01-22-2009, 12:07 PM
They're both fine rods. But I think that finding the right rod for YOU will depend on a lot on your casting stroke, and I would try as many different ones as possible to find a match.
The Orvis T3 in 9 weight for example comes in 2 flavors-- a tip flex and mid flex. The tip flex is a faster action rod, better for a short quick stroke, and has a stiffer butt section (good for lifting fish from the depths if you fish from a boat), and may be a better choice for windy conditions. The midflex version is a little more forgiving in terms of casting, with a flex that reaches further down the blank. There's no right or wrong here as to which one is "better"-- different strokes (literally) for different folks... Both versions are priced the same.
In addition to the rods you mentioned which will run just shy of 500, I would also take a look at some TFO rods. For saltwater in a 9 weight, I'd look at the TiCr, the TiCrX, and the Axiom. Each of these rods has a bit of a different action, and one of them might be a good fit for you. They are a very good value and range in price from 230-270. Even their Pro model is a decent rod at around 170.
Another alternative, if you'd consider a used rod in 3 piece (a pain to fly with since they're just a bit too long to be checked in over head compartments) would be a Sage Rplx. It's a fast action rod (many people over line it one line weight) and a very sweet SW rod. You can typically find them for 200-250 used, but try to find one with a blank warranty card. If you know a bunch of people that SW fly fish, chances are one of them has one you can try.
If you're new to SW fly casting,you might want to try a bunch of different rods with different lines- both rated weight and 1 line weight over. Many people-- but not all- prefer a faster action rod in salt. The trade off is that they can be a little less forgiving in casting. One way around this is to buy a faster action rod to grow into, but in the meantime slow it down a bit by using a heavier weight line.
Chances are, if you try a bunch of different rods with different actions, all of a sudden one will start whispering in your ear...
As for a complete outfit for 500, most rod and reel manufacturers tend to be strong in one or the other but not both. For SW, I'd probably be looking to mix and match-- although if you're buying everything from one place (rod reel line) you'll usually get a significant break on the price if they help you put it all together. I think that the choice of the reel will depend on what you're fishing for to some extent, but at a minimum look for corrosion proof components, easy spool changes (without having to unscrew anything) and a smooth disc drag and 200 yds of backing capacity with fly line and 20lb dacron. If you were chasing small tuna, bonefish etc, a higher quality/cost reel might be justified. Up until a few months ago I would have suggested a Teton Tioga (around 150) for most inshore SW stuff, but they recently have had some financial problems and have ceased production while they look for a buyer.
Hope this helps, I'm sure others will weigh in with some more suggestions.