No announcement yet.

Why bother with a high-end fly rod?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Why bother with a high-end fly rod?

    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: "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?
    No habitat, no hunter.

  • #2
    Great topic Dwight. Myself, I have pretty high standards for my fishing gear. But it is motivated by several reasons. Namely, I often fish in remote places and want the best gear when I see the bush plane flying away. Also, I think value is a very relative thing. A $500+ fly rod is costly to some, peanuts to others, and absolutely out of the question for others. We all operate on different budgets, priorities, etc.. I remember the first high end rod, a Scott S3s 8 wt. I had serious buyers remorse until I used it. Now I don't think twice about buying a high end fly rod. That first one was the toughest to justify. After fishing with Scott, Sage, and RL Winston rods, I can understand why folks buy them.

    I typically buy two of everything. I never buy a spare spool, I get a spare reel. I take two rods in each wt I am taking, two 6 wts, two 8 wts, etc.. I like a back up to everything. But like I said, it is the type of trip that motivates that thinking more than anything else. I started off with TFO, Cabelas budget packages, etc.. and then got a few nicer rods. Namely, some high end Scott rods. I can say with certainty they cast better (to me) and I enjoy fighting the fish more, feel the rods have more backbone, etc.. And of course there is the lifetime warranty that gives peace of mind for the inevitable. Few budget rods have that kind of warranty, TFO a shining exception.

    I like pairing high quality reels on them too, but only put real money in my 8 wt and 10 wt reels. On my 4 and 6 wts, I have Orvis Battenkill ($100) and they are fine for the fish I target with those rods. Got Lamson Velocity's on my 7 wt, stronger drag, more suitable for larger species. The 8 and 10 wt, I got Ross Evolution and Big Game reels, suitable for the larger species. Point being, I spend money where I think it will be of most usage.

    The Scott rods I bought are $600+ rods, but I have never paid that. I find them on sale online, often when new models come out. A keen eye and patience will allow you to buy rods like this for $350-450. Are they better (to me) than my less expensive rods. Hell yeah. Are they 2-3x as good? Absolutely not. I think there is a diminishing point of return with most things and fly rods are no different. I think you pay 100% more for a rod that is 20% better. That is a fair assessment perhaps. Cars, guns, high end stereo/video equipment, I think all have a diminishing point of return. With that said, I think most folks that fish a Scott, Sage, St Croix, G Loomis, or Winston premium rod will lose their appetite for mediocrity. These rods will spoil you, or that is the effect it had on me at any rate.

    The way I justify it is simple. I fly 9,000 miles each time I fish in Alaska and we do this 2-3 time per year. I plan the trips months in advance. Lots of dough spent of course. I am not going to go through all that trouble and then fish a $100 fly rod.

    A fly fishing snob? I think not. I am just a redneck with a bunch of Scott rods

    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


    • #3
      :-) What of course spending the extra money makes the difference! Oh Snap I drive a Honda Fit! Oops! Don't mean a hills beans bit of difference unless you plan on Fishing size 32 midges in gin clear water for trout over 40 inches. It's a Sage! It's a Scott! It's a Loomis! Who gives a rats butt. Does it cast the way you wish it to cast and are you enjoying the sport only things that matter.

      Yes there are places and times when a particular rod may fit an exact location your fishing for a particular speices of fish that your chasing into a headwind on top of a mountian but for most well let's say be humble.

      I have several Orvis Rods, a single Winston, couple of Scotts, lots of TFO's and 2 dz or so Pacbay, H&H and Damon Blanks I have made for my-self.

      Day in and day out I fish the TFO's the most followed by the rods I have made for my enjoyment. The Orvis rod I fish the most is older 9ft 7 W and the Winston is for fishing out-west 9ft 5W and I only fish the Scott's on small streams for large trout!

      I wish to purchase a Talon but I think my wife would let's say have well we will leave it at that.

      Oh Last time I checked reading water coupled with presentation is much more important than what stick with w string your using. Heck once in a while I pull out a 40 year old Eagle Claw Class Rod just for fun still catches fish.

      Sorry for rambling.


      • #4
        Eagle Claw?? Dang it man, get a hold on yourself

        I spent 20 years fishing Ugly Sticks. I get it. Ha ha....
        The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


        • #5
          Do you need high end gear? Nope
          Is it nice to have? Sometimes
          Is it worth the money? Not Really
          Will it help you catch more fish? Maybe
          Is it awesome to have especially when you fish 100+ days a year? Yep
          I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.


          • #6
            Bluemoose: Eagleclaw, now that brings up memories. I bought my first fly pole in 1963 and it was a glass EC and I think I still have it around somewhere.
            Vegetables aren’t food, vegetables are what food eats.


            • #7
              Bluetooth: I'm with you on this one. I usually use a $75 rod from Wal Mart, "Imperial" made in china. They are light have a fast action and are cheap. That's three of my favorite things in one rod. For $500 I could have 7 of them. As for reels, Okuma makes some very inexpensive reels with pretty good drags. When fishing Kings I use an STH CH3 that has a drag that will smoothly stop a train. It was a little more money at about $100. Maybe there are people that can more effectivly use a "better" rod but it ain't me.


              • #8
                Here's the beautiful thing...You don't HAVE to spend a lot of money on a rod.

                Overall, cheap rods probably catch more fish than expensive rods. Cheap rods get the job done.

                One of the acts of fishing that I enjoy most is casting. Casting can be accomplished with pretty much anything that has the properties of a class 1 lever...matter of fact, I can cast a flyline about 50 feet with just my hands, no rod.

                Is that fun? yeah. Is it efficient? H#ll no. Does it make sense to just cast with your hand all day and wear yourself out? no.

                So I turn to my purpose-made class 1 lever - a flyrod.

                All rods can cast line, but there are a few that have been meticulously engineered to do so with exquisite ease and mechanical precision. Generally speaking, this is where the old phrase, "You get what you pay for" comes in. Also inherent in these higher-end rods is a quality of fit and finish, as well as replicability, or how similar or alike each rod of a particular wt and length are. In the "Intangibles" column, a lot of these high end rods (but famously, not all), have a high degree of "fishability"...rods either have feel, or are dead. Some rods have a high degree of feel... some folks don't believe, but it is there.

                For my tastes and money, there aren't too many rods that can compare with the Winston BII-x. I have cast d@mn near every brand of flyrod made, from funky little boutique shops that roll and wrap a few blanks a week up to the major brands, past & present. I have cast the vast majority of available models, weights and sizes.

                I say this not out of vanity, or as a point of expertise. I say this from the perspective of "I have cast everything, and I purchased what I like best."

                The BII-x fits my fishing and casting style best. Simple as that.

                As I said to start - You don't HAVE to spend a lot of money on a rod.


                • #9
                  I can see it now....

                  "Honey, I need another class I lever"

                  Good post Gsmolt:topjob:
                  The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


                  • #10
                    Anyone interested in this thread will enjoy this article...

                    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


                    • #11
                      Why bother with a high end fly rod?

                      Well if you can afford it, fish a lot and are somewhat proficient to really good with a fly rod then a high end rod is nice to have. You don't need one to catch fish but there is more to fishing for me than the actual catching part. First off I do notice the difference with the higher end rods especially with ease of casting and weight. I can cast a long ways with both my TFO and High end sage but i can do it with less effort with the sage and when you like me and put in 100 days a year with many days being long ones this is important. I also notice better accuracy with the higher end rods as they seem to track better.

                      It's kind of like golf clubs.... they don't make the golfer but if your really good and/or golf a lot it is a good investment



                      • #12
                        Great subject!
                        You can also throw reels into this also!
                        My thoughts are:
                        People buy what they can afford.
                        Some people are sold on "name brands" ---I am not one of those people, today. Used to be , in my earlier years. Then I started to purchase the no-name/brand of rods & reels. There are a number of no-name brands that will perform just as well. You just have to do some research and touch & feel the products!
                        I don't think there is any one type of rod, that is the best fit for everyone. Every person, has a different casting stroke. (I am no expert caster---and don't want to be.) I realized this, for myself, one day, at an Orvis rod clinic.
                        I was handed a rod to try out, when I first arrived. It seemed to work fine, and I casted it for a while. I then handed it off to another person, and picked up another rod from the rack, (same weight) and started casting that one. This rod to me, felt so much better, than the first one, and was easier, & felt better for me to cast. The first rod---in the $800 range, the second rod---about $250!
                        Again, I think it depends, on the person.
                        I look at reels, the same way. I pick a reel depending on the target fish, and most important, the strength & smoothness of the drag. Other than the drag features, what does the reel really do---holds line!
                        I buy, what I can afford, and will always look at the no-names for quality & value.



                        • #13
                          G Smolt very well put and Dan your points are valid. Great Thread!

                          Yepper the old Eagle Claw I am dating my-self. Funny thing is I have a couple of custom Cane rods I fish once a year that were made for me back in the day as a promise to the rod maker. I actaully enjoy those the most! Tuff bringing them out and fishing them in AK for any length of time as related to the weather conditions and not wishing to break them over a stupid reason i.e. falling, fending off a bear, etc.....

                          I do agree that most higher end rods for the most part will make fishing long days over the course of the summer tend to lean towards more forgiving muscle usage i.e. your not dragging arm ars by the end of the day and season if you do drop some extra bucks and upgrade however most people don't fish 16 hour days and 120 per year in AK.


                          • #14
                            The first thing I noticed when I got my first high end rod was the ability to punch a tight loop into a head wind.
                            The day my new to me Sage RPL 5wt showed up in the mail I riged it up and went down to my pond to see how it cast.
                            I tied on a bead eyed black woolly bugger and started casting and was amazed how effortless it seemed to be.
                            Where I was casting from was right into a 30+ MPH headwind. I kept letting out line and lenghening my cast until I had the whole fly line in the air and could drop my cast exactly where I wanted to.
                            I was sold right then and there that the extra $$$ was worth every penny.

                            I'm now the proud owner of a whole stable of high end Sage flyrods and I managed to get good deals on every one of them by making some good deals on ebay. Two of my rods I purchased for close to 40% off and they were brand new at the time.

                            You can have a high end stick for a mid range price if you do some shopping and deal snooping.

                            Bill K
                            Most likely the reason you found the cheaper rod easier to cast than the expensive one was due to it's action. My guess is the expensive one was much stiffer and had a much faster action than the lower priced one that was most likely a slower more moderate action.
                            Making the switch from a slower to a faster actioned rod takes a little getting used to but when you do you will be able to cast further, with a tighter loop and more accurately with less effort. The big difference is adjusting your timing.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DRIFTER_016 View Post
                              I'm now the proud owner of a whole stable of high end Sage flyrods and I managed to get good deals on every one of them by making some good deals on ebay. Two of my rods I purchased for close to 40% off and they were brand new at the time.

                              You can have a high end stick for a mid range price if you do some shopping and deal snooping.


                              Yep. Just last night I picked up another 9' 7wt to flank my recently purchased St Croix Bankrobber. Found a Scott X2S ($700 rod) for $410 on Red Truck Fly Fishing (Leland). While not a cheap pick up in a literal sense, $300 saved is nothing to take lightly. This is consistent with how I got most my nicer rods. For anyone interested, they got a few left, 6 wt, 7 wt, 8 wt, 10 wt, and 12 wt.


                              The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


                              Footer Adsense