The outrageous cost of spey rods

Cutting edge anything always costs. Same with cars. Now days you can get a Mazda or Toyota that will perform as well as a vintage Ferrari without having to pay the price. I just wish the time lag were not quite as long. I once heard that GM lost money on every Corvette they sold (doubtfull) but they did it anyway to boost their image.

Sadly. that is not the case with Loomis, or any of the rest of the industry. Loomis btw is now part of Shimano Corp. No wonder the larger % of their rods are bass sticks. R&D costs, very limited production, quality components, marketing, all add up, I'm sure. Loomis, Sage, and probably the rest of the biggies claim their blanks are rolled here in the good ole U.S. of A. Their rods are 100% made here. And if we want to keep it that way and keep our own people employed, we have to pay the price.

There are those who will pay the price to have the latest, greatest. The rest of us (and unfortunately I am in that group) will have to stand in line waiting to grab up yesterdays slightly used hi-tech.bawling:

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I dabbled in the spey fishing thing about two years ago and since have gone back to a single hander. The rivers that I fish can be all covered with a single hander. So I really don't feel that I have the need for a bigger/longer rod. But beside the cost of the rod,you have to figure in the cost of a good reel and line. Flies are not that big of a deal as you can toss what you are using on your one handed rod..


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Will add this about Loomis. They started as a gear rod company, and I bet the majority of the rods they sell are still gear rods. Will say, costs of rods are going up all over (including gear rods, they are going up as well).

Will also add, R&D isn't only done with fly rods. Difference between a gear and a fly rod is the use. The rod is more designed for how it casts in the fly world, the rod is more designed for it's purpose and what it will specifically handle in the gear world. You have to realize, just as much testing work goes out in gear rods as they do fly rods. They have to make the tip section function properly with the butt section in a gear rod too. They just don't roll two pieces and toss them together. They also have quality components on a gear rod (in fact, usually more, since snake eyes SHOULD be cheaper to make/buy then a ceramic inserted eye).

With that being said. It's funny that a bigger mooching stick (or longer drift rod) goes relatively cheaper then the same fly rod (that's buying blanks too). You can buy a sage drift blank cheaper then a fly blank of similar size. At least you used to (been awhile since I built a rod, fly or drift). On a big mooching or float rod, you use a long blank (10-15' 2-3' rod) with as long of handle as a spey rod. Only difference is one is using oversized snake guides (usually) where the other is using titanium or ceramic inserted drift eyes. Craftmanship is the same. Yet, you have $150-350 on a new rod "gear" wise, over $450-1,000 for a "spey" rod. Yes, they have to test out a spey blank to make sure it'll handle the load over the blank casting. BUT, they have to test same rod drift wise to see if it'll cast the weight you're tossing, then to see how it'll handle having a fish on. I've actually been allowed to field test a few rods (mostly drift rods, but some fly) and they both go through similar testing.

I think it comes down to "If you'll pay for it, then we'll charge that much". I still don't buy the "recoup off the spey" aspect. Especially in Loomis. I know alot of prostaffers and hard core drift fishers who only use Loomis. They have hundreds (yes HUNDREDS) of loomis gear rods on hand (running on the low end $150 and some over $300 easily). I'm sure Loomis (or shall I say Shiloomis) isn't loosing money in any way. Especially since the day Shimano bought out loomis, they've cheapend up the rods (changed the reel seats and eyes to cheaper models instead of the customs Loomis used to use). Yet still charging same amounts. Onto flyrod only makers, that could be a different story. I see Sage is going back to making more drift blanks (I know they used to make drift rods years ago, I know I had a Sage made rod I bough back in the early 80's, maybe late 70's, can't remember when). Not sure year they went "all fly", but remember them even marketing their gear rods in magazines.


Well-Known Member

I agree that generally, yes, price and quality are direct reflections of one another. However, not always. And plastic fly rods is perhaps the best example I know of. I've seen graphite fly rod blanks rolled in Jimmy Green's basement, Fenwick, Sage, and T&T. The cost of manufacturing a graphite fly rod, single or double handed, is a small fraction of its retail selling price. I know that the companies making these products aren't exactly getting rich, but that was hardly my point, either. Only that they could be sold for less than the manufacturer, wholesaler/distributor, retailer markups, but they aren't. Most likely for logical marketing reasons. I'm not complaining; I'm simply aware of it, and I keep that information in mind when I make purchasing decisions.

I know that quality is in the details. And if you think there is anywhere near the hand work, precision, artisanship, or other indicators of craft and quality in a $600 - $800 graphite fishing rod as there is in a $1,000 custom split bamboo fly rod, you are sorely mistaken. I've bought 3 bamboo fly rods in the past couple years. They are works of art and worth every penny I paid for them. I've bought two quality brand Spey rods in the past year or so, and they are not worth what I paid for them, but I like them, and bought them anyway.

As for losing money, I was once able to buy a Sage rod in 1990 that listed for $315 for $129, including tax and shipping. The seller said he still made money on it. No, I don't suggest that anyone should market any product to lose money. I only said that price and quality are not always a direct reflection of one another. You seem to assume that they have to charge those prices in order to recoup the investment, but that isn't always the case, nor anywhere near the only reason for setting a price point. For instance, sometimes part of the "product" is perception in the form of prestige, or even snob appeal. People do like to believe that what they paid was a good deal, and that social attribute does not go unnoticed by those who study marketing. Orvis is a good example, and I'm not knocking their products. They are good, but not that good to the critical eye.


Price, performance, quality; two out of three. Usually, but not always. See above response.


I heard you, and that's why I wrote what I did. What the market will pay is always one consideration in the price of goods. Diamonds are another good example where you don't generally get what you pay for, but that's another topic.


Salmo g.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
luckybalbowa said:
I actually have made one of the famously inexpensive rainshadow spey rods. I built the 7/8 12' 6" model. It seems to cast fairly well, and it got me into the game, but I am wanting a rod with a little more "forgiveness," especially since I am a spey newbie.

What really sucks for me is that I am stuck here in Utah, far away from any retailer that would have a selection of spey rods in stock. When I am back in my home town of Vancouver, my precious time is spent either on the river or with family. Plus, I never have money then because I spent it all on traveling back home.

I can build a good sage spey for about $400-425. That was a lot more than the rainshadow rod I built for about $75. G-loomis does not offer any spey blanks that I have ever seen (and I have looked everywhere).

The whole thing is just so frustrating for me... but flingin that spey line out just about makes up for it :)
You should really talk to Bob Meiser.. He sells a lot of his blanks, and I suspect they cost a fair shake less than sage. The last 2 handed switch rod blank I got from him cost $165....

-- Cheers
-- James


Active Member

I have tinkered in cane rod making and at least have an idea of what it takes. Still fish one of the rods I made over 10 years ago. What I do know is that to make a cane rod is pennies to the dollar, equipment wise, of what it would take to get set up to roll high quality plastic blanks. Unless you can bum time on the 'pressure wrapper' you are pretty much screwed in getting a high quality repeatable product. What about mandrels? Any cost in making new mandrels for two handers? Any idea how much it costs to have mandrels precision machined? Making a curing oven would be comparable for the small timer. What about the machine to sand the ridges left from the cellophane? After spending a few hours at Burkheimer it kinda hit home what is at play to make a graphite rod. And his is a micro operation in comparison to the big boys.

A lot of mouths to feed when selling those top end sticks. Marketing bills to pay. Middlemen. Retailer. Factory has to turn a profit. They aren't there just for our enjoyment.


I just checked out the meiser fly rods... pretty neat looking stuff. I can see spending the $600 he is asking for his spey rods. I have not cast them before, but if they are as good as people say, then hey, why not get that extra hand craftmanship? their blanks look to be reasonably priced as well... can't wait to buy one :)

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Bob Meiser rods are BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I've only cast one a handful of times, but was a dream. Kept teasing my good friend Fred that I was going to have to "lighten up" his motorhome of some of Bob's rods (he had like 12 to demo for people at a speyclave). After finishing a bottle of Macmallan, I think I probably could've got a couple. LOL. But couldn't do that to Fred, great guy. I will say, I will have at least one (maybe two) of Bob's speys before the year is over (I hope).


Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
Meiser rods are sweet! I have cast quite a few different one's out at Aaron's Saturday morning on the river! He has most of the line up as far as I know.

The rods are beautiful and the blanks are awesome. I will probably build one on one of his blanks when I can, although getting one from Bob would be just as good!

As far as spey rods being expensive, yes there are very expensive ones, but you don't have to break the bank to get into it. I started with about a $500 setup with a Heritage rod, Tioga reel and a Rio Midspey floater. I could have spent less on the reel, but I wanted something with a decent drag and quality.

I built my second spey, a Rainshadow 11' 7" beauty for a very reasonable cost, including the rod building class up at All About the Fly with Ron. It turned out awesome and is a blast to fish with!

So yes you can spend a lot on a spey rod, but you don't have too. My next spey setup will be a Skagit setup. Don't know if I build it or just buy it, but you've always got to plan on the next toy!! :cool:


Degenerate Caster
My favorite single hand rod 9 ft 6 inch 5 weight=475.00 - reel=285 lines standard=50.00 and multi tip=115.00----middle of the road price range
my favorite double hand rod 14 ft 8 weight = 595 - reel=400 - lines standard=70.00 and multi tip=140.00 .That seems decent to me as the rod,reel and lines are much bigger.Little boats cost less than big boats and a big wrench will cost more than a little wrench.It all seems fair to me.One irony is that the fat girls want Burger King but the thin girls want Ruth,s Criss steak house go figure


lurker at large
Do you remember when VCR's first came out?.. what was the average cost.. It wasn't until marketers were convinced of it's success that they began producing them at a faster rate..

VCRS have been on the market what??.. 25 years and now you can get them for what?? $39 dollars

DVD players... Same idea... They've been on the market less and you can get them for the same price..

Computers... you can get a computer now for under $500 brand new.. They took less time to go from ridiculous prices to unbeatable..

Market value. If the people need it, Marketers figure a way to make it available.

If you want the price to go down, you have to prove there is a market for it. The only way to prove there is a market for it, is to buy the expensive gear today...

But when you buy gear that's hand made, not mass produced, youre doing yourself and the individual spey rod builder a world of benefit.. Just think about all those once awesome brand names that people wanted not that long ago (Levis, mossimo, bum equipment, etc) That were once considered some of the best quality clothes... now you can by them at Walmart and Kmart. What is Walmart and Kmart synonomous with? Cheap quality...

But the current price just goes to show that spey casting is still too new here in north america to justify cheap spey gear and it's the pioneers today who will greatly affect the change in price for those tomorrow.

IMO when you buy a product that you know is actually from somewhere else, but instead of buying it from that particular place you buy it somewhere else you just cheapen the product. If they're american made, they should be called american double handed rods, not spey rods. :hmmm:

But no need to argue, that's just my opinion. :)


Active Member
well i see this pricing by the major mfg's as excess profit taking. some of the small producers are barely making it, but folks like sage are just rippin you and me. just consider for a moment what happened when loop took the prices of 'their' reels to the extreme. the good folks at danielsson, the actual makers of the 'loop' reels, pulled the plug telling them they were charging you and me way too much. so now, you can purchase a danielsson direct for about 40% less than loop was charging, for the exact same reel.

combine that practice with controlling the distribution of product to a select few shops and then dictating to your local fly shop what price they have to charge. most folks call that price fixing in anyother market place. this niche market could benefit greatly from some competition. and perhaps some of these smaller producers of rods will begin to make a significant enough inroad to take market share from the big price fixers.
I just got set up with a Spey rod, and was really suprised at how many different price ranges there are for them. I ended up getting a TFO 14' 9 wt. for starters, after using Davy's. For me it was a toss up between a Loop blank that Ron had, "The Shop" or a ready to go setup. The pricing on spey gear was pretty shocking to me, and it seemed that you could drop alot of cash on something that might not be the setup for how you cast or fish. I would love to get a nice highend rod as much as the next guy, but if I can't learn how to cast on the entry level gear then a $1,500 rod won't help me. IMO

Outrageous cost - :hmmm:
Porter said:
Quality, Performance, Price. You can have two but never three.
What Porter said.

I'm not cheap, I'm just thrifty!

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Ah, see, I never buy speys new. I think the most I spent for a setup was $450 dollars (and that was a nearly unused Sage spey rod, Lamson spey reel, and WC multitip line). Think most I ever spent though on a rod alone was $300.

Now, I'll spend the extra here (hopefully soon) for a Meiser rod. But besides that, I prefer to buy used. Before anyone wants to say "you're cheating your local flyshop". First, I never frequent them (and never really have back in the day), second most of the gear I bought was from guys upgrading to other rods they planned on buying at a shop. So nobody was cheated (and have bought some on ebay, but that's a different story too LOL).


Active Member
I just think one should buy what one likes and can afford no matter if its $100 or $1000. There are a lot of worse things money can be spent on, and I don't think these rod manufactures are getting rich off the high end rods though. I think they barely get their R&D investments back infact. The money is in the cheap stuff. Ofcourse I could be and probably am wrong.