Buying a fly rod in 2013
Today’s fly rod market offers more choices than ever before. Is that
a good thing? If we know how to choose wisely, it’s good, otherwise not. So how do we make a wise choice?
First we must select a line size best suited to casting the flies we’ll
be using. For example, a 5-wt line or lighter will best present small flies to small fish while providing thrills in playing
the fish. This lightweight gear is best suited to small or calm waters. An 8-wt line or heavier is best for larger flies on
big water, especially under windy conditions. This enables us to select a rod designed to perform optimally casting the line
weight we’ve chosen.
Next we must
choose between single and double handed rods. Single handed rods are shorter, 6 – 10 ft, best for most fishing, especially
for fishing small streams and for casting dry flies. Longer double handers are becoming popular for old-timers because of
their ease of casting, for younger anglers who want longer casts, and for the Spey casting that, like a roll cast, stays clear
of the trees behind us. A compromise, the increasingly popular switch rod, usually 10 – 11 ft. and available for 5 –
8 wt. lines, can be used for any single or double hand cast, so is the most flexible.
Another choice is whether we want a 2-piece or 4-piece rod, the latter becoming by far the
most popular for ease of transport. A 4-piece rod can be used like a 2-piece also, so it’s more flexible.
Next we compare the rods fitting our criteria in the marketplace. We need
to consider factors like country of origin, performance, quality, rod fittings, weight, appearance, materials and methods
of construction, customer service, and price.
we’ve narrowed our choice to a few rods, we should field test them. Rod feel and performance are highly personal, and
mail order rods may not suit us. Any good fly shop will let us test the rod before purchase, or offer to refund our purchase
within a limited time if we are not satisfied.
we should check out the maker’s customer service reputation. I used to sell Okuma fly rods that were made in Asia and
came with a limited lifetime warranty, but I soon discovered that Okuma’s distributor, Serge Boulard Inc., refused to
replace broken rods in most cases. A batch of Okumas I received also had incorrect guide spacing, a quality issue. When we
think about it, cheap prices include nothing for customer service, so nothing is what we get!
Instead, I suggest buying reputable premium brands. As always, we tend to get what we pay
for. Most premium rodmakers have series of rods in competitive price ranges, often costing little more than Asian imports.
Canada charges a 15% import duty on products originating in Asian countries like China. That tends to make Asian import prices
competitive with North American made products.
find that many rod buyers fail to consider the importance of good customer service until a rod breaks. Customer service is
very important to a fly shop’s sales and customer loyalty, so I decided to survey the fly rod marketplace to see what
premium fly rod makers offer in customer service.