It sometimes amazes me at the amounts of money that some individuals spend on fly fishing related gear – specifically the amounts that are spent on fly rods. Some time back the owner of a very well known fly shop in Colorado – one that would benefit greatly by the sale of expensive rods by the way – put together a great piece highlighting why you are probably spending too much on a rod.
The first point in his arguement is:
1. The more expensive rods don’t catch more fish. So don’t think that because you are paying more for a rod, you will catch more.
Most often a more expensive rod WILL NOT make you a better caster – I’d even say that many times it makes you a worse caster! Today’s rods tend to lean more towards ‘tip flex’ instead of moderate actions – many of them on the expensive end of the spectrum. ‘Tip flex’ rods, from my experience are much more difficult for MOST fishermen to cast because they loose the feel of the rod actually loading.
So it maybe that you have an affinity with a characteristic which is not solely about catching fish. Rather there is some other aspect of the sport to which you are attracted.
Also, do you really believe that a fish cares if a bug is presented with an expensive rod? All that fish cares about is if the fly is presented in a way that convinces it to eat or not.
So ask yourself whether you just want to catch fish or satisfy some other urge. If you just want to catch fish, the relevance of the rod should be dictated solely by reference to that metric. Cost should generally be irrelevant.
2. The more expensive rods are not necessarily more expensive to build. The increased price is often just to fund the extensive marketing and propaganda campaigns that rod makers undertake to convince you that their product is better.
The ability to have a “peek behind the curtain” has been an eye opening experience for me! The amount of costs associated with marketing, sponsorships, enormous amounts of overhead is incredibly substantial. Those costs will be transferred to the consumers.
So why are some rods more expensive than others? The answer is simple. Marketing. If you read fishing magazines, you will see particular products given a lot of real estate in the various publications. This is simply a consequence of magazines demanding that manufacturers advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews. Nothing more. If you want proof, look at the number of advertisements devoted to particular brands and then check out the numbers of reviews and advertorials where those brands are mentioned. Then look at the brands which don’t seem to show up in the magazines so much and see how little they advertise. In other words the fishing press simply sells itself for advertising dollars. Nothing more. Then the uninformed public sees the masses of print devoted to particular products and that becomes their choice. These companies do it because they have the budgets to do it and to some extent it works sufficiently to justify the expense.
If you are to take a rod that costs in the $200-$400 range produced by a company that DOES NOT spend a great amount of money on advertising and compare it component by component to a rod in the $600-$800 range produced by a company that DOES spend enormous amounts of money and promoting their product – you’d be surprised! Often times you are actually getting less in the more expensive rod!
I’m not saying that the least expensive rod is as good as all the other rods out there. What I am saying is next time you are in your local fly shop, do a side by side comparison of rods that are in different price brackets – start at the tip section and work your way down.
Are the guides for each rod comparable? Check!
Do they have the same number of stripping guides? Check!
Is the cork quality relatively the same? Check!
Are the reel seats similar – both double locking? Check!
Then cast each rod – try and hit a target at the distance that you will be fishing away from you most often. Does each rod allow you to hit that target?
**Block quotes were pulled from an article on the Frying Pan Anglers website, more info can be found here: http://www.fryingpananglers.com/How-to-choose-a-fly-rod.html