Jan 21, 2015

Get Started in Fly Fishing - Chapter Two - Fly Rods

The look on your face when you get a new rod

The fun begins with your first purchase. You're ready to buy a fly rod. Most will experience one of three possible scenarios.

1) You find yourself in a large outdoor chain store with plenty of things to buy but no help to see you through a good decision.

2) You find yourself in a upscale fly shop where the sales staff proceeds to make you feel inferior and unworthy of the sport.

3) You come across a yard sale or hand me down rod that is always the best ever according to the previous owner. Trust me. Its rare to find any worth $$$ in a yard sale. I know because I look for them.

I didn't intend to start off this article sounding cynical but I bet if many of you would comment with your stories many of them would match one of these three descriptions.

Too Many Choices

Too Many Choices

Lets start with import or USA built.We can discuss this subject from many different angles - here's the facts

USA Built 

Pros - The best fly rods are built in USA. All USA built fly rods are hand crafted. Most if not all USA built rods come with some kind of lifetime warranty. Most have good resale value.
Cons - Expensive! Cost of USA manufacturing, research and development, advanced materials technology that makes these rods the best come at a high price.
Summary - If you become passionate about fly fishing you will own USA built fly rods. What comes with these rods is a sense of pride. Hard to have that feeling for something imported from an overseas factory. I have had the pleasure of visiting many USA rod manufacturer facilities. I like knowing that the hands that built my rods also are as passionate about fishing as I am. Its a feeling you cannot put a price on.

Imported fly rods

Pros - Value per dollar. Good entry level options. Some have lifetime warranty (although you may end up with a different rod than what you started with). Also some very good quality rods for much less than USA built price.
Cons - Hard to tell good from bad. Here today and gone tomorrow.
Summary - There is some really good import rods on the market and they catch fish just like a USA built rods. But the import business tends to flood the market and makes it hard to sift through whats Great, Good, OK or just plain cheap rods. Resale value of imports is weak and often times you can't give them away. I also notice that many come with catchy names to help sell them but not a good description of what the action is, so often you find someone purchased a rod only to find out it is a poor fit for their casting ability or the fishing they are doing.

Premium Picks - 

Sage One

Winston BIIIx

All of these rods are beautiful and powerful tools for fishing. Each has great power coupled with very intuitive feeling that will help any angler progress down the path of good casting. Excellent resale value and the industry leading warranty service also add to their value. I should note here that rods like these hold their place in history for years to come.

Mid Line Winners - 

G. Loomis Pro4x
Winston Nexus

Echo 3

These models range in price from about $300 to $595. Winston, G. Loomis and Sage are built in USA. All have lifetime warranty. All of these rods offer excellent performance and value. They could go with you on a lifetime of fishing and you would enjoy them for years to come.

Entry Level Values - Imports

Redington Classic Trout
Echo Solo

Redington Crosswater

Classic Trout and Solo offer lifetime warranty. One year on the Crosswater. I am real fond of the Classic Trout. Its a moderate action easy to cast really good trout rod for the price. The Echo Solo is also a good choice and at $119 with lifetime warranty its hard to beat.

Outfit Options

An outfit is an easy way to get Rod, Reel and Line all in one purchase. 

Sage Approach Outfits

Redington Minnow 
Made for Kids-Loved by Adults

Redington Topo Outfit - Complete ready to fish

Echo Solo Outfit - Great Value

Two Hand (Spey) Rod Choices

No reason one has to start out with a single hand fly rod. If you live in steelhead country just go ahead and jump to a two hand. I've seen too many beginners get a single hand 8wt only to come back in a month and say I want a two hand rod. I think two hand casting is harder to learn on your own but with a good instructor like Tom Larimer of Jeff Hickman you will soon be on your way to fishing success! Learning single hand casting first is not a prerequisite. The rods I choose are all pretty moderate action and not only do they fit beginners well they are also a great action for skagit style two hand casting.

Winston Boron III TH
G.Loomis Pro4x
Sage ACCEL Two Hand

Redington Dually

Echo Dec Hogan II

Sum it up

A popular quote around the fly shop is "if you don't want to buy a more expensive rod than don't cast a more expensive rod." Even a person just starting out with some basic casting skills can feel the difference from these different levels of rods. That doesn't mean they catch more fish, they just cast better and make you feel like a hero. I know plenty of anglers that catch plenty of fish on $89 Crosswater rods. This works on the premise that if you want to catch fish you will use what you got! Spending more on a rod doesn't guarantee you more fish. What I can almost certainly guarantee is if you embrace to sport of fly fishing you will own premium USA built fly rods. It's inevitable!

The way I weigh the options is in one of three choices - 

Buy Top Shelf- You work hard for your money and when you have time off you deserve to enjoy it. Great pride comes with the best rods and you find yourself taking great pride in your fishing. Long after your gone when your grand kids find your fly rod hidden among your treasures they'll know how much it meant to you by the way you took care of it.

Buy middle of the road knowing that you'll get a great rod you can own a lifetime or maybe it will be the first and last rod you buy. I know anglers that only fish their home waters. They usually will fish a dry fly if fish are raising and if not they switch to a nymph rig. One rod can do both methods therefore they only need one rod. They only fish a few days a year and enjoy it as much as anyone. Some of today's mid line rods are a recent yesterdays premium rod.

Buy cheap now knowing that you'll upgrade in the future - Its nice to have a cheapy around for yard casting or letting your buddy or kid have a swing...Hard to hand over your several hundred dollar investment and watch a novice thrash it.

Don't fret over making a wrong choice. There are no wrong choices just future choices and Gorge Fly Shop will be here to help you make that choice whether you buy one or a hundred rods. 

Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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