well. I recommend looking for value, sometimes as was the case with my salmon reel, there was a value in the reel but it was not the low price.
I understand that the magazines are primarily an advertising platform...most are. Last week, I was browsing thru a flyfishing magazine, and I noticed 2 different ones: Sage and Bass Pro Shops. The Sage took an entire page while the BPS ad took a fraction. The Sage ad is larger, but that doesn't mean that the consumer is more likely to purchase Sage gear. One reason for the full page Sage ad is simple: prevent others from using that space reserved for advertising.
Ten years ago you could not locate a BPS or Cabela's ad in a flyfishing magazine. Both companies sell fly gear, but advertising is simply a way to increase visibility. BPS, Sage, Cabela's, Winston...they simply exist to generate a profit. BPS and Cabela's have the same agenda....sell flygear to generate profits.
Here's a thought: Is it possible that BPS and Cabela's were not allowed to advertise, to save room for the Thomas and Thomas ads, Winston ads, and the like? It has only been in the last few years that "big box" stores have been advertised? Why discriminate? They all produce flygear, and they want to sell it.
Why not allow equal advertising space? A flyrod is still a flyrod, and a flyreel is still a flyreel. All advertisements are promotional avenues, regardless of price or selection.
All items are worthy of advertisements IMHO. Advertise cast reels as well as machined ones. Advertise $50 rods as well as $500 ones. Flyfishing is flyfishing, right?
I'd rather not get involved, but...Cabelas, Orvis, BPS, etc have NO problems reaching customers. I get catalogs from the big box stores regularly, with Cabelas sending them every 3 months. Orvis sends a newletter style advertisement, and I actually look through it before it hits the recycling bin. Walk down the street, and ask the first 10 men and women if they've heard of
Cabelas, and then ask them if they're heard of Sage/Winston/T&T. The nearest Cabelas is 80 miles from my home, and everyone knows exactly where it's located. I show people a high-end rod or reel, and I get a blank stare.
People who read fly fishing magazines are not missing what Cabelas has to offer. Cabelas bombards them with enough info already, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sage/Winston/and T&T don't have the financial resources to send out advertisements in the mail, so of course they hit the magazines with full page ads.