March 1st, 2004

By James Castwell

"We all operate out of our own self-interest first." I think that is how it goes; mostly it's probably true I guess. Self-preservation sort of thing. Nothing wrong with it. Seems to have worked ever since we popped up on this planet.

Along the way several styles of society have been tried. They all worked in their own way for varying periods of time. Those participating in them had mixed reviews of what was good or bad about each. In the end they all seemed to either collapse from external forces or from some pressure from outside. Some societies morphed into different forms and tried to continue under a modified plan for and with a changing set of circumstances. So it is with civilizations and societies and life.

A benevolent dictator situation often works for a while, perhaps a King and a Camelot thing, that is until a 'Robin-Hood' emerges. There is one type which seems not to have worked anytime it has been tried. Marxism, Communism, Socialism; like a chain letter, they are best for the guy who starts them.

They look good on paper, but never seem to fly well. The style of society where we all have the same amount of stuff; we are born equal, but doomed to stay that way. This is sometimes brought about by taking from those who have a lot and distributing it to those who don't. The 'haves and the have nots' and even them out.

To me that is what the 'bullet-proof' guarantee is. The lifetime unconditional warrantee which makes sure we will never be responsible for anything. But you say, "They sold it that way and I paid for it, so what's the big deal?"

Good question. Let's see if there is a good answer. One problem I see is that, and let's get to the point here, fly rods are offered to folks of all ages. Not a problem when you first think of it, but what happens when you look at it a little further? Start with a five hundred dollar rod and cover it for ever for everything and anything. The manufacturer might have to replace it a few times and builds in a margin of profit to cover those costs.

You are twenty-five and buy one. If you are careful, really take care of it, it should last a life time for you. They don't wear out. Replace the guides maybe but that is about it. You have been overcharged because they included a dollar margin to cover replacement and you didn't need it. So what really did you get? A fly rod and an insurance policy (which you had no choice in purchasing), that was hidden/included in the price.

How about you buddy though? He is a gorilla and sent his in several times for replacement. Whenever it got dirty, nicked with a bead-head or a bit worn looking he whacked it and got a nice new one, sometimes even an improved model.

Now, how do you feel about that? Fair? You are careful and end up with an old rod, he is a klutz and gets new rods, which you paid for.

How about your dad? He got one the same day you did, but he only got to fish it for twenty years or so. Did he receive the same value as you? The insurance policy cost him the same but was for a shorter time period. Fair?

Grandfather got one that day too. He only fished for five years then hung it up. Why did he have to help pay for the rods your gorilla buddy busted? Again, do you think that is fair?

For me the idea of spreading the costs of all replacements among everyone who buys a rods is not a fair thing. I think repairs should be paid for by those who need repairs, period. Just as taking stuff away from those who have worked for it and earned it and giving it to those who have not is not fair, neither is making those who do not need replacement rods pay for those who are careless or unethical.

This is not to say that, if the companies are willing to give such a guarantee, you are wrong in buying from them or using it to the fullest degree. In fact, in my opinion, go to it, rip them a new one. Perhaps they will drop the stupid idea. It is detrimental to our whole sport.

Nothing is worse than watching someone who has absolutely no respect for his gear, and we have all seen it many times. They degrade our sport and have no place in our society. It is the direct result of the unconditional guarantee and the company that started it and those who were forced to follow suit to stay in the game.

I think it is very proper for a rod maker to unconditionally guarantee a rod for a time period; a year, five maybe, lifetime for that matter, against things they have some control of, materials and workmanship. But that's it. Today most are charging a fee for replacement. That is a start, but what is really needed is at least one of them to state, "This rod is guaranteed for one year against defects in materials and workmanship."

Anything more than that deflates. Repairs should probably be offered, but, not necessarily. They are a rod 'making' company, not a 'fix-it' shop. You bust your fly rod, take it to someone who knows how to repair them. Worked for many years, still might. Let the rod makers concentrate on what they are geared up for and do the most cost-effectively, simply make fly rods. The cost will come down, free enterprise will guarantee that.

I value my equipment and try to take very good care of it. I take pride in it no matter of its value. It is mine and it should reflect my values. My rods and reels run the gamut of price range but I value them all. Sure they are all just fishing rods and reels, but I don't have to treat them like crap. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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