||Awhile back I attended the Vancouver
Fishing Outdoors show and had the chance to cast a wide
array of fly rods. From Lamiglas to St. Croix, I cast
them all and I gained some useful insight into the differences
between rods from various manufacturers and even some
of the nuances between rods of different series made by
the same company.
I started out with Sage. I have always liked Sage rods for
their fast action and light weight. Back in 1982 when I purchased
my first graphite rod (a Sage I) there was not much in the
way of solid competition and Sage won my choice easily. Now
there is a bevy of good graphite rods on the market and companies
are hard pressed to stay on top of the competition.
I cast several of the Sage rods and that graceful fast action
is still there. It's nice to see a company stick to what got
them to where they are today; some things should not be changed.
The rods all cast well and I thoroughly enjoyed my time casting
them. They loaded well, easily maintained good line speed
and had good tip damping speed (the speed at which the tip
stops moving when you stop moving it). Unfortunately, Sage
prices have climbed to a point where they are prohibitive
to most "weekend warriors".
I cast the St. Croix rods next. These rods have developed
a reputation for being the "affordable" alternative
to the high priced, high performance graphites such as Sage.
After casting all three rods in the St. Croix repertoire I
can honestly say that the St. Croix line lives up to its claim.
While not the powerhouse that the Sage rods are, they performed
exceptionally well. The manufacturer has stated that they
design their rods to have a more "classic" casting
action than the other graphites and I believe they have achieved
this. Once I adjusted to the slower speed of these rods I
found them light and powerful. The most pleasant surprise
of all however, was the fact that these rods are up to one-fifth
the price of other upper end rods. While at the St. Croix
booth I overheard one fellow state that he liked the action
of the St. Croix rods so much that he had given up using his
other rods. As it turned out, his "other rods" were
some of the much higher priced rods I cast. It simply goes
to show you that there is no one rod, or even one manufacturer,
that can satisfy everyone's taste.
When I finished with the St. Croix rods I ventured over to
the Lamiglas booth. They strung me up a six-weight system
and I took it over to the casting pool to give it a try. Upon
casting it I immediately noticed that the speed of the rod
was much faster than anything I had cast thus far. So fast,
in fact, that I was uncomfortable with it and it took me several
minutes to adjust to its speed. I could have loaded the rod
with an eight-weight line and I am sure it would have cast
that just as easily. I paid close attention to the rod as
I cast it and no matter how much of that weight forward line
I loaded the rod refused to bend past the upper third of the
blank. That was a STRONG rod. Being that fast though I believe
the Lamiglas would be difficult for beginner and intermediate
skilled casters, but it was quite an experience to cast. The
Lamiglas was also a good price in comparison with the other
I returned the rod to its rightful owners and moved on to
the Thomas and Thomas rods. After questioning the representative
about their rods for a few minutes he finally asked if I would
like to try one. I thought he would never ask. He loaded up
his top of the line two-piece six-weight and off we went.
I cast this rod for a good five minutes and could not make
up my mind about it. It was beautiful to look at, lightweight
and well balanced. It threw out line with impunity and I had
a hard time trying to tell exactly how it compared to the
others. It had a rod speed somewhere between the Lamiglas
(the fastest by far) and the Sage. It dampened very well and
overall performed wonderfully. I decided that I liked it and
asked the fellow what the price was on it. He told me and
I quickly passed it back to him before I passed out. It was
an exceptional rod but I just could not see that there was
that much difference between it and its competitors to justify
such a high price.
||Unfortunately I ran out of time then
and never got to cast any other brands. My little casting
clinic did, however, allow me to see and cast an array
of rods that varied greatly in performance, action and
price. I cannot tell you which rod or rods were best.
There was no one best rod, they were simply different.
Certain rods lend themselves to certain casting and fishing
situations better than others. I can tell you though that
all the rods were good quality and all had lifetime unconditional
warranties. If you have ever broken a rod tip you will
know the value of such a warranty.
I never set out to do a "rod competition." I simply
wanted to cast a few rods for my own knowledge, but as I went
along I discovered things that I thought might interest you.
To do an in-depth review and comparison would require rods
from the other manufacturers and a lot more time and effort,
as well as some defined guidelines and "tests."
The best advice I can give you is that you get what you pay
for up to about $100 or so. From there on you start to enter
the world of declining benefits per dollar increase. As the
price increases, you get better performance, but somewhere
along the way the costs start to outweigh any increase in
performance; that trade-off point varies with the individual
caster. Go to the next outdoors show yourself and don't be
afraid to get up at the casting pool and cast a few rods.
You should never buy a rod without having cast it (or one
exactly like it), and you will be amazed at the differences
between the various companies. If you take a bit of time to
do this you will be much better prepared to purchase the rod
that best suits you and your personal needs and will find
yourself a fishing buddy that will serve you for a lifetime.
Previous Articles by Bill Luscombe:
To visit saltwater flyfishing patterns by Bill Luscombe,
For more information about Bill Luscombe and his available
courses visit his home page at: