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Expo aftermath: The search for cheaper options

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POSTED February 2, 2011 1:58 a.m.
The fly-fishing section of the International Sportsman’s Expo was an entire building complete with casting pond and corner stage for presentations by experts.

Since Nate was too overwhelmed to ask questions about upgrading his eight-weight fly-rod, I assisted. I asked a Sage rep what he had under $200.

Impossible, so he silently redirected us to the Redington Models.

Sage is a premier brand name and makes premium rods that cost as much as four premium Toyo truck tires. Most brands in this price range have a cheaper rod that they consider an introductory rod to the sport, but are really more of an introduction to spending a heck of a lot of money.

The salmon and steelhead version of the Redington CPX was in his price range, but negotiations broke down. While all this was going on, I slipped over to the Sage rods.

I had a bit of a Wayne Campbell moment as the Sage Z-Axis stood, seemingly outlined in angelic light.

“She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”

Unfortunately, the $700 tag was more than a little out of my monetary universe.

After the Expo I became bent on finding what I’d get for $500 more than I was comfortable spending. With the help of my buddy Klinger, guides and trusted sources, I got in to some product reviews, all of which naming expensive premium rods the key to longer casts, better accuracy, loading, and a power to stiffness ratio that doesn’t end in jelly arms and casting knots.

I remembered my starter kit, the $59.99 Plueger combo, and how sore my arm was from whipping that 5-weight broom-stick back and forth for months until I upgraded to a Temple Fork Outfitters.

Placement improved, back-casts and roll casts were entertainment themselves. The more sophisticated rod did increase my enjoyment, but that was a $100 difference, not a month’s rent.

I contemplated further.

If I wanted to just catch fish, I’d put gobs of Powerbait or worms on hooks, or toss a spinner that creates a hellish disturbance in the water inciting bites, in other words, allowing the technology put into the bait to do the work.

In fly-fishing, the technology is put into the equipment, because the margin for error is slight when dealing with bait made from hair, yarn and thread at the end of a line that one can only hope stays straight.

As someone that fishes at least as much with a spinning rod as a fly-rod, I can confidently say I get zero enjoyment out of 100 empty casts with a spinning rod.

But watching a tight-looped cast unravel and delicately place a fly next to a cut bank can almost make me forget it’s been 45 minutes since my fly has been assaulted from below the surface.

You can’t enjoy fly-fishing, if you don’t enjoy fly-casting. But can more enjoyment come from throwing money at equipment?

This is where Burke White comes in.

Burke works for Leland Fly-fishing out of San Francisco. I sent him the frustrated angler too underfunded to experience in the apparent joys in premium fly-casting email, and bombarded him with information I have found regarding the casting ease of premium rods such as Sage, Scott and G. Loomis.

After a few emails, I called him, and we spend 28 minutes talking about the plight. He agreed that with regards to a stick that truly makes fly-casting enjoyable, few match the premium rods, and if I want to make a deep investment in to the sport, and find a deeper joy in catching fish with a rod that casts smoother is lighter and won’t require rotator-cuff surgery, I should get one.

There are cheaper rods that cast well, but they usually come with qualifiers such as, “for a cheap rod” or “for the price” or “although it can’t.”

So I am no closer to a decision — or buying a rod.

I do have a ton of new knowledge, a couple good resources and another reason to collect change.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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