Difference Between Expensive vs Inexpensive Rods?

candyman

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I just back into fly fishing after being away from it for 15 yrs. Many things have changed during tbat time including the lengths, # of manufacturers, and the associated prices. Reading articles in fly fishing mags and my own opinion on rods prices makes me pose this question to everyone out there willing to respond...

What do you gain with an expensive rod? Im not talking about comparing a $60 rod vs $300 rod. I'm talking about comparisons between a $200, $300, $400, $500, and beyond. They are usually made from the same blanks, warranties are usually lifetime or close to it and cover the same stuff. The higher the price of rods doesn't mean you catch more fish or even bigger fish. So why do people get caught up in buying more expensive rods? I understand to some point technology gets better...generation 1 graphite compared to current generation. Maybe I'm simplifying things but the guy who has $1k of apparel on him and a $1k of rod/reel doesnt mean he's going to outfish the guy next to him with gear costing 1/4 of that. Isnt it about the fky at the end of the line and the presentation?

Thoughts? Comments?
 

cpowell

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I truly think it is like any sport. I enjoy tennis with my sons walmart racket when it is all I have, if I am getting serious I move to my babolat.

Weight is one of the bigger factors as the rods get more expensive. Then flex. Then backbone. To get an ultralight rod that flexs with lots of bottom end power is a more expensive process yet most times it feels and works better to achieve that casting goal.

Do I fish with and have great success and fun with the $40 dollar Grigg I got for my son...you bet. Do I normally use that rod...no chance.

I have found the glut of mid range rods to be clunky yet neat in design. but they get better everyday. Being away from shows and shops I am losing the battle of staying up to date with all of the new technology and brands.

The manufacturing process that places a rod in the upper crust is going to cost $400 to start and as you cast more rods in these categories you will gravitate towards one of the higher end rods that most closely matches your casting style.

I do like crashing through the brush and bushwhacking with a rod that when (not if for me) it goes tip first into the forest bed and explodes I am little more okay with it.

So many great rods...so little time.
 

ia_trouter

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...... Isnt it about the fly at the end of the line and the presentation?

Thoughts? Comments?
That's true of course, but the sport is many things to different people.

For some it is also about owning the nicest and most effective rod available for their particular application. Using the perfect fly, tied on a nice vise with highest quality materials. Owning the best apparel with the best chance of keeping you comfortable on the stream. Maybe it's about fishing in an exotic location when you could fish for the same species much closer to home? Perhaps one prefers to fish only with a rod he built himself with hand selected components? Maybe the goal is to fish with the simplest gear possible?

The sport is enjoyed in many ways. I don't need to understand exactly why my friends here choose to pursue their happiness in any particular way.
 

rsagebrush

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The practical differences are mostly in people's minds. A great rod (think Winston WT, Scott G/G2, Orvis Superfine etc....) is a great rod any day.

A lot of it is about distance and speed and the newer rods certainly accomplish that. Works good on really big water, no so good for fishing. Technically I would imagine their a bit better. Heck they have to do something to convince people to buy a new rod. PT Barnum theory at work here. It's the operator not the tool covers about 90% of the issue.

And there are those that have to have the latest and greatest, even if many of them can't take advantage of it or the advantages have no real practical use. Most fishermen I see on the stream are chucking a giant piece of wool or plastic bobber most of the time. Most fishermen should just invest in lessons and/or fishing with a good fisherman, that is probably worth more.

It's fine, it's what keeps our economy rolling and every once in a while I see something that perks my interest but not very often at the prices I see quoted, so I wait until someone's crushed dream of fishing dominance come up at 40% off from new.
 

planettrout

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When I started doing this Fly Fishing thing, about 43 years ago, it was suggested that I buy the best fly rods I could afford. In those days, the selection was not as prolific as it is today. I started with a Winston "Stalker" 7 1/2', 4wt. Fiberglass and a Leonard "Graftek" 8 1/2' 5wt. (which was one of the first graphite rods on the market). I moved on with early Sage, Walton Powell, Teton and then was introduced to the Scott "G" Series by Georges Odier who worked at Chuck Fothergill's Shop in Aspen, CO.

For me, I have always been a fan of how "higher end" rods feel and perform...that first Winston, shown here on the Frying Pan in 1975...



...is worth more today, then when I purchased it. I participate in a FB Group where this same question came up last week.A lot of guys and gals are sworn supporters of TFO, Echo, Grey's, Cortland and a few other brands I have never owned.

Whatever floats yer' boat...


PT/TB
 
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eastfly66

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Maybe I'm simplifying things but the guy who has $1k of apparel on him and a $1k of rod/reel doesnt mean he's going to outfish the guy next to him with gear costing 1/4 of that. Isnt it about the fky at the end of the line and the presentation?
Hey Candyman , Welcome aboard ! Cold down there in PA too I bet :)

A smile came to me when I read your question, I asked the same thing some time ago, not because I was so much returning to FF but never really paid much attention to gear and all. When I did look at these new elite rods with their elite prices I figured well I guess you must need to be an elite caster to truly experience this eliteness so I embarked on doing something about that too. I didn't achieve that goal by a long shot but I did get a lot better and I do have a stable of elite rods with a few elite reels too , pretty elite of me huh :)

Does it make me a better fly guy ? Well, the answer to your question is actually in your question , at least in part. If you think it is about "outfishing the next guy" than you are missing the point. Does it make you a better caster ? ...in some cases but probably very few, hard work and diligence does that for the most part. Does it enhance the experience ? I'm going to steal a line from a classmate profile in a yearbook long ago that never really made much sense to me but seems to fit well here:

" Nothing is real and nothing is fake , it's all what you feel and all what you make"

Does that make sense to you ? No ? ....That's good than , because in 5 years from now when you reflect on it again it still wont make any sense and you will be looking at all the elite rods and reels you have and asking yourself again :)

Cheers
Paul
 

sweetandsalt

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It is and always has been true that fishermen catch fish. An angler who understands the water and its denizens and can cast a good fly will always catch fish and a neophyte with expensive tackle may not. I take this truth to be self evident but it is not really your question.

Fly rods vary substantially in quality of design, fabrication and application. There is a lot of creativity, astute craftsmanship and material science that goes into one of today's top of the line US built rods, many of which you can read about here in our Rod section of the Forum. However, much cost can be shaved from producing a rod in Asia, as so many other items in today's marketplace. If you look at carefully produced Chinese made rods from the likes of Redington or built in a proprietary Korean shop like TFO, you will fined far better than serviceable rods at a modest price. How do they compare with an $800+ Sage, Scott, Loomis, Winston, etc.? Well, if you are tossing an open loop with a nymph rig and indicator or have yet to mature your casting skills, I actually recommend rods from these companies. Once you develop casting skills and particularly if dry fly fishing with a single unweigted fly becomes your preference, then the subtle but very real refined precision of high end, creatively designed fly rods becomes something to sincerely become excited about. Nevertheless, I sometimes fish a made in Korea Albright EXS (long out of business) that might have cost $200 that, in my opinion, outperforms some current $800 US rods. It is up to each fly fisher to ascertain what qualities suite them in their tackle and, catching fish is up to you.
 

labradorguy

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Wow, it's been like a week since we had one of these threads.... :)

They are all the same... the guys who buy top shelf equipment are made out to be fools and frivolous. Whatever....

Cody is right, this sport is no different than any other. A person is free to play golf with Wal-Mart clubs, nobody is stopping them.

It's unfortunate in these threads that so many opinions are from people who want to denigrate those who choose to purchase the best equipment. I guess it makes them feel better about their choices. IDK.

A Harbor Freight ratchet is just as good as a Snap-on.
A $400 Vulcan or Hesse AR-15 is just as good as a Rock River Arms rifle.
Redball waders are just as good as Simms G3s.

What a person needs to do is determine for themselves if the advantages of top shelf rods are worth their additional expense and not judge others who may choose differently.

I'd say if you only change the blade on your lawn mower once a year, Harbor Freight might be fine. If you just want to shoot beer cans 50' away, the Hesse will do that. Redballs worked for years....

If I'm fishing high winds, technical currents, or I'm having to throw 70' to a fish, I'm going to want an NRX in my hand, not a Cabela's rod.
 

dillon

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What do you gain with an expensive rod?
When acquiring a high end expensive rod one gains a precision tool that has been constructed by a highly skilled professional from a design that has been researched, developed and guarded by the greatest minds in the rod building industry.

A highly skilled experienced caster can bring out the best in these rods. The rod may allow him to make a cast and present the fly to a fish feeding in a very difficult lie. A rod of lesser quality may not be able to bring out the skills that lie within the fisherman.

The finest tools are usually priced accordingly...
 

oldskewl808

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If I pick a guy up at the hotel for a day of flats fishing and I see he or she has a NRX and a N/V I know it's going to be a long frustrating day.


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labradorguy

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If I pick a guy up at the hotel for a day of flats fishing and I see he or she has a NRX and a N/V I know it's going to be a long frustrating day.


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Do what I did when they showed up with a 6wt glass rod. Tell them, "Not in my boat."

The right tool for the right job.
 
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teledan

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Just some thoughts

I agree that it is similar to most other sports, and I like the comparison to tools. I ride motorcycles and there is a big difference between riding a bike that either was cheaply made or is in bad shape and a bike that was built well and is in good tune. Sure the cheap bike will get you around and can be quite fun but once you get on a nice bike that has been taken care of, the difference is obvious. For some people it may not be worth it though. I would never knock the guy riding a beat up old Kawasaki or on the other hand, a guy riding a top of the line Ducati. I've got a couple cheap Cabelas rods that I really enjoy, but I also have a couple Sage rods that just feel so nice! I was looking for a new 4wt a little while back and was thinking about getting a Sage Pulse, but then a few guys here suggested I look at the Sage ONE. It happened to be on sale and was about $50 more than the Pulse. I went and cast them side by side and while the Pulse was a very nice rod, the ONE just felt so much better. It felt more balanced and less sloppy (not that I thought the Pulse was sloppy). For $50 more it was a no brainer for me. At full price though the ONE would have been out of my price range and just not quite worth it to me.
 

rsagebrush

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High end Expensive

That statement is applicable to a $425 Orvis Superfine, a $475 Scott flex as it is to their 'top of the line' models too.

There is also certainly no attempt to denigrate, it is after all a free Country. Really, how much extra skill does it take to cast accurately 10-60 feet consistently to catch fish, after 40 feet your chances go down dramatically anyways. I own technologically inferior rods that cost several times what the Asquith costs, that would be pretty frivolous to many people, and it may be, they keep me satisfied, so I will pass on the lectures. I've done the same thing with watches too. I buy them because I like them, they aren't necessarily better than a quartz Timex.

A lot of time I see folks standing where they should be fishing or shooting line across fast water in some type of weird Hail Mary shot. I can understand in the Salt that may matter a bit but a fellow like Flip Pallot explains most of the fishing is well with range of the average fisher fishing an average rod.

I am sure the new sticks are technological marvels and that is neat although I will pass on the entry price in any given year. So after about $400.00 in today's prices, really little difference at all. And rods like TFO or Redington if mocked up like the big boys would fool about 99% of the people out there. So get some lessons with the money you save.
 

kentuckysteve

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Do you want a rod that will just get the job done or do you want a rod that was designed with the finest quality and years of technology and perfected to do that job? That is the difference.

They both do the job.Just depends on what you're willing to spend and which one you feel you need.I have no problem with anyone owning either.We're all fishermen.
 

rfb700

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I've kinda grown to hate this subject. Fish whatever you are comfortable with or want without regard to what anyone thinks. You want to fish a Ferrari, fish a Ferrari. You want to fish a Lada, fish a Lada.

Are you happy on the water? Does fishing whatever rod you have satisfy you? If so, who care.

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rsagebrush

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rbf700 - actually your correct; so in answer to the OP, it depends on who you are and what your standards are and in the end what makes you happy.

Some will tell you that it has to be the latest and greatest, some that you can get away with the absolute cheapest stuff (my friend golfed with clubs he found in the dump, he was very happy with them) other are somewhere in between.

But remember, in the end it is not the equipment, it is the operator.
 

ken l

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I lost a $600 Orvis 6wt on an ill fated river trip. At the urging of a buddy I replaced with a Shue fly for about $100. I can't tell the difference which says a lot more about me than the rod. I'm still pretty accurate up,to 50 ft.
 

sweetandsalt

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If I pick a guy up at the hotel for a day of flats fishing and I see he or she has a NRX and a N/V I know it's going to be a long frustrating day.


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If I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hawaii and made a plan to meet up and fish with you which I would love to do; there is a high probability my NRX#8 and NV-G might accompany me. There are very few flats outfits its equal. But now I know it might be a turn-off and knowing your penchant for light line weight rigs, I am wanting to try a Korean built SKY#7 with perhaps an Allen Atlas...you're forcing me to spend more money.

---------- Post added at 03:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:56 PM ----------

Now I am becoming embarrassed that, in the adjacent thread, I commented upon upgrading my 30 year old Orvis 8'/#4 and its well worn CFO reel with a mega priced Winston and an about to be released Bauer. For the frequency with which I fish small creeks, rarely, I do not need a new rod. I admit to being intrigued by learning that there are several quality casting rods of this size I have never paid appropriate attention to but that old Western Series is really still a very good little rod.

To the OP's question I still say get a TFO or Redington and only consider an expensive rod when, upon test casting one you fall in love with it. I know how Dillon, above, fishes and also observed when he went from a Cortland Big Sky#6, not a bad rod at all, to a Radian#6 or Scott A4#4 to Sage 8 1/2'/#4 ONE what a difference it made to him, his casting and angling enjoyment. Is it worth it, absolutely, if you have skills like he does.
 

rsagebrush

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I lost a $600 Orvis 6wt on an ill fated river trip. At the urging of a buddy I replaced with a Shue fly for about $100. I can't tell the difference which says a lot more about me than the rod. I'm still pretty accurate up,to 50 ft.
Or it might say something about the Orvis. In the end their tubes with a taper, some are nicer than others, some will work in a pinch, some are just right for you, which in the end is all that counts.

Besides I bet you would not lament over losing the Shue Fly very much.
 

dennyk

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I'm a firm believer in buy it once & done and with my purchase there are no regrets. My selection process is dependent on my casting skill and ability. The rods that are a good match for my abilities are entry level to the high end rods. I buy Born in the USA only, personal choice.

In getting back into fly fishing my choice was Scott A4s in a 5wt & an 8wt, There are better performing rods available, but these suit my needs just fine.

Denny
 
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