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Old 03-15-2008, 12:23 AM
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Default Question about rod quality

Hi everyone,
Now that the long cold winter of Northeast Pennsylvania is nearing it's end I am back into fly fishing mode. I have a quick question. As some of you may have read, I made a recent trip to Cabelas and treated myself to some new toys. One being a Reddington Crosswater 8wt rod for tossing some of the heavier flies I want to use in the Susquehanna river. I had the opportunity to try it in my neighbors back yard last week. We got so much rain that his back yard literally turned into a pond. I couldn't wait to get my new rod out to give it a try. Keep in mind I have not made a cast since November. After about 10 minutes of geting the feel back, I was able to very nicely present a cast of relatively good distance without much effort. I know this was a cheap combo ($99 - Rod/Reel/Line) but it seems to work quite nicely. I have read several posts on here about not buying "cheap gear" but I have to ask the question... why do I need to spend upwards of 3 times that much if $99 works? My other 2 rods are a St Croix Reign 4wt and 6wt and I really like both of those. Is rod quality something you appreciate more over time?

Just an observation, If I drive a Ford Taurus $20K, and then I drive an Audi S4($60K), I will instantly be able to tell the difference in the quality, even if I knew nothing about cars.

BUT, if I buy a $600 MTD lawnmower, it will cut the grass just as effectively as a $3000 John Deere, but at a fraction of the cost.

Get my point?

Where/when will I start to appreciate the higher priced rods and notice the big difference in quality?


I thought of a great additional point to make regarding this question. In addition to the above comparisons.... lets add the comparison of Honda vs a Harley. Many will argue the point that at less than half what you would pay for a Harley, you could actually get a more reliable Honda with equal if not better performance measurments. The downfall is, "It's not a Harley". Could there be similar reference made about fly rods? Where certain name brands are high priced because they have the name on the rod, but are in all actuality no better than a lesser known brand?
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Old 03-15-2008, 06:31 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

I think the comparison is closer to skis, than to a car.

I am not a great flycaster, so i cant notice much different between rods. However i can tell the littlest subtleties between different pairs of 600 dollar skis. Because i can push them to the limit. My skiing ability is limited by the equipment i am riding.

How far i cast is not determined by the equipment, heh. Hopefully some day though.
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Old 03-15-2008, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

Big question---I'll try--the first considerations would be:
1.)Are there budget considerations?
2.)Who is going to use the rod and how do they cast?
3.)How long and how often have they flyfished?
4.)What will they fish for and where?
and i'll try to answer them:

First look at why a manufacturer has more than 1 line of rods---each product line must satisfy each of the above questions--the engineering, materials, fitments, development and testing on a budget rod will not be the same as thier top of the line rod.

Each rod will behave differently with different casting styles, body size and strength considerations---a rod designated as a 7wt for a soft open loop caster will become a 6wt for a hard tight loop caster and might have suprisingly different qualities.

Any good caster can make adjustments in thier casting to compensate for most of the compromises made by the manufacturer to target a lower price market but when it comes closer to the best of the quality rods, in some cases it becomes the caster that might not be able to extract the best capabilities of the rod (top end rods) .

The rod must fit the casters preferences or application but new casters might not have developed a style or preference.

The longevity of the rod is a consideration as well---a cheaper rod might not have the construction to last a long time. Years ago, we used s-glass rods that we bought blanks for 12 bucks and undelined them 1 line weight and they would get soft in one season. Warranties are generally better on the bigger rod names.

Will the new caster "grow out of the rod" and as he gets more profficient? The quality rod will still be there but the cheaper rods will be passed on to someone thats starting out.

Summary:
Top shelf whiskey and house brands will have the same affect and the best restaurant and the fast food chains will fulfill the hunger pangs but the one might be more enjoyable (during and after). I like riding Harleys rather than Hondas too.
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Old 03-15-2008, 08:34 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

I've had similiar experiences casting less expensive rods. I am of the opinion that graphite technology is so good that today's inexpensive rods perform extremely
well.

They're probably a bit heavier, and during a long day of fishing that might affect you. Also, I don't think they look as good as top-of-the-line rods.

Randyflycaster
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Old 03-15-2008, 08:36 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

I think a lot of the issue regarding cost and quality is just personal preference. My first fly rod was a Cabela's Three Forks - less than $100. I purchased it b/c I did not know if I would like fly fishing, did not want to spend a lot of money, and the price was right. It did its job and did it well. I still have it to loan to people going fly fishing with me and I just purchased a Three Forks for my nephew to get him started in fly fishing.

Now, when I buy a new fly rod, I test as many rods as I can in the weight I want to purchase. Fortunately, the local fly shop has a variety in different price ranges. I take them outside on the lawn and try them for both distance and casting under brush. I also cut the hooks off of several flys (otherwise, catching grass carp gets annoying) for testing how they cast different weight flys. Water isn't available next to the shop, but the method above works for me. Anyway, my hope is always to purchase the most comfortable rod for me at the lowest cost, so I take a variety of rods in different price ranges and have one of the guys change the reel for me. I do not look at the rod for any hints about which model, I just cast them and whittle the selection down to 2 or 3 to try again on a different day (I spend a lot more time casting them the next time b/c I learned after 20 minutes with a rod that I almost purchased that my hand cramps over time with that particular sized grip).

I have done the above for selecting a new rod a number times now. I have always felt that I made the right purchase for me and always end up ruling out the cheaper rods - they never make it to the final cut. The cheaper rods do feel as though they would do the job. Assuming the person has adequate casting skills, I doubt any of the cheaper rods would limit what can be done with them while fishing. I do notice; however, a distinct difference in the ease of casting and comfort (feel in my hand, weight, etc...) between lower and higher cost fly rods - again, just a matter of personal preference.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:46 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

Going to your last comment. I have owned both Honda and Harley, the difference?! Hondas are what we call throw away motors, meaning when they do break down it costs more to fix then to just buy a new one. Harley on the other hand is more a collectors thing. Modifying the motor is common and the parts can be found for less than a new.

If that $99. combo works for you, then there you have it. I think just about everyone started with the less expensive gear, and if they got into it like I did, they up-graded. There is a big difference. Pick up an 8 wt. Redington or a Cabelas of your choice, then pick up a Winston BIIx or a Sage Z-A, then tell me you can't FEEL the difference.
BUT, again, if you don't feel you need that, then don't. There are NO rules in FF (except for calling a ROD a POLE LOL)

Like you mention, here is another more related example:
A MOPED or a HARLEY. Both will get you from point A to point B, but that is about the only comparison.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

My experience has been this:
Higher quality rods are more fun to cast. A very low quality rod can be frustrating to cast. Beginners can't really tell the difference between "medium" quality and "high" quality.
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Old 03-15-2008, 10:52 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

I drive a Honda but it's an 2002 S2000 that's redlined at 9...if I could afford Carrera Twin Turbo I'd have that but that's why I roll my own...IMHO for me my home rolled 10wt TCR blank is the best casting salt rod I have ever used or seriously casted which includes all high ends and off shore salts and it's significantly better for me than my 9wt TCR blank...but
IMHO red wine is a better comparison...there is a diference between 25 and 300 but it's slight and subtle...what's your budget? Just because I cannot afford a 300 claret from Margaux, Latour, or RothC does not mean I will deny my old heart a 10-25 cabernet from CA...but if I could afford 300 I would drink it willingly every day...moi frois be damned..
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Old 03-15-2008, 11:44 AM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

I wiggled a few of the Crosswater rods last weekend, and looked at the
build quality. Seemed like a lot of rod for little $$$. I looked at a St. Croix
Triumph when I was at Dick's Sporting Goods a few weeks ago, and that
looked dandy for $89.

My first fly rod was a $15 fiberglass job: slow, heavy, and nothing to look
at. I don't remember the line I used, but I'm sure it wasn't over $10.
Fast forward to 10 years ago, and I got back onto FF'ing. I bought a Browning
graphte rod from Dick's for $60. What a huge dufference over the old glass
rod! My son and I fished that for a year, and then bought a couple of St. Croix Pro Graphite rods for $90. Made in USA, and we had arrived...LOL!!!!

It wasn't long before I began looking at FF'ing on the internet, and was
led to believe that true happiness was a Winston. Fortunately, there was
a Winston dealer just 15 minutes away. I tried a Winston WT 9' 5wt, and it
felt like my old glass rod, but lighter. The wife (Eyler's Fly Shop in Bryn Mawr,
PA) gave me a Diamondback Aeroflex to try, and I liked it much more than the
Winston, and it was lighter than the St. Croix. She also knocked the price
down to $225! A couple of theoor regular customers came in, and I asked their opinion. One of the guys took both rods outside with me to cast (again),
and asked me how much they wanted for the Diamondback. When I told him,
he smiled and told me to buy the less expensive rod. He did say that all of
his saltwater rods were Diamondbacks, but neither of use felt $400 difference
in the two rods.

My needs in a rod are:
*Lightweight, and a rod that doesn't feel tip heavy.
*Sections that fit together well.
*Decent looks all around, a nice cork grip, and hardware that's decent.
*Something that's at least mod-fast.

I've cast a lot of rods in the past 5 years, and 99.9% can be made to cast
well with proper timing and decent line. My son is home from Dover AFB
today, otherwise I'd be at the fly shop looking at the Winston BIIX or
Sage Z-Axis that everyone's been talking about. Actually, I was at the fly
shop looking at them last weekend, but was afraid to cast one. I'd
probably like it, and feel obligated to buy it.... !

*I was able to take the Redington RS3 I recently bought fishing on the
Delaware River yesterday afternoon. While that rod feel a bit tip heavy while
simply holding it (9' 7wt), it felt great while fishing for an 1 1/2 hours. Some
will say that it might begin to feel heavy after 3 hours of fishing, but I think
it'll be fine. Best of all, Cabelas dropped the price from $199 to $79 on
closeout. Gotta make way the shiney new RS4's...

Don't let the internet make you feel like your rod is inadequate. That's
all I have to say about that .

P.S. If I were going to spend some $$$ on a better rod, I'd probably buy another St. Croix Legend Ultra. I've
owned them before, they balance well, and cast fast enough for me. They are nearly identical in terms of casting to the
Diamondback, but they don't make Aeroflex rods any longer.
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Old 03-15-2008, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Question about rod quality

FB-2:
I agree with your Diamondback Aeroflex appraisal and in fact all of diamondback vermont made rods which unfortunately has for the moment ceased operation under cortland....my "bargain" 8wt Stu Apte essentially same blank as Aeroflex outstanding and I built an 8/9 rated aeroflex blank that I got at the factory store 5 years ago...was the only item that has ever "walked away" on andros...surprised you did not get cane on the main line
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