Largemouth Bass Lineup

Largemouth Bass Lineup

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Am Disgusted

I apologize in advance but this is going to be a rant.  Yes I will be getting up on my soap box.  Yes I will be flailing my arms and possibly using bad language.  So sit down and buckle up for a bumpy ride.  I want to spend some time talking about fly rods.  I am not going to talk about any old fly rods but those fly rods that are overpriced in my humble opinion.

As most of you know, I will be heading to Beaver Island in July to chase smallmouth and carp on the fly rod.  In an effort to gear up for this trip I have been looking at buying a new rod or three.  The biggest rod I have now is a 6wt (I need an 8 and/or a 9 wt at least for this trip).  It is a Cabela's Custom Glass Rod I picked up last year for like sixty dollars.  I love it.  Funny how the Waterworks-Lamson Konic reel I use with this rod actually cost more than the rod itself.  Thanks to Cameron over at T.F.M. I have really turned into a glass geek.  However, that is not the point of the story here.  The point here is that the rod was sixty dollars and I love it.  I don't just love it because it is glass either.  It is a great rod that I got at a great price.  Over the course of my twenty year fly fishing adventure I have picked up a few rods here and there.  None of them, I repeat none of them, cost more than one hundred and seventy-nine dollars.  I own three Cortland rods, a St. Croix, two Eagle Claw Featherlights, a Cablea's rod, and two Cabela's CGRs.  I admit it, I don't own a lot of rods.  I might not know much about rods either.  I will further state that I don't own a rod from any of the really big manufacturers such as Orvis, Sage, Scott, or Thomas and Thomas to name but a few.  I can honestly say now that I am OK with that.  Would I love to have an Orvis or a Sage....yep.  Will I ever...nope.  See the reason is and the point of this rant, is the price of those rods.

I got my Orvis catalog in the mail a few weeks back.  As always, I flipped through it immediately.  This time, I paid a little more attention to the rods and prices since I am in the market for a new one.  I have to say while I always "knew" the prices, I never really "knew" the prices.  I guess one doesn't really pay attention to a price tag until one has to fork out money for something.  Then that price tag becomes ever so important.  In the January/February 2013 issue of American Angler, Gear of the Year for 2013 is discussed.  Rods from Echo, G. Loomis, Orvis, Redington, Sage, Scott, Thomas and Thomas and Winston are discussed and reviewed.  There are eleven rods in the article.  Of those, only one of them is under $300, three are $400 or less (including the one under $300), and the rest are over $500.  Six of them I might add are actually over $700.  Are you freaking kidding me??  These companies in this economy want people to pay $700 for a fly rod?  That price doesn't even include the reel, line, backing, flies, waders, fly boxes, tippets, leaders etc that one needs to fly fish.  How in the world are people supposed to start enjoying this wonderful pursuit?  What happens if you aren't a doctor, lawyer, lobbyist or some other profession that allows you to bring in say six figures a year in order to be able to afford these rods?  I am really fed up with the prices of fly rods from these manufacturers.  How come the magazines never check out the more reasonable manufacturers?  They make decent rods at decent, affordable prices.  The manufacturers I am talking about are companies such as Rock River RodsMystic Fly Rods, Cabela's CGT RodsRise Fishing and Temple Fork Outfitters to name but a few. There are also rod makers and builders such as my good friend Phillip Butterfield who runs Average Joes Fishing PolesSwift Fly FishingBlue HaloSouthern Appalachian Rod CompanySouth Fork Rod CompanyGray Wolf RodsLeiderman Rods and Red Truck Fly Fishing again to name but a few.  I am dying to get a Rock River Rod, a Blue Halo blueberry or cranberry blank as well as an Epic blank from Swift Fly Fishing by the way.  Yes I know so of those companies charge around $500 or so for their rods but that is still way better than $795 for a rod and $1200 for an outfit.  Why are they priced like that?  Is it merely because that rod has Orvis, Sage, or Scott written on it?  Again, I am not saying that they aren't good rods, I am merely pointing out that the pricing is absurd and there are other alternatives (maybe even better ones).  I also believe that we now maybe paying outrageous prices for something merely because it has a name attached to it.  Owning an Orvis, Sage or Scott rod does not make you a better fisherman either.  I am not an expert but I would surmise that those rods will not make you cast any better either.  If you have a shitty technique, it will not matter what rod you use, your cast will still be shitty.

Why aren't magazines like American Angler, Eastern Fly Fishing and Fly Fisherman doing articles on these lesser known rod companies?  They need to.  We don't have to pay a ridiculous amount of money on a rod.  Besides, when does it end?  Next it will be reels, lines, thread, fly tying materials, I mean shit look what the hackle craze did to the price of hackle.  I refuse to buy hackle on ebay for $399.99 a saddle.  I mean really??  WTF??  So stand up my fellow fly fishermen (and women) to these mainstream manufacturers and check out some of these lesser known but high quality rod companies.  Who knows, maybe you will find something you like and make a purchase.  Needless to say my Orvis catalog ended up in the recycling bin.

48 comments:

  1. I hear ya brotha' preach on. I've got my eye on some rods I'll never be able to afford either. (Scott glass 6'6" 3wt. & Sage 7'10" 3/0) The trouble is... Like you apparently... I'm not pulling 6 figures a year.. Spending 695 or more on a rod is out of the question. There needs to be some sort of price adjustment or scaling so that everyday fishers can actually use the good equipment. If you're some corporate son of a b**** and youI go fly fishing once a year in some exotic place ... then you damn well better be paying that 695 a rod. But if you're somebody who goes fly fishing 100 * a year, it needs to become more affordable, hopefully most of the reviews on these rods are coming from guides or people who actually use them... not just somebody who bought a review.
    PS. I like those companies you mentioned... I have 3 TFO rods and I'd have my eye on another 1 (the .5wt)

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    1. Thanks for commenting Swamp Yankee. I have never owned a TFO rod but it does sound like people either hate them or love them and there is no in between.

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  2. Some rod prices are out there. When rod prices get over $300 I want to know a few things. Was this hand made in the U.S? If so like many of the Scott rods I can see a high price tag. Building a rod takes quite a long time. There's lots to consider, that's if you really want a rod that looks perfect from the reel seat to the eye at the end of the rod. Do you care if there's flaws in the cork, bubbles in the finish, messed up wraps along the guides. You'd be surprised at how many rods out that have these imperfections. Do they fish differently? Probably not, it's more personal preference and aesthetics. I can't really judge what places charge. If people are buying them at that price then I can't fault them for charging that much. What's sad is it turns away people like myself who can't afford to shell out $200-$700 on just a fly rod. Most of my combos have cost less than $200. That's rod, reel and line. A lot of these prices are mainly because of the "brand name." You stamp Orvis or Sage on anything and it instantly shoots up a couple hundred dollars. Keep searching the web. You can find good deals on rods that are comparable. I really like Redington and St Croix rods.

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    1. Kevin,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I havent tried a Redington yet but I do hear good things about them.

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  3. Thanks for saving me some time, Jeff, when you penned this post. I totally agree with what you have said here and could have and probably should have echoed the same over on my blog. I am a Senior Citizen on a fixed budget and there is no freaking way I can afford to invest in new rods and reels at the price they are being marketed at unless I shop wisely and prudently like you have suggested. I, personally, would love to have the selection that you currently own. Believe me, I am working on just that goal. Inexpensive, but, quality enough to enjoy this experience of fly fishing. Hail to you for such an excellent post!

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    1. Mel,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. When you can, grab yourself an Eagle Claw Featherlight to play with. They are relatively cheap and a blast with the panfish.

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  4. I've got a few really nice rods, but they came from Ebay. I think to a certain extent you get what you pay for, and I would agree that a high dollar rod won't fix an inability to cast a rod well.
    We've got a little bit of everything in our arsenal- from small independent rod makers to TFO to Redington to LL Bean to Loomis... most of it bought on Ebay.
    I say if you want a really good rod at a good price, do some Ebay shopping. I've seen a few bloggers out there who blast people for buying online... preaching all the "support your local fly shop" stuff... but if you're on a budget yourself, you can't always afford the local fly shop. I've always supported my local fly shop by buying flies, fly tying materials, tippet, books, etc.- things I can afford. I don't see anything wrong with supporting small business or individuals through the internet. I've been very satisfied with my Ebay experiences, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get more bang for their buck.

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    1. Good call Jay. Surprisingly enough, I forgot all about checking ebay. Thanks.

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  5. Amen. Bought a few cheap rods at Cabela's and White River Fly Shop. I still have a couple of demo rods I got 10 or so years ago (G.Loomis)I got cheap. I really want that $550 Sage Smallmouth rod but have yet to justify catching small to medium bass on an overpriced rod that has tremendous feel and balance, lol. I bought a $20 8 wgt. at Bass Pro a few years back and I like it because it's not as rigid as my Loomis.

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    1. I fish with a guy who also uses a White River 20 dollar rod and loves it. Thanks for reading

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  6. Wow! What a rant! If you don't know the difference between component quality, rod build quality, or never really casted a high end rod, I feel that you are quite ignorant. I also like an American made rod ie Orvis, Scott, Sage, Winston high end rods. It's the simple truth, you pay more for a better rod in most cases. They cast a hell of a lot better than any TFO rod. Find me a end rod from Redington, Mystic, Cabelas, any of the lower end rods not made in China or Korea.
    I take pride in my rods, not asain made shit.
    Also, check out the Fiberglass Fly rodders Forum and see what Cameron says about the Cabelas fiberglass rods.
    You need to do more research and better understand what you are bitching about.

    Ryan

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    1. Ryan,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my rant. I am not ignorant and find your assessment of my intelligence a tad off. I never said that the Orvis, Sage, Scott, or Winston rods weren't good rods. In fact I stated "I am merely pointing out that the pricing is absurd and there are other alternatives (maybe even better ones)." I also never stated anywhere in my rant that I haven't used one either. I have tried Orvis, Scott and Sage rods. I even stated "Would I love to have an Orvis or a Sage....yep. Will I ever...nope. See the reason is and the point of this rant, is the price of those rods." There is a saying that maybe applicable here which is "to each his own." In your comment you mention the Cabela's CGR rods and for me to check what Cameron said about it. Personally I like the rod. My rant was not about the quality of the rods but rather the price. Some people think that a higher price tag equals a better product and that you get what you pay for. In my opinion, spending more money on something doesn't always mean it is better. I have seen quite a number of items in my everyday life that worked just as well or even better than a name brand or higher priced item. I believe, and yes it is just my opinion, that at times in this sport we may be paying more for something simply because it has a name attached to it, imprinted on it or is labeled in some other fashion with the name.

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    3. I hear what you syaing MNFishhunter.There is some good stuff comming out of japan.Heard of or ever casted a kabuto?A rod hasent always have to be made in the us to be good.

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    4. A local, Matt from the Driftless Angler in Viroqua WI has a Kabuto (clear blank). Sweet rod, very expensive. He uses it, and is very cautious with it. I use a variety of rods and don't have to be paranoid about breaking them. I've benefited from Orvis, Sage, Scott, Winston, St. Croix warranties. I fish a lot, 150 to 200 days a year. My blog is a accurate record of that.
      In my experience with most of the mentioned rod makers above (mass produced Asian rods), especially TFO, they are great rods for the price, just not great rods. Cheap cork, cheap guides, cheap blanks, cheap everything. I had an experience with a BVK last year that was nothing short of amazing. Look into all of those rod makers and see where the rods are manufactured. You can't afford the high end rods, don't buy them. Complaining about these rods is not a solution to anything.

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    5. Hate to start a pissing match but Kab stands by his work and will replace a section of a blank.Yes they are expensive 210 for the blank plus it was another 200 to have it build.In no way am I worried about breaking its fiberglass and stronger lb of lb than a comparable graphite rod.

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    6. I didn't know that! Seriously thats great. I don't think Matt (Driftless Angler) knows that either. Does that work with buying them second hand? I know they are probably very rare on a second hand market, but just in case. To be honest, I will probably have one built some day soon. I would love the clear blank if there was a chance. What size and color do you have?

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    7. Ryan i have a 7ft6in 4wt white blank and it is one of or not the finest rods i have ever owned.As for the second hand market there is not that many out there.I cant speak for kab but if you did buy one on the second hand market built by him.Or another builder off his blank and it did break i am sure he would work with you.My rod was build my a friend who has build 3 rods for me now kabuto,Mcfarland, and a Steffen that is being made as we speak all of the makers offer there blanks with warrenties.My one big gripe with some of the big boys is in past days you could buy blanks and build off them saving cash and having a cool custome rod to boot.Orvis,Scott,winston and some of the others no longer offer the option of just buying blanks.Your stuck with only the factory rod route which is fine.I own rods from orvis,scott,T&T all proform well and i love them.I have to say after finding talented rod makers as Kabuto,Mcfarland,Steffen,JP Ross ect who all offer there blanks for sale i think my $750 factory rod days are over but that is just me.

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    8. I'm thinking about making the same transition as you just on the larger end of the rod spectrum, 6 thru 9 weight rods, and built with non traditional coponents. I have to investigate my options some more.
      Any suggestions?

      Also I believe Sage, St. Croix, and Scott still sell blanks and warranty them for life yet.

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    9. If you looking to go bigger 6-9 take a look at Steffen brothers fly rods.In recent years I have started fishing fiberglass rods almost all the time and really can't see my self going back.Mark at steffen brothers is one of the most talented builders/blank makers out there I have a 8'6 8-9 wt in the process of being built right now.I believe this 2 piece rod builds run 330 and 2 piece blanks go for around 135.My 8'6 8-9 is going to be my steelhead/salmon/warm water bass Muskie rod.Also check out my my friend Jp Ross at jp Ross fly rods he built my kabuto,Mcfarland and is working on the steffen.Jp is awesome to work with he also had graphite rod along with the glass.He does have kabuto blanks in stock he is charging 595 for the build(I did get the friend price....As for Scott they no longer offer blanks if they did I would jump all over and f2 already have the f series and love it.

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    10. MNfish hunter - the "it's either this or that" argument is a dud. Yes, a $40 walmart combo is impossible to cast well. Yes, a $1200 custom fly rod casts better. But let's populate that database a little further - the vast majority of fly anglers are not going to catch significantly more fish on a $600 rod than they are on a $200 rod. All that extra craftsmanship and engineering is amazing if you have the talent to unleash its potential. Most anglers (I'm talking the avid fly angler who only gets out 6 or 8 times per year, or travels once per year to fly fish somewhere else) simply don't have that refined talent.

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  7. Look into some Fenwick FFXX or Fenwick XXX series glass rods for your carp trip. I've snagged quite a few this year for under hundred dollars on Ebay. They are damn good rods, you'll notice that the first time you cast one, especially compared to the Cabela's rods.

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    1. Could not agree more A vintage fenwick would be a wonderful option.

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    2. MNFishhunter,

      What weight are your rods? I am looking for glass in an 8 or 9 wt. I like eBay but I tend to spend too much time and money on it. Shiny objects distract me easily.

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    3. Jeff,

      I run 6 thru 9 weights for Fenwicks, the last 9 wgt was $45.00 with original sock and tube. It doesn't weigh that much more than the graphite 9s I own now, very amazed at that. Great rod, and they usually a hundred dollars or less.

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    4. Ryan,

      Thanks for the info again. You want to sell it for 50 bucks? HA! You could make a cool five dollars on it. I do need glass for the trip...

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  8. Good evening, and might I add.. great rant. Your rant asks a question, and I would like to answer it for you. "why do these rods cost so much" simple, you are purchasing 2 rods at once.. all of the magnum rod builders offer amazing warranties, and they can becouse they simply charge you for the new rod that 60% of the purchasers are going to get, high modulous super fast thin walled graphite is weak, and like the "one" rods, z-axis and most of the gloomis rods you WILL break the tip or worse. These companies make their living off "closet" rods that don't get used, and then sold voiding the warranty. Guys like me who make them do 3,4 or even 5 repairs or replacements don't hurt them becouse they found a way to use the sell a rod for the price of 3 equazion. Simms and Patagonia waders work off the exact same business plan. These products are all worth the money if you use and abuse your gear, becouse you will get repairs or new gear when warranted. Good fishin, Brad

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    1. Brad,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Interesting point of view. Since I only fished like 21 days last year (full time job is a real drag) I can see how those warranties would not apply to me per se. I did send my Cortland 3wt back (had it for 20 years) and it was fixed for a second time. Always nice to have your fishing buddy break the tip off for ya while you are in another state on vacation and your other rod has already broken.

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    2. Fish Tales - that's actually pretty fascinating. Had never thought of it that way.

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  9. Funny...a related debate took place on the fly fishing forums that I frequent about the Abel Nippers at $50.

    To me the thought of paying $50 for nippers is absolutely asinine - that apparently offends a few people; oh well.

    To me it's just another classic example of an overpriced product that is part of fly fishing.

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    1. Ha ha ha. Funny debate but so true. Thanks for sharing Brookfield Angler!

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    2. I just picked up a pair of nippers for this year's tackle bag at Harbor Freight for 99 cents. Last pair was purchased for $30 on sale and they rusted through in 60 days.

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  10. J
    I learned long time ago when it comes to buying fishing equipment it is all about MONEY for the big fishing companies. The big fly rod companies can make a bundle of money off those high end fly rods and could care less about the little fly rod company or the individual who is on a budget like me and you. They know they can get the bucks because there are lots of individuals out there that will pay their price of 700.00 for a fly rod and never look back---by the way that group falls in the 2% category, the rest of us 98% have to live on a budget or at least try---but that is another story, back to fly rods---I never buy a fly reel or fly rod unless I do an extensive search on the net for bargains, and that also includes Ebay. One of my best finds in a long time was the Redington fly rods I found for 75.00 on Cabelas recently. If you didn’t see the post take a look. http://btrussell-fishingthroughlife.blogspot.com/2012/11/fantastic-deal-on-redington-fly-rods.html Sorry to say the inflated prices want change and will only get worse, so my advice is to continue to shop wisely. Thanks for letting us all vent our frustration

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    1. Bill,

      Thanks for the info. I have never cast a Redington Rod. I assume you like it? I worry about spending money (any amount) on something I won't like. I have already done that enough in my life.

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    2. I have a low end and mid grade Redington and they are OK. Got both at great prices on Sierra Trading Post a few years back. Glad I own them, glad I didn't pay full price.

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  11. What size rods are you thinking for the trip?
    For what its worth St. Croix has some of their flyrods at half price on their website, Legend Ultras for less than $200.00. Discontinued models, some of the sizes would be perfect for your quarry. Great warranties and made in Park Falls WI.

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    1. Ryan,

      I would like to have both an 8 and a 9 weight. That really depends on money though. I also would love to throw glass as this is sponsored by Cameron. I am really leaning towards the Rock River Rod for my 8wt as I like the look of it. I bought a St. Croix many years ago (dont know which one it is) and hated it. Maybe I will revisit them again.

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  12. TFO rods are fantastic, I've met with the owner and President before, and are both great people. THe rods are fairly priced, and they have a lifetime warranty, that is really easy. I'm building a 9' 6wt BVK rod now, it's a 250 dollar rod, but you can build it for $100. And, ebay dude, I scored a St. Croix AVID and Cabelas WLX Reel for $190, its a 550 dollar combo. Only fished once, it looks brand new, and casts great. TFO rocks, I don't know anybody who doesn't like them. And come to the PVFF meeting sometime when work doesn't get in the way.

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    1. I strongly respectfully beg do differ with you on the TFO rods, I have 7 friends I have converted to echo from that camp.. echo rods far surpass the TFO rods, 4 guides and 2 fly shops just on the Kenai Peninsula dumped the TFO lefty Krey line do to very poor performance... For carp and on the tryin to save a dime I would go with a saint croix in a 7 wt, there are very few fresh water fish that need an 8wt. I liked your blog Devin, you look like a talented guy-

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    2. Devin,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have heard mixed reviews about TFO rods. The reviews are funny as they seem to be either from people who really love them or really hate them. I am direct on eBay and will start checking there again. I just tend to spend too much time and money once I get on it. I know I need to join PVFF. It is on my list of things to do. We need to chase some brookies soon.

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  13. I enjoyed your post and I feel your pain. It got me to thinking a bit more about why we have $800 fly rods and I just had to follow up with a post of my own at http://mysticwaters.com/blog/2013/01/30/fly-rods-for-sale/
    Tight Lines!

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    1. Fred,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I read this soon after you posted it and headed over to your blog to read it. Going back now to comment.

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  14. Love my redington pursuit. Light in the hand for all day fishing. I know they are listed as fast action but its really more moderate fast. I have the 10 ft 7 at for Ontario chromers 100 bucks for the 2 piece models or 120 for a 4 piece. Lifetime guarantee as well. I just modified a 8 ft EC feather lite into a switch rod and love it, with the rod cost me 60 bucks, T.F.M has the DIY video from untaimed outdoors.

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    1. JLagasse713,

      I also have not one but two EC Featherlights. Man they are a great rod aren't they? For the money, you can't beat them. They get a work out with the panfish here. I have managed a few smallies on mine as well. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  15. I'm with you all the way. Those big companies pay those magazines huge amounts of money abd in truth keep them going, it's the only reason they push them so hard.

    The shops are also at blame, and should act more responsible in telling people thay don't have to pay premium amounts to catch fish.

    I'm with you, some cheaper rods really do perform really well.

    Great post.

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    1. Thanks Richard for reading and commenting.

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  16. I have 19 Sage rods and they are worth every penny. Been buying Sage rods for the last 22 years and will buy plenty more. Ever wonder why a $10 steak tastes like a $10 steak and a $60 steak does not taste like a $10 steak...because there IS A DIFFERENCE...you get what you pay for.

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  17. My opinion, as someone who enjoys fly fishing but does not live or die by it, is that a large percentage of fly anglers and manufacturers DO NOT WANT MORE PEOPLE IN THE SPORT. It has always been an exclusive sport, and there is mixed-at best- interest in making it less so. Let's be clear about that.

    To the comment above mine, I say, malarkey on that. Very, very, very few anglers (of any style) are so talented that their perfomance in the water is limited by the performance of a $200 fly rod. I mean VERY few. Same argument is made about guns, and I've watched a guy with a $200 Mossberg shoot a bird at 30 yards that a guy with a $25,000 Perazzi missed at 10 yards.

    I fish between 60-90 days a year. The idea that you or I will become a better angler with a $700 rod and a $600 reel is complete foolishness unless you are one of the few who spends 200+ days on the water per year, at minimum. Want to fish better? Learn better casting. Spend more days afield. Travel farther, to more remote waters. Become more patient.

    But I can tell you right now that I catch as many - or more - fish than the average angler on my $150 cabelas fly rod paired with a mid-grade Redington reel and $30 fly line.

    All that gear - and I ***LOVE*** buying gear - is meant to catch one thing, my friends - and that's YOU (and me).

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