A lot of the rods in the Cabelas catelog are pretty cheap- i got my first rod their for like 100 bucks. But it might be pretty hrad to find a cheap rod at any flyshops around here, so i wouldn't advise looking there. I would reccomend a 7 weight for summer steelies, an 8 or 9 for winter steelhead, and a 5 weight for trout. Overall, a 7 weight would probably be good.
Who could blame you for wanting to get going right away, and there is no doubt that fly rods are way too expensive, and for no apparent good reason. That said, it's the reality we have to live with.
Unfortunately, many rods under $100 don't seem to be worth $10, and can be almost useless for steelhead fishing. The first rod I bought was a $100 Cortalnd #8 for steelhead fishing. It cost me years of frustration. That rod just did not have the performance characteristics necessary to throw the kinds of casts steelhead fishing calls for. I went years believing that I was never going to get it right. When I finally broke down and bought a Sage, I was amazed to find that I could cast after all.
The good news is that you can definitely get started trout fishing with a less expensive rod. There are certainly lots of advantages to having a high-performance rod for trout fishing, but nothing that you can't do without, or that can't be overcome with technique. Since your other problem is that there really isn't a good weight that's going to do you well for both steelhead and trout, you might want to start with a five or six wieght for trout. (A seven weight might sound like a good compromise, and will play both species adequately, but line/rod weight is more a casting than fish-fighting function (I've landed ten lb coho on a six weight). A seven weight will start to give you trouble both when you start throwing really big winter steelhead flies, and when you try to turn over really long, fine leaders for picky trout.) You can get started having fun fishing lakes and streams for trout, and start saving for an adequate steelhead rod (plus you'll catch a lot more fish).
In the meantime, Loomis, St. Croix, and Redington probably make the best rods in the price-points you're looking for. I agree that you should stay away from the fly shops for now; Outdoor Emporium, Salmon Bay Tackle in Ballard, or the Seattle REI all carry the rods your looking for,and at the same time will be knowledgable and sensitive to your needs (stay away from someplace like Big 5 or Fred Meyer). Or you could get one of the "intro-rods" most high-end manufacturers offer. They are made with the same blanks as their more expensive rods, but with less finish-detail, cheaper reel-seats, etc. They might actually be a little more $ than you're talking about, but they offer an opportunity to get a little more performance, particularly if you have your heart set on a steelhead rod.
well i can live withe the one i have it has some damage on the fist ferral were they meet i am needing a biger rod for steelhead i have a 5/6 i am going to the snake and the grand round late oct and erly nov
i need to be ready for fish so i will chk out 2what u said and see
Hey Bud, I can relate. I would say "jack of all traits; master of none", would describe what you are looking for. Me, too. "Budget difficulties", but obviously the passion is there for you. "Fun factor" is everything. I agree with JonDuke.. 7wt. As far as your budget, might I suggest saving longer to get a better rod. One hundred dollars on top of what you said would be a huge difference. In the up coming trip you have planned you should go to a local shop and ask about "loner" rods. I know Scott did it at one time, but off hand don't know who sells Scott's locally, maybe someone else might. This is Sage country. Ha, whatever- Hope this helps, Best of luck, Glen B.:jj
:jj Heya I started much the same as you I can't stress enuff that you need a good rod to get started properly.Having tried everything I settled on a 10'8 wt.I use this for both summer and winter steelhead and am very happy.I found a local rod shop and found I could get a better rod by buying a mid range blank and building my own.It's fun to tell folks That I built my own.The local shop in my area is Gregs custom rods in Lake Stevens He has an area in his shop to work so expert help and advice is always around.Also don't forget the bible of steelhead fishing by Trey Combs it's filled with info methods stories andis invaluble when starting out and as a reference later.Can't catch em in your living room so get out there.