So, you own a major fly rod company and you have had it.
You are going to originate a 'line' of rods, a whole family
of them that have the old coverage, namely, not much. A
simple 30 day guarantee on workmanship and materials. Beyond
that, you bust it Buster, you pay for it.
The theory is you should be able to sell these rods, let's
call them the 'uncovered ones' cheap. Look at all the costs
you avoid. Or should anyhow. Let's see first though. It still
will cost the same for taxes, lights, heat, insurance, wages,
materials, added components, labor, shipping, research and
development, advertising and the other normal expenses that
are required to be in business.
So, anyhow, let's say with a birth to death guarantee this rod
with a normal mark-up should sell, back in the old days for
$300.00. Everyone agrees that the cost was based on actually
figuring the customer would break it and you would have to give
him a free rod. Ok, so this new rod should cost half, right?
What about all those other costs I just listed? It is possible
to break down the cost of a rod and by including only the actual
costs of the parts, come up with a cost? This is false of course
as there are many other costs involved. To say a rod only 'costs'
$50.00 to make is dead wrong. There may only be $50.00 bucks worth
of materials in it, but that in no way is the cost of even
Let's say my company buys it's guides and we will say they are
a buck a guide when they hit my front door. That makes it about
$9.00 for guides per rod. Of course that is not 'on' the rod. It
takes several other costs to get them applied, wrapped, covered
and finished. These all add up. When one adds up all of the parts
involved, and there are many when you get to think about it. The
idea of being able to sell a rod for half without the full guarantee
just does not fly.
It would make it possible for a company to sell one for a lot
less though and we wonder why none of them do it. We grumble
and complain they are all greedy so and so's etc. Let's play
that I do make such a rod. We put it on the market. The 'uncovered'
is launched in a whole run of sizes, 3 weight to 12. Excellent
materials, fine workmanship, top of the line stuff. I am able
to put my rods against the competition and knock their socks
off. My rods are as good as their best and sell for 30% less.
Wow. I am changing the fly rod world.
Think of my advertising campaign possibilities. Words. Phrases.
Claims. All new stuff never used before. An ad man's dream. And
then it hits. The word on the street. The innuendo. Letters to
editors. Bloggers. Bulletin Boards. Chat-rooms. Give this a few
moments to circulate in the old gray matter. It doesn't take long
to see what will start up and very soon at that. I can just see
comments like these:
"That's not enough off, you should make it half. You're screwing us."
I think you get the idea. So, lets take a hypothetical look
at where we are now with my make-believe rod company. If I
lower my price they will accuse me of using cheap material.
If I do not lower the price, keep it right where it is, they
will accuse me of ripping them off. If I change the guarantee
I am screwing them on the old rods and not covering the new
ones. If I charge a shipping and handling fee, that is 'just
getting around' the guarantee. Is there no way out? Perhaps, one.
"What is wrong with your rods? You afraid to stand behind them?
Other companies do for a year or better. There must be something wrong
with the rods or you would at least cover them for a year or more."
"What is wrong that you are not telling us about? You switch
to cheap parts? Stuff that looks good but will break soon.
Second-grade graphite and scrim stuff in there?
" You know it won't last don't you. Sorry you can't recommend
your own products any longer than that. Think we will stay with
a rod that is covered against everything. Even at 30% more it
looks like a bargain to me. I just couldn't trust a rod that
the manufacturer wouldn't stand behind."
At this time it may be that we, the rod buying populace, may
have poisoned the well. The 'apple of evil' has a bite out
of it and there is no turning back. Today's customers have,
rightfully or not, ended up with an attitude. An attitude that
the rod companies are fat hogs, getting rich on them, not
backing the guarantees by charging associated fees now, and
are over-charging for the rods and taking away American jobs
by shipping work "off shore." Deserved or not, the truth is
there are some people who do think that way. And it's a shame
because it's dead wrong. First let me paint yet one more scenario.
FAOL gets all of the rod manufactures to join our 'Rod Making Guild.'
We get all of them to agree, at the same time, to drop their
guarantee to 30 days, materials and workmanship. Of course
the young guys will scream about that and the old guys will
love not having to pay for rod breakage by the young guys.
The fights will continue. There is no way any one company can,
even by having different guarantees within the company, satisfy
So what to do. How to solve this mis-impression of the rod (and
some fly reel) makers. The law of supply and demand is in place
and has been for years. It is in control and is working perfectly.
Charge too much, not really supplying what you are charging for
and you go down the pooper. Do things right and you will survive
and flourish. Examine the market, see what they want or need,
fill that want or need at a fair and equitable price for value
received and you will succeed.
Let me throw in my thoughts on this matter of a guarantee. When
I bought my first rods I was too young and stupid. I didn't look
to see if there was one. I know I didn't ask the clerk if there
was one. He also sold mufflers and tractor tires and I don't think
he fished. I selected the rod from the barrel and took it to the
counter and paid for it. The truth is, I would no more have even
thought about any guarantee with it than if I has just bought a
drinking glass or some dishes. It was a cane fishing 'Pole.' The
are subject to breakage. Duh! A few years later it did break and
guess what? I was not surprised! Lots of things do. On any rod or
reel I buy today I can truthfully tell you this. I do not know if,
how long and/or for what it may or may not be guaranteed. If there
is something mechanically wrong I will point this out to the maker
and I will expect him to correct his mistake. If the workmanship
is messy? And I didn't see it when I bought it? Tough. My mistake
for not paying attention. If it fails in use do to some undetectable
problem I will expect the maker to be reasonable, if we can determine
it may have been something he had some control over. If not, too bad.
My choice for the rod makers is this, although I know it can not
happen and it's a darn shame. Go back to the old days when the
customer was not always right. When if he busted stuff you tried
to be as nice and sympathetic as you could, but "he broke it, he
pays for it." Guarantees on fly rods? No thanks. I take care of my
I want to say this for the rod makers. I know many, heck, most
of them, in person. Have for many years. Surprising how many
still have a lot of the same folks working there too. Many of
these operations are like small families. In fact, they get
along better than most small families do. They love what they
do. They are there by choice. They weren't drafted or born
into it. They applied for and after some scrutiny were accepted
into the fold. They work hard to make the money which supports
their own family at home, the wife and kids and pets.
They are proud of what they personally do each day. Proud
of the products the Company offers. Of the quality of all
of it, every single nut, bolt and rod case. When they see,
read, or hear some of the comments on here, or anywhere else
for that matter, it hurts. It hurts because those comments
are wrong. I'm sure you know that almost all of the 'defective
rods' were broken by some mis-use of the owner. Stepped on,
high-sticking a fish, pulling on a snag, car door and all
the others. The rod makers cover them anyhow. I am proud of
those who are sponsors on here, darn proud. Do I have personal
favorites in Companies and rods? Sure. Kind of like asking me
which one of the batch of new puppies do I like the most. Some
questions just do not have answers. Different rods for
These guys are knocking their brains out each and every day
to design and re-design rods to make your fishing better,
more fun, less work, catch more fish and at a price you can
afford, will pay and they can make a living on. It all has
to balance out. It just might be the real high priced rod
makes it possible for one of the lower ones to sell for what
it does and not 15% higher. It might make them a better deal
for you while you condemn the Company for making the very
high-end rods which are helping subsidize the rod you like
and use. Could be. We will never know. But, I have been in
business too. It would not surprise me to find such things.
No point in making the perfect universal rod which no one
There are several rod makers who Sponsor FAOL and trust me,
none would be on here if we (both LF and I) didn't think the
rods were what the makers claimed they were and at a fair
cost and by a company which had the integrity to handle the
customer properly. There will be more in the future too. This
game keeps changing all the time. New things come on the scene,
old things get replaced by the new ones. New material is
discovered and tried and for a while is the "best thing since
sliced bread." You may notice sometimes we will lose a sponsor.
He may decide to try another media, move his advertising dollar
around, a common practice. When that happens we wish him the best.
We want him to make it. Make it, so you have the biggest and best
choice of toys to fish with. Sometimes they come back too. We
also like that and we try very hard to make them a success so you
can have the opportunity of buying what you want. They know it,
we know it, and now you do too. ~ JC