So.. I have been to several fly shops. I am totally new to this sport and want to buy a set up without breaking the bank. I live in the pacific northwest.
The two fly shops I went to (also went to many non fly shop big store) had differing opinions.. both older guys who had fished many years.
First recommended a windston passport 9' 5wt with echo ion reel with line and backing for a total for $310 as a great starter setup up. Felt is was a good rod that I would use forever.
The second shop recommended a much cheaper rig an echo solo combo for $170. This included a 9' 6wt echo solo rod, echo solo reel, line and backing.
First shop felt the echo solo was a bit lower end. Second shop felt the echo solo was an excellent first rod, would do everything I needed.
First shop felt the winston was a far better rod and would cast better and do more.
Second shop felt the echo solo reel was a weak point, but that didn't matter for trout and small mouth (most of what I fish) and recommended I stick with it until I got good enough to care about the reel quality.
the price diff is pretty severe.. I need advice.
Did you get a chance to cast any of the rods? When buying rods it is mostly a personal touch type of thing, kind of like buying cars or trucks. I can say I love Chevys, the next guy will say I love Fords, nobody is really right or wrong, it is just a personal choice. Your casting style is going to be different than mine so for me to tell you that Winston rod, the Orvis rod, the Echo rod or whatever is the greatest, doesn't do you any favors.
You should cast the rods you are considering and then make an informed choice. If you haven't done much casting, then take a hour or two lesson from one of the shops, that way you can learn the basics and at the same time try out a couple different rods and see what feels the best in your hands.
Good luck with your search.
What you want to do is first establish your budget. Sounds like you already have some ideas on that.
Go into the shop with open eyes. Cast a lot of different rods until you hone in on the action that feels most comfortable to you, even if they're out of your budget. Once you establish that, ask the fly shop what they have or can get you that might be similar. I'm with Larry, the rod that feels right in your hands is a personal choice. FWIW, the first "real" fly rod I bought was a medium-medium fast action, it just suited my casting stroke a little better. Then I acquired some faster action rods, which I still enjoy but I find myself gravitating back to medium-medium fast action rods.
To really blow up your head, the line that you were casting can also impact how that rod felt when casting. I won't get into much of that here as that's an entirely different discussion. This is a worthwhile read though:
What type of fish will you be targeting with this setup? The reason I ask is that will aid in dictating reel recommendations. For trout, you might not want or need to get a reel with as significant of a drag as if you were fishing for say, steelhead or salmon.
Good luck on your hunt, please do ask questions, let us know what you end up with and have fun!
Sounds like you are off to a good start. Personally, I don't like to ask others opinions about what rods I would like, simply because it's purely preference. Larry and Jaybo have you pointed in the perfect direction.
1) Establish budget and species you will be targeting with your new rod.
2) Take a casting lesson
3) Cast a few different rods at each fly shop
4) Figure out which action rod feels best to you
5) Have the fly shops recommend rods based on the type of action and feel that you like.
6) Cast those rods again
7) Buy what you're most comfortable with and have fun catching fish.
8) Come back here and ask all the new questions you will surely have.
Targeting trout and small mouth.
The guys at the fly shop said the reel doesn't matter because the fish of this size won't really put any strain on even the cheapest reel.
I'll give it a whirl.
Is there anything wrong with the echo solo? It seemed nice, but I worry about getting TOO CHEAP when buying equipment.
There won't be anything "wrong" with the echo. What is their warranty? That's a big seller for me and one reason I own so many TFO's. If Echo has a good rod warranty, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Are they made of the same quality as a Winston? Probably not. Will they get the job done anyways? Yes.
If you end up liking the sport, chances are this is the first of many rod purchases. Just find a rod that feels good to YOU, and you have yourself a winner. Doesn't matter if it's $100 or $800. Casting a rod that is comfortable to you will make the experience much more enjoyable.
If the softer / slower rod felt good and you're new to all of this it may be better suited for a starter than a stiff quick stick. I like slower - softer rods and don't try casting them a mile, they are swell to fish with.
Rod choices... Everyone has an opinion. I'm with Ard on this one, go with a softer, up to medium fast rod to start with.
Plan on experimenting after you get used to that because you can't really know what yours best for you until you know what you are doing. Softer rods are more forgiving if your timing and technique are off a bit.
If you are looking at trout and smallies, say with a 5-weight or 6-weight, and you are more budget minded, seriously consider one of the Made in England Cortland Crown or Crown II reels off ebay. they run under $50 and get the job done well. I've fished them for years and years and never had issue with them. They don't impress anyone, but the are high on the bang for your buck list. Have an extra small on my #5, a small on my 9' #5 and a "95" on my 9' #7. I don't fish in monster country so the limited drag has never been an issue. An inexpensive, effective reel leaves you more cash for the rod and line. If you don't like it, you can upgrade later and sell the Crown to me; I'm collecting spare reels and spare parts because I have no need of getting anything else.
The echo and winston both have lifetime warranties.
Echo is $35 they replace it.
Winston is $50
So both are good there.
it was fun because the guy who I tested with was a fly instructor who was helping out at his friends store. He had never cast an echo solo before.
He tried it himself and said.. man this is pretty good rod..
Gonna go to another shop and fly the winston tomorrow.