I am reluctant to invest too much money in most of my rods. I love fly fishing, but live on a tight budget. I've owned several rods in the lower price range, and have been impressed with the quality of a couple brands and a bit disappointed with a few others.
For rods costing less than $250. My rating so far in my limited experience would be -
Ross Worldwide as the best so far. For the cost of the rod(s) the quality of components and build (fit and finish) they have been my choice for the best value on a "quality received for dollar spent" basis of comparison.
Sage has been equally good for quality, but the prices are a bit higher.
Redington rods are good, but the overall quality has been a little low (a few obvious imperfections in the economy models).
Greys is OK, but I had to get rod #1 replaced due to glaring defects and rod #2 had one small imperfection that won't affect function (dented butt cap) on close inspection.
Cabela's is the only rod I've had break, and their warranty department disappointed me. The rod was less than two weeks out of warranty, but they refused to budge on the time frame. It's out of date - we won't warrant it!
What's your experiences been with the low-end rods from well known manufacturers?
My last 3 "new" factory rods were all bought as "closeouts" and they were purchased some years back. Since then I've only been interested in "vintage"
the $150 Fenwick 5wt was $385 retail. Fenwick doesn't sell anything in that price range anymore so maybe that one should't count. I don't use it very often, but it's one of the highest quality rods I own. I have no complaints.
my St Croix Legend 10wt was $100. I've had to replace the cork but other than that it's a good rod and I use it regularly
the one of the bunch that I use most often is a Diawa/Locmor 4wt that I got for $50. It's a beauty, very light weight, nice components. I have no idea why it was so cheap.
I started fly fishing on a tight budget so have some experience with lower price fly rods. I, too, find the Ross Worldwide Essence to be in the top 10% or so of rods under $250. My hands down favorite company for rods in that price range, though, has to be TFO. They make a rod which casts and feels like it should be twice the price. I have the Lefty Kreh traditional, finesse, pro and a BVK. The BVK is my favorite, it is my go-to rod among all the others I have, which includes a couple of Sage's less exspensive fly rods (the ones under $400). Check em' out here: flyrods
Another great company for that price range is Allen, I have the Xa and the Myth, both fantastic rods which feel like they should cost more: Allen Fly Fishing
My early rods included 2 new St Croix Pro Graphite rods that were about 80 bucks ea...both very nice rods in 5 and 8 wt. I still have and fish the 8wt and from appearance to performance, those rods were a bargain. Slower than most might like, but super for me.
Since then I have only purchased rods used and my arbitrary rule is to pay less than 50% of retail. Sometimes you have to be patient, but the deals will find you if you're patient. I'd rather pay 200 bucks for a $400 rod than buying a new price point model.
I have to agree with Mikel that a used "out of production" rod can be an excellent value. I have only purchased one used rod to this point but I know that future purchases will be of the experienced variety. I just picked up a 2 wt rod made on a Sage blank that is much better made than my Sage 0 wt. The 2 wt was $79 at an estate sale, and appears unfished. I think the fun of the hunt for used equipment is not unlike looking for antiques, but you can have too many antiques but not too many rods.
st croix imperials ever go on sale that would be the rod to buy in my opinion even though they only top out at 200 dollars anyways. We've had a 9' 6wt 2 piece and its been thoroughly used. We passed it along to our cousin because our 6twt arsenal became to big. It sure doesnt feel like a 200$ rod to me, feels more like a 300-500$ rod in my opinion. The st croix Rio Santo is also a great bang for the buck as well. I have nothing but good things to say about st croix.
I have picked up a 6wt sage z axis switch for 200. But that was a deal of a lifetime and it was used.
You can buy a lot of rod for 200 dollars used. I think right now you can get a gloomis gl3 used for probably around the 200 dollar range, and that is a sweet stick.
This is by no means an absolute, but as one whose bought and sold a lot of rods in his life ( I was a dealer of many lines ) and a guy who still enjoys testing out and fishing as many new rods each year as I can get my hands on.
When we’re talking about rods that come in at less than $350.00, I’d “almost always” rather go with the highest end rod from one of the better offshore rod makers, than one of the lower end models from one of the premium brands. Dollar for dollar, the top shelf offshore rod will usually demonstrate the highest build quality of that producer along with their best design, components and technology. The lower end premium brand offering is often a mere shadow of what that company can do.
I also believe that some of the better offshore rod makers get very little play in both the press and on the bulletin boards, simply because they are lesser known. Not necessarily because the better known offshore rod makers are making better rods.
There was a time when buying a Sage rod took some self confidence. Someone had to be the first to step off the curb, same goes for T.F.O..
Whose going to be the next hot rod maker? Maybe their already here and we’ve just been ignoring their products.
Wow, this is thread is coming at the right time! I have been considering my current fishing habits. For years I have been a baitcast and spinning reel fisherman for warmwater species. A few years ago I took sme casting lessons for the fly rod. It has only remaind a marginal thing for me, but I want to shift more into fly fishing as the spincast and baitcast has been getting a bit stale. Also been thinking of doing more coldwater fishing too. So I decided to upgrade to a rig which I could have a little bit of "pride in ownership" in, even if not an expensive rig. So I bought a Lamson Konic in 5 weight to match with a Sage Vantage. Something neat, useable, looks decent, but did not invest a ton of money into. But now I am also realizing that I need "more" if I am going to do what I want to do. But for the next couple rigs I am looking at I am now looking at bargains. I had never even considered used (don't ask me why not) let alone closeouts. So thats a nice tip I thank you all for. So I will now be on the bargain search for a 7'6" 3 or 4 wt. (for small and tight streams) and a 9' 6 or 7 weight (for casting warm water flies from a kayak). Doing two rods, reels, and line all at once means bargains are most important. As it is all this has to wait a while (which I guess is a good thing that fishing season is still a few months off.) But that does not mean I can watch this thread carefully, do some browsing, and hopefully save myself a ton of money.