High Dollar vs. Less Dollar Rods

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Matt Paluch, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. Steven Mobley

    Steven Mobley Member

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    Wow! What a thread. Think I'll jump in and give my two cents. The more exspensive rods are usually better built. As someone who has built a few rods, I can assure you they are not all equall. Many of the cheaper rods made today are wrapped incorrectly. A rod has a "back bone" which must be alligned with the guides correctly. If not, the rod will not cast to its full potential. Multi-piece rods are even more difficult to allign and I doubt it is even considered by the folks building the rods due to the amount of additional time it takes. You may or may not notice the difference. From my observations, most of the sub $100 rods made overseas were not wrapped right.

    I avoid paying the high prices for the better known brands by purchasing used rods. It's amazing what you can get for less than $300 in a used rod. I've got Winstons, Loomis, Scotts, Sages and Powells. These rods all sold new for more than $550. For a specialty rod like a 2wt, I am buying a TFO for $99.

    Rather than arguing about the differences between expensive rods and their cheaper brothers, what do folks think about the HUGE differences in price/quality for fly reels? Most of the time the dang thing only holds the line for crying out loud! Except for salmon or steelhead, I've never had much use for a "smooth" drag. But danged if I don't have a whole bag full of reels whose manufacturers claims to have the smoothest drag around. Probably could have saved a lot of money and went with some pflueger medalists, instead of the JRyalls, Abels, Ross, Powells and Hardys. Sorry if I come off as elitist by listing these brand name "high dollar" reels and rods, but as I already stated, I buy a lot of used stuff and did not pay retail for them. I'm really very frugal, mostly due to my wife.
     
  2. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

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    I know that at least in the case of G. Loomis, their fly rods under a ten weight are not wrapped on the physical spine. The reason being that their customers are more interested in the rod "looking straight" than in the performance benefits of building it on the physical spine. Therefore, they wrap it on the sweep created in the cooking process in order to let the weight of the guides correct the sweep. They only wrap the 10 and over now on the physical spine because of complaints that bigger fish were causing the rods to twist (basically jumping over to the physical spine).
     
  3. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    For whatever reason this just stuck in my craw. It seems that there are lots of misconceptions regarding rod building, and this is one that keeps getting propogated. The idea that you must build along the spine is just patently wrong. Sorry, but spines are never straight along an axis due to how the cloth is wrapped and cut to fit on the mandrel. Spine finding techinques tend to find a *single* point where the blank is slightly stronger, but it cannot account for the change along the wrap, nor does it account for the dynamic portion of the rod bending. Furthermore, there is NO WAY that spine contribues to a rod trying to jump over or not. If the guides are on top it is the natural tendency of force being applied to try to go to the bottom.

    Lots of folks won't believe me, but that's okay. If you want to get the skinny from the horses mouth please go to www.rodbuilding.org and read for yourself. Several rod builders and industry reps will be happy to repeat the same info.

    Oh, and Flyborg, I'm not picking on you, but this is the third time this week that I've seen this, and your comment happend to be the straw that broke the camels back :hmmm:

    -- Cheers
    -- James
     
  4. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

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    James, in the 5+ years I worked at Loomis, I was taught differently. Steve Rajeff even told me that he had his competition rods built specifically on the most identifiable single spine. Things may have changed since then. At the time, the concept of a physical spine was largely muddled by crap marketing and a lot of misconceptions, but that fact remains that there was a single leading straight edge of material first attached to the mandrel, which is the spine. This is then followed by numerous smaller angled tags that tend to make finding the physical spine difficult post baking, but enough pressure always gives way to the physical spine. I'm sure if you called Loomis today and asked them if their heaviest salt rods are built along the physical spine, they will say yes.
     
  5. Davy

    Davy Active Member

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    I did not read this whole thread, not enough time, and maybe it was mentioned somewhere in this mess, but here is a thought I had. Someone mentioned that for every 10 lower priced rods returned that 1 high priced one is returned for warranty repair. I think though that the average high end rod buyer, and I repeat "average" , fishes less and probably as a result stand a lower chance of breaking said rod. Sure they go to the best places, hire the best guides, and can afford anything, but the "average" lower cost buyer may fish every weekend and few days in between locally with a few longer trips thrown in. Just my thought and I may have drank too much single malt before I had that thought....... forget the "may have".
     
  6. Steven Mobley

    Steven Mobley Member

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    James,

    I was only giving my two cents worth on the differences between high end and some budget rods. I'm not posting any BS. I'm sure if you ask any custom rod builder, they'll agree with what I posted. As far as Loomis (or any other high end rodmaker) not alligning the guides along the spine, I believe you're mistaken. Pick up any high end rod in a fly shop and look down its length and what I've posted will be confirmed. Heck, give the folks at Winston, Thomas and Thomas or Loomis a call on their 800 lines and ask to speak to their rod building supervisor. They'd love to talk to you about how much time and effort they invest in each rod. As I stated, you may or may not notice the difference, but it is still true that the rod will not, I repeat, will not cast to its full potential. I've built a few two piece rods in my day and believe I can feel it when the rod loads and unloads.

    I browsed the site you posted and used their search engine to research "spine". There seems to be a little controversy among the amateur rod builders and some who claim to have much experience building rods. Some say it makes a difference, other claim it doesn't. Definately not very convincing to me.

    BTW, the only rods I've ever broken were from my slamming the hatch back on them, or the car door.
     
  7. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

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    The physical spine isn't located by looking down the rod, it's located by flexing a section with pressure in the middle to see where it rolls. Looking down the rod shows you the "asthetic spine" which is created when the blanks are baked and the graphite twists. The asthetic spine is just that--looks only, and has no performance benefits (however debatable those are). The physical spine is the single leading edge of the biggest piece of graphite attached to the mandrel, which you cannot locate just by looking at a blank. The edge is covered when the material is rolled onto the mandrel, so it's technically the innermost piece of material.
     
  8. nb_ken

    nb_ken Active Member

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    Say what? How do you figure? I started out with lower-end rods and now own some higer-end rods. I problabaly average 50-60 fishing days per year, then and now. Not an insane amout, but I do spend time on the water.

    Now I'm sure that there's some guy who gets invited to fish with Chaney and goes in and drops $2000 for an outfit he'll only use three times. But I wouldn't call that guy average.

    I bet it's much closer to average to find guy that wants to try out fly fishing, buys a $100 rod and decides he doesn't like it or finds out it takes work to learn to cast. The rod gets used once and ends up in a closet. I know tons of guys like that. Half of them ask me to teach them to cast and then never follow through. I'm going to a party tonight. I guarantee there will be at least 2 or 3 $100 rod owners there who'll tell me they need to learn how to use them. Their rods have never seen water.

    Retailers can (and must) sell more $100 rods than $500 rods. So the return ratio might be due to there being more lower-end rods out there. But I'd say the "average" high-end rod owner is probably more likely to be a serious fly fisherman and know how to use the equipment than the "average" low-end rod owner.
     
  9. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    Quoted differences using the CCS will show less than a 1% difference. Take a look at the CCS site and that will collaborate the data.

    Secondly, regardless of spine, a rod build on any axis with the guides on the top will always torque. For any rod build with the guides on the bottom, they will tend to stay stable.

    Lastly, I will agree there is lots of crap marketing that is surrounding this particular subject. Even with some differences of spine versus no spine, the noticable difference is usually so small that even the best of casters couldn't ever tell the difference. Perhaps someone like Rajeff who uses the rod to 100% each casting competition, but even then the total grain difference to change the amount of static deflection is so light that I seriously doubt they could feel the difference.

    -- Cheers
    -- James
     
  10. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    You may want to reread those posts and find out who is who first. Tom Kirkman is one of the more reknowned custom rod makers around. Futher more there is a section of the site dedicated to the CCS system. The debate is usually related to exactly what is happening here. Folks perpetuating a myth that you must spine a rod.

    Seriously, if you want you can drop by, I'll tape up a few rods, some on the spine, some aligned on the straightest axis. If you can reliably decern the difference, I'll admit ignorance...

    Finally most of the rods produced really do build on the straightest axis. In order to find a spine on a rod you must apply pressure on the blank until it deflects and forces itself to rest. While not hard, it's not something a lot of builders take the time to do. I haven't talked to the folks at T&T or Winston, but I've seen rods from built from other manufactors, and they really do align along the straightest axis. In most cases this is to make sure that the public perception of quality is realized (who wants to buy a crooked rod), but for other reasons, they know it's faster and has little to do with performance if at all.

    -- Cheers
    -- James
     
  11. Steven Mobley

    Steven Mobley Member

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    In my rod building days, before I made any real money, one located the "spine" of the blank by placing the butt of the rod blank on a smooth surface. Supporting the rod near the tip with the open palm of one hand so that the rod is resting at about a 30-45 degree angle to horizontal. Using the other hand, applying a downward presure to the rod blank to bend it slightly. At the same time, rolling the butt of the blank on a smooth surface. This is what I meant when I said I looked down the rod to determine if a rod was wrapped correctly.

    As you do this, the rod will "jump" into a pronounced curve. The inside of the curve is the spine. You then mark the inside of the curve.

    On two piece rods (there were dang few multi's back then) determining spine on the tip section was important.
    According to my friends who still build rods, nothing has changed. Check out what the editor of RodMaker Magazine has to say about this subject.

    http://www.flyanglersonline.com/features/rodbuilding/tips/rt52.html

    Most of what I posted was taken from my copy of an old and tattered Flex Coat "Step By Step Rod Building guide", which I've had and used since 1987. That's some 20 years of rod building and everyone I know who builds rods is very careful to allign them properly. I'm certain the lower priced rods are not getting this attention. My purchase today of a TFO 2WT is a different story. The rod appears to have been constructed properly. When I get a 2wt line, I'll let you know for sure.

    As far as being able to determine through casting if a rod is correct, I stated one might not be able to notice (I might, depending on how poorly it was misalligned), however the rods casting potential would never be realized. This is a true statement. Some casters may never be able to throw 60-80 feet of line, no matter how well built the rod!
     
  12. Davy

    Davy Active Member

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    yeap, confirmed why I ain't here much anymore... but to nb___ken; I said the" average" high end buyer, not the average angler, so please clarify your response before you respond again. I was not talking about the beginner. I don't even think this thread was about the beginner and the begining FF rods and those marketed to them, it is a thread of TFO and other lower cost rods, versus Sage and Loomis and other upper end rods and not theoir low end rods built to compete, which they have to do . Period. Nothing against them. Have legions. However, the originator of this thread makes a living selling these exact specimens and was just simply stating a thought from the other side. So, "Say what" ??????

    I am not even sure why anyone wanting to spend the money on a high end rod would buy a "rack" rod from a flyshop,mega store or anywhere else. There are many highly skilled rod builders out there that wrap rods from all these mentioned makers and others, and do so with much higher quality, care, and craftmanship. Perhaps care is the defining word.Me thinks, there is a difference between a S--- 590 rack rod and a 590 wrapped in the Willamette valley and elsewhere.
     
  13. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

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    CCS wasn't really developed (at least it wasn't known) back when I worked there, and for that matter there wasn't anyone trying to logically quantify and measure performance in relation to rods. I'm glad someone is finally doing it. Now if only the manufacturers would follow a power standard like CCS so we can talk apples-to-apples when we suggest a line weight :)
     
  14. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

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    :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):) i disagree!

    im abusive, so id destroy a mega loop opti reel, there suppose to stay shiney:) i would bet all my equipment that if you did a poll in this state alone that the cheap would out way the highend like 20-1 and most them low ends live by the best water, and catch fish too. the high enders just pay 3 hundie to fish it:)
     
  15. Randy Knapp

    Randy Knapp Active Member

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    I had a custom bamboo rod built on a Phillipson blank. When I would fish it for awhile it would twist in the ferrule so the guides on the top section would not align with the bottom. I took it to a local bamboo rod maker in my club and he showed me the problem. When you put one of the tip sections on a table holding the butt down and then pulled down the tip top and let go, the tip would rebound in an obvious oval. By turning it on each hexagonal side and re flexing it, it eventually rebounded straight up and down. He stripped the tip and realigned the guides and I never had a problem again. I don't think a misaligned spline on a graphite rod has the same marked effect, but I suspect it is still a factor. It is almost critical on a good bamboo rod.

    Randy