Best weight rod for South Fork of the Snoqualmie?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by JasonG, May 19, 2013.

  1. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    You're exactly right that most manufacturers only offer a full-on warranty to the original purchaser. If a warranty is an important consideration, then buying a new rod is the best way to obtain that coverage at minimal expense. But I think there's a larger issue regarding warranties that's worth revisiting.

    In most consumer products, a warranty is intended to cover the buyer against loss resulting from defects in materials or manufacturing. If you think of a new car, its warranty is intended to protect the buyer against the expense associated with, say, a premature blown head gasket or a broken transmission.

    In the case of new graphite fly rods however, by far the vast majority of warranty claims aren't for failure due to manufacturing or materials, but rather due to negligence on the part of the owner. A sales rep at a local rod manufacturer once told me that fully 75% of their warranty repairs or replacements are due to rods that were crushed, most likely in a car door or trunk lid, or stepped on.

    To look back at the new car warranty example above, can you imagine if 3 out of every 4 warranty claims for a new Ford or Toyota were for 'premature fender failure'? But instead of the fender spontaneously breaking due to poor manufacturing or material quality, it was because the owner drove his new car into a phone pole or worse.

    We all know there's no auto maker in the world that would honor a claim like that. But why do fly rod manufacturers? There's no question why that customers love those unconditional warranties, since their negligence is basically rewarded instead of punished.

    Besides failing to instill personal responsibility in fly rod owners, the larger problem with rod warranties is that the cost of replacing 'defective' fly rods is baked into the price of every new rod and is born by every person who buys one.

    I have over a dozen bamboo rods, almost all of which are decades old made by manufacturers who are either dead or have long been out of business. I have 5 graphite rods, only one of which was bought new and has a warranty. None of my vintage fiberglass rods have a warranty. Since nearly all my rods are thus irreplaceable, I'm exceedingly careful with every one of them.

    Sure, I'll probably eventually break one at some point and feel really badly about it. But I'll probably be looking right at the cause in my bathroom mirror when I shave every morning and I'll end up absorbing the cost of the repair myself instead of leaning on the artificial crutch of a manufacturer's warranty.

    K
     
  2. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    Kent's analogy with car warranties seems like a compelling one, but I think it resonates only because car warranties are so commonly encountered. There are many different ways that warranties are constructed and offered to the public. Just as there are different ways that retailers handle returns; think of Nordstrom's or REI, for example (Kent related a funny example of returning jack stands to Nordstrom's in another thread).

    The bottom line for warranties is that they are customer enticements. Kia didn't offer the best auto warranty of any manufacturer when they first appeared in the US market because they were confident that their product was that much more reliable than Toyota, Ford, or Mercedes, they offered that warranty as a selling point to buy into a competitive market and try to convince potential buyers that their cars were reliable.

    Warranties on fly rods should be viewed in this way. Yes, the cost of replacing the rod that I broke when I slipped on a rock on the Gallatin while trying to walk the bank and watch the river at the same time cost Sage a $400 rod, but that is one of the reasons they sell so many rods to so many satisfied customers. There is now an expectation built into the business, which will make it hard for any reputable manufacturer to get out of the unconditional warranty game. Personally, I prefer it that way.
     
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  3. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Good memory on the Nordstrom example Dick. I had an account executive on my ad agency team once who had been a star salesperson at Nordstrom. She told me of many examples of folks taking advantage of Nordstroms legendary warranty by 'returning' items like homemade dresses or jack stands that they swore they had received as gifts from someone who bought them at Nordy's. Another great point of abuse were women who would buy a high end designer dress at Nordstrom, wear it to a special event for the evening, then return it the next day, smelling of perfume or perspiration.

    You're dead right that a warranty can be a tactic employed as an enticement to purchase with little risk, especially by new brands eager to carve out market share. It's worth noting though that Nordstrom long ago tightened up their warranty return policies. I guess that means they either figured out how much it actually cost them or that they don't need to buy share any longer.

    Either way, it looks like I'm stuck with those jack stands!

    K
     
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  4. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

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  5. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover

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    I recently talked to a newly retired salesperson from Nordstrom that logged many years with them in sales and finished as a trainer. She reported that they now actively try to identify those who are abusing their warranty programs such as you describe above. You can probably get by on it a couple times without them saying anything but they'll eventually call you on it. But at the same time, she was very encouraging for my wife to return a pair of rain boots which split and leaked within a short period of time after purchase when my wife felt a little hesitant in doing so. She said the company definitely wants reports of how durable their items are as it could result in a supplier being dropped or at least start a dialogue in quality control with the manufacturer.

    Separately, I think most know I fish budget stuff and buy old glass rods. I'll report that the warranty program at the low end is alive and well too. I had two Eagle Claw Graphite rods that had problems in the first year (warranty period) I had them. In both cases, they replaced each rod without question. Not bad for sub-$40 purchases.
     
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  6. Gary Knowels

    Gary Knowels Active Member

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    This thread is a goldmine! I started with a 9' 5weight CT on the Sno Forks as that was the only rod that I had. Then I picked up the 8' 3 weight CT and used that and had a blast, much preferring the lighter line weight although at times it was a pain in the butt when trying to throw something heavy enough to get down into some of the faster, deeper slots. Now I'm building a 6'6" 3 weight glass rod that I think will be just the ticket for the short casts to small fish. I also have a 7'6" 5 weight glass rod from the 60's that I've used when I was throwing heavier nymph rigs in faster water. I'm becoming a big fan of fiberglass rods and am moving toward using them more often, while still using and enjoying lighter graphite sticks on these small waters.

    In regards to warranties, I haven't used one for a rod yet, but I did have a problem with a reel that was taken care of no questions asked. I like the insurance that even if I break a piece of equipment doing something stupid, I already paid the price to get a replacement up front. That is a big part of the reason that I own a couple Redington rods, but now I am moving toward building all the rods I fish and only the blank would be under warranty and I would expect only for material defects.
     
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  7. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

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    My favorite rod for the upper south fork is my 6 1/2' 2-weight Orvis Superfine (1 ounce). Despite it being graphite, it's very soft - full-flex - all the way down by the grip. I've landed up to 20" browns on a spring creek on that rod... fun for small fish, and the strength to handle big ones.

    Closer to town, below Twin Falls, I fish my 8 1/2' 5 weight so I can fire longer casts.
     
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  8. Greg Price

    Greg Price Love da little fishies

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    I have used 2, 4 and 6 weights on the SF over the years. I always fish small, light dry flies, so anything more than a 2 weight is overkill for me.

    My go to rod for the upper reaches of the SF is an Echo Carbon 7'3" #2 line. http://www.echoflyfishing.com/html/rod_category_details.php?category_id=2&page_id=14&product_type=1

    I love this rod. It is relativity cheap, is lightwieght and makes the little 4" to 6" cutties feel like monsters. It is a short rod, so I can cast in the small, side channels full of brush more easily than my 9 ft rods.

    Best of all, the importer is in Vancouver, WA and stands behind the Warranty. I broke the tip off by trying to force an Elk Hair caddis out of a limb. It was totally my fault, I called Echo and told them the truth. They charged a minimal fee - I remember it being less than $30.00. My dad delivered the rod to the Vancouver WA shop, I had my repaired rod back at my home in Puyallup within 3 days as Echo must have shipped it right away. THis was in the middle of summer which must be the Echo's most busy season.
     
  9. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier Trout Hunter

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    For 85% of my SF or MF fishing I use a Sage 8' 9", 3wt LL that I have had for years. However late in the season last year I picked up an Orvis 7' 6", 3wt full flex, Superfine Touch that is a very sweet little rod and will likely see a good bit of fishing time on the Snoqualmie for year to come.
     
  10. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

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    Nice. The superfine series are sweet little rods. The only issue I've had is the tip riding up the ferule a bit while casting which caused the graphite to shatter at the ferule. I'm on my 3rd one as a result, but Orvis was great about replacing them. These days I'm just careful to nose-grease it before seating it, and paranoid enough to watch it. The first time it happened was way down a stretch of private land on Flint Creek and it was probably a mile back to the truck, so I kept casting my dry fly using just the tip of the rod.
     
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  11. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier Trout Hunter

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    Wow that is crazy! I have only had mine out 4-5 times so far with no issues but I will keep an eye on it, thanks for the heads up.
     
  12. Kim McDonald

    Kim McDonald member

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    Ditto what Kent and others said about shorter rods and buying used. Scour the classifieds here and eBay. One of my most favorite rods was given to me by a friend who totally converted to bamboo, so I ended up with a custom made 7'6" 4 weight then put on a nice little Hardy reel. Loved that rod until the tip broke and I couldn't get Loomis to replace (Loomis was the rod blank). I bought a used Superfine (Orvis) 4 weight to replace it and absolutely love it. I only use 9' rods on really large rivers (S. F. Snoqualmie isn't large by Western standards, IMO) and thoroughly enjoy the shorter rods and slower action on smaller rivers and streams.

    Kim
     
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  13. fly-by

    fly-by Active Member

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    Don't overlook the 80's era Superfines - the "named" ones with unsanded blanks such as the Far and Fine, Ultrafine, Flea, Tippet, Brook Trout, etc.. Can be purchased reasonably and have a bit of a cult following like the Sage LLs.
     
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  14. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    IMHO the 80's era Orvis Graphite Superfine series are some of the nicest casting graphite rods ever made. For that matter a number of other Orvis 70's & 80's era Orvis rods fall into that category.

    FYI - The Orvis unconditional guarantee does not cover rods over 25 yrs old. I found this out the hard way. They do offer repairs at very reasonable cost as well as an upgrade path also at very reasonable cost but free replacement of the same model is out of the picture if your rod predates the institution of the guarantee.

    TC
     
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