Gear is pretty good these days. When it comes to high end fly rods, is better worth it?
Entry level is pretty good: The TFO fly rods I mostly use have done well. In fact, I think most production fly rods you find in fly shops now are pretty good rods across the board. Among entry-level/price ($200-$300 or so) fly rods, I've fished St Croix Imperial and Sage Launch rods that were were also light years better than the fiberglass Sears fly rod I used for panfish in my youth. Why bother buying a better fly rod? I understand a quality rod can matter a lot for that epic bonefishing/marlin/tuna trip and all, but for most of us in Alaska, fishing freshwater streams with 5wt-9wt gear, does better gear really matter that much more?
Tech talk: Here's a technical explanation from Tom Valone at:http://greatoutdoorprovision.com/blo...sive-fly-rod/: "One example of the care that goes into an expensive rod is the wrapping of the power material around the mandrel during manufacture of a typical, hollow built fly rod. First, the resin used to hold the whole thing together through millions of casts and thousands of fish is highly UV resistant, extremely strong, and is present in only the amount needed to hold the fibers of glass or graphite together. This insures that the rod weighs as little as possible, and the designed action is not dampened by extra, non-power producing weight. Second, the pre-impregnated ribbons of longitudinal power fibers need to be carefully cut so that there is the exact same amount of power fibers all 360 degrees around the shaft. If there is overlap or under lap, the rod will not cast straight. Nor will it cast straight if the seam spirals around the shaft. “Rolling” the blank is an experts job. Oven time and temperature to catalyze and then cure the resin in the blank needs to be precise or the result is a weak rod. Finally, the sanding of the rough areas left by removal of the shrink wrap that held the ribbon of power fibers in place needs to be done so as not to leave excess resin in various places on the blank yet not cut into the power fibers as either would result in an inaccurate rod. Then the rod needs to be placed on a deflection grid with various loads to insure that the rod flexes as designed; those that don’t pass are destroyed".
Really? Maybe that's true technically, but are high end rods worth 2 or 3 times the cost? What do you get for that? I've fished with guys using $600-$700 rods and they did waaaay outfish me (they caught more and larger fish - not necessarily had more fun), but I figured that was their experience making the difference. I believe newbies catch fewer fish largely due to undeveloped technique, missing takes mostly. But a better rod could matter, I guess. I wonder for all the reasons that duck hunters crave Benelli SBEs, or skeet hunters want those Caesar Guarinis (?), or racers excel with Ferrarris and Ford Cosworths, etc.
Once you spend the bucks ($400-$700 or so) for a top-end Sage, Winston, St Croix, Scott, G Loomis, is it worth it? Better "feel"? Catch more fish? Detect more takes? Fish longer? Is it 2X or 3X as good as those entry level $250 sticks?