Sometimes the FAOL staff has something to share with our readers that doesn't quite fit in a normal category. These items can be found here.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH (Apr 12 1998 reprint)
I want to try to help some of you with a potential problem; how much to pay for your first fly rod. Most who buy a first fly rod look at the price. Some look for the cheapest one they can get out of the store with. Others take the advice of a clerk and spend a few bucks more than they had expected to. And then there those who buy the 'best' rod in the store.
There are dangers in all of the above. To buy the 'cheapest' rod you can get most often gives you a rod which casts so poorly you cannot learn on it, and it would not 'fish' for you if you did learn. Using this approach could land you a fly rod in the price range of $10.00 to $50.00 This rod is a total waste of your dollars, even if you put a good fly line on it.
The second choice (taking some advice from a clerk) is less dangerous than the other two methods. Here you need to have found a clerk who really does know what he is talking about and is to a degree, honest; not just pumping up the sale. Ask yourself these questions: Will this rod really do as a 'second' rod for back-up later on? If I wish to sell it and get a better one, will it be of any value to re-sell? If I want to give it to someone (wife, or offspring) will it be good enough for that? These questions should lead you into the price range from $150.00 to $250.00 Any brand of fly rod in this area will cast well enough for you to learn on and serve you well for many years and uses.
The worst mistake I see is purchasing the 'best' rod in the store. The greatest share of these is 'specialty' rods. They are 'performance rods' designed for the professional caster. They are probably extremely fast, very light in hand, gorgeous to look at, but make as much sense as buying a 'Indianapolis 500' race car for your first vehicle. Remember, the salesman may not have very high ethics (most do, by the way) and make lots of points with the boss if he can high-grade you into the top-of-the-line rod. You may be able to impress your buddies with the latest expensive model ('till they see you cast), but you may have problems learning on it. You will probably break it due to inexperience, perhaps not even like fly fishing because of it. You may give up the whole sport. That's too high a price for making a mistake.
So there you have it. What is the best way? That is still your choice, but now you have a few more ideas to work with. Good luck. ~ JC