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 Rods, Mystic Fly Rods, Cabela's CGT Rods, Rise 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 Poles, Swift Fly Fishing, Blue Halo, Southern Appalachian Rod Company, South Fork Rod Company, Gray Wolf Rods, Leiderman 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.