who can afford...


Active Member

Your post leaves me somewhat puzzled. I'm not suggesting that whatever reel comes with a Cabela's Three Forks 5 wt isn't a piece of junk. But how big and what species in the fish that destroys the drag on a reel that is on a 5 wt fly rod? Anything I fish for with my 5 wt doesn't require a reel equipped with a drag. I maintain that the main reason for having a reel on a trout rod (like a 5 wt) at all is because the line would get tangled if I just stuffed it in my pocket. I agree that a cheap reel must have a cheap drag, but how would a fish destroy it? Maybe the drag is so cheap it self destructs, and the fish has no role in it. I have old spring and pawl reels that I got at Goodwill over 40 years ago for $3 each, and they're good to go for anything I would fish my 5 wt for.

I don't know what a reel with a "reasonable" drag goes for these days, but I'll still maintain that a trout reel doesn't need a damn drag, unless the trout in question are steelhead, and even then, the drag need only be a competent spring and pawl setup.


No worries - I'm not wrangling steelhead and salmon on my 5-wt.

I absolutely agree that a drag is largely unnecessary for most 5-wt quarry, but the 5+ pound rainbows from the Satsop Springs hatchery they plant in some of my local lakes are exceptional. The 5-wt. rod handles them quite well, but when they decide to run, they put a reel to the test (especially one made of plastic). I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that I use the outfit in question as mostly a trolling setup, so when the fish hits, it's already on the reel. If it's a big one, it's sometimes into the backing before you get the rod out of the holder.

I probably shouldn't make lofty claims about fish "blowing up my drag." I haven't even looked at the drag to see what shape it's in. I just know that I can set it as tight as it will go and the line peels off pretty easily (it used to tighten up pretty good), and that tells me it's perhaps a bit "worn."


Active Member
And oh yeah, I should probably mention that while I do think there are a lot of great cheap rods out there these days, I can appreciate that in most cases, the high end stuff is better, and if I had the money, I'd replace my cheapies with Cadillacs. With me, buying the less expensive stuff comes down to practicality, not principle. I certainly don't begrudge anyone for going for the gold if they have the means.

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
I'll spend $$ on X-C race gear, boots&stuff, but that's about it. Don't see any need to lug a thousand dollar rig around on a stream. Besides, as we all know, the cheap Echo Solo catches as many fish as the Sage. There's a few things where you get what you pay for, but most of the time, it's just hype. The one exception I see is in bamboo rods, where there's more artistry than anything else. Things of beauty should be! Looking at a $1400 rod vs a $350 Headwaters bamboo, they're both beautiful, and they both work fine. Which would you pick?


Active Member
o mykiss, I understand your disdain for those of us that are frugal but we are not the self righteous goons you take us for. Often there is a reason someone becomes thrifty as well as a reason another person spends beyond his means. I have always suggested that you buy what you can afford and get the best possible value for your money. But our in-debt society has run that theory into the ground and left many families teetering on financial failure.

As an elderly person I see far too many examples of this with too many people my age and many younger living hand to mouth. And I'm not saying they are all in that condition because they bought $1,000 fly rods. The point I am trying to make is that instead of buying the $1,000 item you can find happiness with a $250 item and put $750 in your IRA, Roth account, stocks or bonds or some other interest and value accruing investment. That is a far better business model than always bragging that "I only buy the best" etc,etc ad nauseum.

I learned a lot from my dad who bought a new car every 2 years and kept the family in near peril making payments. There was never enough money for anything else, I received a grand total of fifty bucks from him for my college education. I have since observed many families in similar situations over boats, RV's, pickup trucks, expensive cars, hunting rifles, tract mansions and airplanes among others. I was aware early that I could never be successful long term being like my dad.

My caution paid off. I paid cash for my 20 acres here and my house was paid for before I spent the first night in it. All of those working years when my peers were working every minute of overtime they could squeeze in I worked it only selectively and saved much of it instead of elevating my standard of living to some artificial plateau. I retired early and the past 14 years have been far and away the best years of my life. I would wish that for everyone. My dad died less than a year into his retirement.

So we are not idiots just because we don't have a quiver full of high end gear at our disposal. We are smart, are looking way down the road and ultimately have bigger fish to fry.



Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
For me personally, the price of gear is a pittance compared to the cost of just going fishing.
Since I became single again seven years ago, I've been able to average 100-125 days per year on the water.
The amount of money I spend on gas, lodging, food, ferries etc far outweighs what I spend yearly on gear by a wide margin.

I really have enough gear (rods & reels) to last me the rest of my life, but I still get the itch for some more gear. So I scratch it with either new or used gear. My weakness is 6 wts. Do I need five of them? No, but I fish all of them so I don't feel badly about having bought any of them and I'd do it again without thinking about it.

As I mentioned early in this thread, we've never had it so good as far as fly gear goes. Tons of choices for every budget.
Buy the best equipment you can the first time. Face the facts, if you love the sport you'll eventually be buying more equipment.
I give this subject lots of thought and have been on both sides of the spending spectrum mainly due to circumstantial reasons. As has been stated before, the range of gear really is wide enough that you can definitely enjoy the sport on the less expensive side, yet still, the sport of fly fishing is not cheap or inexpensive by any means and like SF noted, traveling is what gets me the most...so some of us more than others are limited to where we fish. My main issue with the sport is that at times, (not everywhere) I sense that I'm being treated like a 2nd class citizen in various fly shops because you're not dropping the coin like some of the "ballers" do. But that's a whole different subject.
I'd rather own a Sage than a Cabelas rod. And I'll be buying another when someone else decides to sell theirs a year or two after they bought it new.

Buy what you want and don't worry about what others are doing. My arsenal is pretty awesome..... and quite meager compared to others.

Same here, I buy used stuff from the "ballers", it works out quite well for me and next to that I learned to build by own stuff, this makes it even better. ;)


Active Member
When I worked at Nike years ago, the folks who marked running shoes talked about weight, that is, weight of the shoe. A shoe that is an ounce less than the next one will mean you pick up a pound less weight in 8 steps (8 by each foot, I mean). Over the course of a 5 mile run that means you've lifted about 100 pounds less. I don't run unless chased buy somebody with a knife, so I am sure I would not appreciate that difference. However, there are those that do. The cheaper shoe works great - good cushioning, good support, protects your foot, etc. That might be enough for you. For others, however, that one ounce less may make a difference.

The way I see it, the same thing holds true with fly rods. Many of the upper-end rods I've cast are a bit lighter, same with reels. Over the course of a thousand casts, that adds up, but if that's not something you notice, more power to you. Those rods tend to have a finer action. I cast two rods the other day, one of them my TFO Professional, one of them a Sage One. The TFO is rated as a Medium Fast (by TFO) and the Sage as Fast (by Sage). There was no comparison. My TFO felt heavier and more broomstick-like after casting with the Sage for a while. $625 difference? That's your decision, and I won't fault you whichever way you go, but if I had $775 and didn't have to save $$ for kids' college or retirement, I'd be on that Sage like white on rice.

o mykiss

Active Member
Ive - I never called anyone an idiot, nor do I have disdain for anyone's frugality. Actually, I'm pretty sure it was the other way around. And the implication that anyone who buys nice fly fishing equipment must be a financial moron is more than a bit condescending. I've made similar choices to those you've made in other areas of my life. For years, my "fishing rig" was a 1995 VW Jetta; I've been in the same 1900 sf house on a 4000 sq lot for the last 20 years; I run my appliances until they die. Most of us have to make choices about where and how we spend our money. If some guy wants a Benelli shotgun instead of a Remington for wing shooting, who am I to tell him that he's a dumbshit (or poser) for opting for the more expensive choice just because both will get the job done? I'm guessing there were cheaper alternatives to that new 4W drive pickup you just bought. But hey, that's your choice and I'm not going to call you out for making it.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
The fish don't give a shit on what gear you use. Now that I'm older now, I don't fish as hard as I used to. Rod weight doesn't mean that much to me because of that. Maybe if you use the rods made off shore you would lift a few weights in the winter time your off shore rods wouldn't tire you out as much.


I only have 1 shot at life, so living in a shack and saving every penny for decades just so I can cash out on a piece of property that I can enjoy for the last 10 years of my life isn't going to happen. I'll make investments in my happiness now, as well as plan for my future. That balance is up to me to decide on.

People will spend what they can spend for any number of things and it isn't my job to evaluate whether their purchase was smart or stupid.


the sultan of swing
I only have 1 shot at life, so living in a shack and saving every penny for decades just so I can cash out on a piece of property that I can enjoy for the last 10 years of my life isn't going to happen. I'll make investments in my happiness now, as well as plan for my future. That balance is up to me to decide on.

People will spend what they can spend for any number of things and it isn't my job to evaluate whether their purchase was smart or stupid.
Damm right , theres no sense in being poor ,& looking poor too!!!
Fishing now for 25+ years and and still love the first rod I bought. I own six from #3 to #7 and four of them ordered 'used'.
Now spending only money for decent hooks and small stuff. Take care of your gear and be a happy fly fischerman:)


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