With any part of fly fishing, there is a spectrum of costs associated. There are cheap options and costly options, whether rods, reels, flies, or accessories. When is spending more money worth it?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to value because it is partly subjective. Today, we will break down what goes into a purchasing decision and what extent quality and price line up.
So, are expensive fly rods worth the money?
Expensive fly rods can be worth the money, within reason. A $200 rod is going to be better than a $30 one. However, a $2000 rod may not be that much better than that same $200 rod considering the price difference. The key is finding the sweet spot between price and quality.
What Factors Contribute To Fly Rod Price?
There are many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the price of a fly fishing rod. Some factors are more important than others, but they all matter. Here are some factors to consider when thinking about if a fly rod is worth the price.
- Main materials used
What the rod is made of determines a big part of its price. For example, fiberglass rods are usually cheaper than graphite and bamboo options. Sometimes, the price difference between the materials can be very significant.
You also have to factor in the guides and grip. Each of these is really important because they factor into your satisfaction and the rod’s overall performance.
- Length and the primary purpose
Fly fishing rods come in varying lengths. This isn’t always the case, but longer rods can be more expensive than shorter ones. This is because more material is used.
Other price changes and value also come with specified rods. You should not use a pan fishing rod to target a big steelhead. This is where the weights of the rod come into play. Larger fish require beefier and larger rods. The price will generally increase with heavier weight rods.
One of the most significant factors that contribute to the price of fly rods is the brand. A reasonably high-end brand is Sage. Their cheapest line of rod will most likely be more expensive than other brand’s most expensive rod. So, when jumping into value and price, the brand will be one of the biggest factors at play.
What Should You Be Looking For At That Price Point?
The price of fly rods can be broken down into three main categories: beginner/entry-level, mid-level, and high-end. Each one brings different values at different price points. Understanding each one will give you valuable insight as to what your money is going toward and if it is worth it to you.
Beginner & Entry-Level Rods
Everyone remembers their first fly rod, and there is a good chance that this falls under the entry-level category. Generally, the price of one of these rods will be between $30 and $150. This is a relatively large range, but your first rod usually wouldn’t be outside of this range.
There is also a value disparage amidst this category alone. A $150 rod will probably be far better than a $50 one. So, if you are serious about fly fishing and want to dive into it, staying at the upper end of the beginner level is best, if you can afford it.
These will be carbon fiber or graphite because glass is on the more expensive end of the price spectrum. These rods are excellent for those who are trying to get the technique of casting down. As you probably already know, it is a learning curve that can be difficult to master. These rods are made to be easy on you and allow some time for improvement.
Finding an entry-level rod that is worth the money is not super difficult. It can be easy to tell the quality of the rod compared to the price it sits at.
If you are looking at fly fishing as just a casual thing you may do a few times a year, there is no need to go any higher than the $150 price point. If you want to take on fly fishing as an activity that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, this is an excellent starting point, but your skills will pass the rod’s capabilities at some point.
Some examples of great entry-level fly rods include:
This is the point when you are looking to upgrade. You are a little more serious about fly fishing and know a lot more of the jargon and technique required to be successful. You probably have improved your casting ability past your rod’s capability and are looking for a reliable option that can last many years.
Picking up where the beginner rods left off, mid-level rods are generally between $150 and $500. You are moving out of the middle tier and into one of the others any more or any less.
This is also the point where rods can start to be “expensive.” This idea is subjective, but $400 for a rod can reasonably be considered expensive.
Like the entry-level section, the midrange rod market does have a disparage of quality, but it may not be as extreme. When checking out two rods, one is $30, and one is $150. You can tell the difference. The same goes for two rods at $175 and $400. However, this difference is not going to be as blatantly obvious as with the entry rods.
Because that disparage is somewhat hidden, the buying process can be very overwhelming. Without a lot of research and background knowledge, you aren’t expected to know what is the best bang for your buck.
Advances in technology have allowed for so many manufacturers to produce rods and throw any price point on them they want. This is why things get tricky.
As a general rule, sticking to the tried and true brands is best. Because of the internet, anyone can manufacture, market, and sell rods. Sticking to brands that are proven to be good and deliver quality is the way to go.
However, those technological advancements aren’t always bad. They also make excellent rods cheaper. Because companies can manufacture large amounts for less money, you pay less money for them. This is why a $200 rod can be the last model you ever buy because you are in love with it.
Some examples of some excellent mid-level rods are:
Finally, we have arrived at the high-end rod section. This starts where the middle tier left off at $500 and has no endpoint. The sky’s the limit when money is not an option.
This section is reserved for the professionals and the wealthy. There aren’t too many reasons that the Average Joe should shell out $1200 on a single fly rod unless money is relatively disposable, or they have a specific use in mind that makes it worth it.
The real question is, “is it worth it?” In short, the answer is maybe. There is no doubt that high-end rods bring a ton of value and are exquisitely made. However, four figures for a single rod is an extremely serious commitment, one that probably isn’t worth it to you.
These are usually made of glass or bamboo, so the rod’s quality and longevity is there. To that point, these rods will at least last a long time and probably become your favorite piece of fly fishing equipment.
Another big perk of a high-end rod is the technological appeal. Generally, new technology advances are expensive to start until they can be manufactured more cheaply. In some cases, it never gets cheaper. So, if shelling out serious money isn’t a worry for you, this is the tier of fly rods you may live in.
Some examples of great high-end fly rods are:
Expensive fly rods are worth the money to a reasonable extent. Buying a $2500 rod just because it is costly and has a great brand isn’t usually smart. It won’t automatically make you catch more trout. The real value will come into play from the upper end of the beginner tier and the lower end of the high-end tier.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what you can afford, the value you see in a specific rod, and buying one that will ultimately make you happy. If you were weighing a decision between a very high-end rod vs. a fantastic fly fishing trip, buy a more moderate rod and take a fantastic trip.
If your looking for some possible fantastic trips, take a look at some of these articles.