The evolution of fly fishing gear and costs....

the thread about the max catch or whatever reels really kinda got me to thinking about the evolution of fly fishing gear, costs of gear, costs of where it is or is not made etc.....

We seem to live in strange times. Personally i am a fly shop guy. I love walking in, i love trading fish stories, having a cup of coffee etc. I just love the vibe. I buy all of my tying supplies and most of my other smaller purchases there. I generally buy waders and boots there....

The last fly rod, reel, and line i bought i bought new at my local fly shop. I love the setup. It is what i would call mid grade price wise, made in USA name brand gear.....

But, i doubt that on my limited budget that i will do much shopping there for bigger purchases in the future. I recently bought a Colton fly reel and extra spool off ebay. It seems to be very well made, although i am not 100% sure my research says that its either made in usa or assembled in usa. not exactly sure of which. The brand seems to be popular with east coast striper guys....of course i heard about it from online. And looking at their website the reels are very low cost compared to other companies. And based on my initial thoughts, at least as good if not better quality. Although a soon to be had saltwater trip will put that to the test.

There seems to be a flux a newer gear companies that are all internet sales/direct sales driven companies. I am going to assume that most of this gear is made in the same factories as most other overseas gear......Heck, i can't even keep of with them all anymore. Its strange because it seems that the fly gear world was fairly stagnant for many years as far a new company growth....I see stuff written about all kinds of rods now i had never heard of or seen before....Clutch, Rise, Colton, Epic, Allen, Mystic, Douglas etc etc....Unless i buy some i never will see them either. Cause every fly shop i have been too in my neck of the woods carry the exact same things.....Sage, Scott, Winston, Echo, Redington....sprinkle a few G Loomis, maybe Beulah....

I'm not sure if i really have a point here....just rambling.


One of the issues of buying from China directly is "warranty". Unless there is a credible distributor either in the US or Canada, it is hard to almost impossible to warranty a reel or rod from the factory. Second, when buying from China, you may not be buying from the factory but from a trading company or rep. They have increased the price plus will not warranty the product. Alibaba sells a lot of reels from China. They are a Trading Company that doesn't warranty either.
My fishing buddy brought this Maxcatch to my attention as a fishing buddy of his bought a Maxcatch fly reel and thinks they are great. The discussion is that he and I become distributors in Canada for Maxcatch. I am not excited about it as there are so many reel brands coming out like you say on the On Line and Internet Marketplace. I am a local fly shop guy too. I have Hatch, Galvan, Abel, Sage, and Redington reels. I like to have proven tackle that has been proven and consistent in all the requirements for credibility and support. I know that there are many flyfishers who are looking for product that is under $200 for a reel that will more than meet their needs. A fly reel under 6 weight usage is primarily for holding line. A fly reel doesn't get its "metal" tested until it is handling a fish that rates 6-11 weight usage. I have heard of and seen inexpensive fly reels that promise the moon,but have warped and or exploded while playing a quality fish-salmon, steelhead, bonefish, permit, GT, Tarpon, etc.
The old adage " a sucker is born every minute" is what even the fly fishing industry feeds upon. And if its too good to be true then its probably not true.


Active Member
I broke a Maxcatch travel rod. They sent me a new segment from China for $17. Answered my mail in a day and I had the new segment in 10 days. A friend broke his Sage, and had to borrow my travel rod spare. Warranty from Sage was $75. Next trip the reel seat fell off the Sage, and once again he was using my travel rod, which he was starting to really like. I spent the $75 and bought him one.


Active Member
As someone who has only ever been a low-budget angler, I have tried out a huge quantity of Asian made cheap stuff. The lines, flies, and accessories are basically still largely trash, but the sub-$100 rods and reels have gotten a lot better over the last decade. Cheap polarized shades and rubber nets have gotten better, too.

Hell, one of my preferred rods for the last couple of seasons is actually a 3wt Okuma SLV. I didn't even know Okuma made fly rods til I was at Hooked On Toys in Wenatchee (I fuckin love that store, by the way), saw it, gave it a quick wiggle in the store and instantly realized this was a steal of a rod at $70. Got it on the spot, and still take it on every outing. A pretty damn good rod, to be honest.

Maxcatch stuff isn't terrible at all. I'd honestly recommend those rods and reels 10 times before I recommended a Wal-Mart Cortland set up to someone (even though that's what I learned on when I was a kid) these days. If you've only got $120 and you need to get all your hardware for the season, you have a hell of a lot more options now than you used to, and the quality isn't really that bad at all for anything under a 6/7wt, I'd say. Which is good, in my opinion. Opens up the sport to a lot of folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

I remember there was a thread where people were lamenting at how few newcomers there were to fly fishing. Well, it's more accessible if you don't have to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a rod, reel, line and accessories to get started. Not everyone can afford fly shops, you know, even if they are nice to visit; ok-quality Asian stuff is important to keeping the community diverse. No offense to people here but it's clear to see that some folks really don't understand how expensive and inconvenient fly fishing can really be for average working people.

Big Rob

Active Member
Don't get me wrong. I like good gear. I like to support local businesses. If you have a few kids, and all of them want to fish at the same time, forgeddaboudit!
Let a pair of 7 year olds boulder along a creek with $400+ setups?! No way in hell.

Order directly from
Most products have a 1yr/3yr/lifetime warranty which is not offered thru re-sellers.
Chinese New Year - 20% off through 2/20/18. Use code 'newyear'
The machined AVID 3/4 reel and a spare spool will run you just ~$60 w/ free shipping.
Even as a backup rig...its tough to beat!


Active Member
The whole system has changed. It used to be the gear was manufactured in the US, with US wages, taxes, etc being paid. The gear then went to a dealer who made about a 50% mark-up. Now only the very top specialty equipment is on that system. Mid-priced and "entry level" stuff is made in a factory in Asia at a scary low price, under contract to a manufacturing rep. They add a markup and sell it to an exporter, who adds to the price and gets it sold to and shipped to a dealer over here, who sells it under some known brand name.

I can respect those who prefer the old system, but as I said, it only exists at the top now. An angler of great tradition, Lefty Kreh, has said one of the great mistakes the industry has made was letting the price of rods go so high, letting the sport drift into the elitist category.

I have gear of both types. My custom stuff is used with reverence, my cheap stuff used and abused. I did have a day last year when some fish were rising and I had two rods rigged, an Eagle Claw Feather Light $25 Chinese glass rod and an Orvis Superfine American made rod, expensive for glass at $425. Both rods let me make the somewhat tricky cast to the fish. The cheapo had the right fly and caught them.
One interesting thing to me is that its not just "mid or low" end gear that is made overseas anymore. Two easy examples are Sage and Hardy. Both of which have high end $600 plus reels made in Asia, Korea i think.....So have we moved into a time when high end gear is made in places like Korea also now??


I am on a limited income, retirement and death looming. I wont be getting any of the "elite" rods anymore. I am glad I had my good shit paid for before I got to this point in life....Now it seems the lower end of the spectrum gear is as good or better than some of the mid grade $500 stuff that we were using years ago for WAY less money. There needs to be an introduction of $50 SA quality flylines out of the orient.
Just sayin.


WFF Supporter
One interesting thing to me is that its not just "mid or low" end gear that is made overseas anymore. Two easy examples are Sage and Hardy. Both of which have high end $600 plus reels made in Asia, Korea i think.....So have we moved into a time when high end gear is made in places like Korea also now??

I’m talking about something I don’t know a lot about, so I probably shouldn’t really be posting, but I’ll open my mouth and may have to stick my foot in it...

My guess is that some of the high end gear is being manufactured overseas simply due to a willingness to produce it there for less money. Much of this is likely savings in labor. Additionally, we continue to buy the gear made overseas, so companies continue to manufacture and sell it to us. If we stopped buying it they would stop selling it.

We can’t ignore the fact the not everything made overseas is cheap or poor quality. Think about some of the great cars, cell phones, computers, etc coming out of Asia. It may just be less expensive to have it made there allowing companies to to maintain margins.

I don’t know what my point is...

Ultimately we end up buying the gear that fits our needs and price point. If we are concerned, we can contact our favorite gear company and express concerns or we can vote with our dollars.
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Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
I don't know too many hobbies that are truly cheap.

Ever golfed? Hunting? Classic car restoration? Photography? Or better yet, gear fishing??? Gear fishing makes fly fishing look like a poor mans sport. It's easy to look at the price of a high ticket item like a fly rod as an example, but start pricing quality saltwater gear reels and see how far your budget gets ya. Not to mention, IMO someone can get a single fly rod/reel and fish just about everything this state has to offer. A salty six weight setup would cover 80% of all fishing Washington has to offer. Get into various forms of gear fishing and you're gonna have a half dozen rods and reels in no time at all if you want to do different stuff.

If someone as broke as myself can afford to do this, then its possible for just about anyone. I feel kinda the opposite overall about the fly fishing industry and prices.... I don't believe it's at all pricing folks out. Instead I see companies like Redington, Echo, TFO, Allen, etc etc Offering quality gear at very reasonable prices. Sure, lots of shops want to sell their most expensive gear, but any shop worth visiting will be able to work with just about any budget. I'm pretty confident that if you went in and spoke with Anil and told him your budget he would do whatever necessary to find an outfit to suite your needs.

Deleted member 10700

Fly fishing has turned into a “greedy” industry. It is a sad thing for me. You greedy bastards are ruining the sport. Thank you.
As a business owner this sentiment really pisses me off. Most people have ZERO idea of the realities of running a business not the least of which is providing good jobs and a positive work environment for people who can bitch on the internet about how greedy businesses have become. The real greed is in government.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Active Member
Fly fishing has turned into a “greedy” industry. It is a sad thing for me. You greedy bastards are ruining the sport. Thank you.

You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But do not cast such a wide net. The gear being made today is considerably better than that of 50 years ago. That shift is courtesy of research and field testing and that isn't cheap. I doubt there are few tackle shop owners who are in the business because of greed. They're there because of passion. They aren't getting rich and the better shops have quality staff employed and they should not be working for minimum wage.

It is an industry. Is it a greedy industry? I suppose to you it is. Buy your gear at Walmart and have a nice day on the water as better gear won't make you a better fisher. But if you can afford better, decide what you want to spend, do some research and buy what you choose. But don't think the guy you buy it from, should you decide to support a local small business, is there often before the open time in the morning and after the posted quitting time because of greed. He's there because he enjoys what he does and is trying to do his best for his clients.

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