Fishing The Fly Forum, based in Aberdeenshire,  Scotland

Terry Coging

Cheap rods
« on: June 18, 2016, 10:05:45 AM »
Unbelievable!
I've enjoyed using a Shakespear Agility 10' #7 for 3 seasons. I use it in preference to the same sized rod from two big named manufactures that cost several times the price.  I use an 11' #7 when it's rough on open water.  Fitted with and extension handle that I made (Shakespear still use 3/8"bsf  threads for fighting butt) it becomes a switch, albeit a bit slow.  Last year I bought a 10' #5, which has become my favourite.
John Norris are selling them off ready for a new model £30/£33!
I am no novice, having fly fished for half a century.  I was also in the trade for a while and soon learnt that most tackle is designed and marketed to catch fishermen rather than fish.
So, I have 6 Agilities (half kept in France) and 5 Barrio lines for a total of £400! Apart from lead lining, I can cover any conditions without compromise.  I team the Barrio's with Lamson Liquid #2 and #3.5 = lovely balanced outfits.

Hamish Young

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2016, 12:34:00 PM »
I read this post with interest and havered about replying (in the interests of debate)..... but here we go.

Shakespeare have made some really good rods over the years, I fondly remember my radial carbon 11' (which met an untimely demise on the banks of the Don courtesy of an over-active Salmon) and having tried some of their more recent rods I'd still say they produce robust, quality, value gear that all anglers can enjoy - no argument. Would I chose to buy one :? probably not, to be honest. Is there anything wrong with cheaper rods :? By and large, no. Fixtures and fittings might be 'value' over higher priced rods but they still cast well enough.
Arguably there are few bad rods out there, some bad lines but more and more the gear is 1st class across price ranges.

So what's the kicker here :? Should we all fish with £30 fly rods ??? Well no. I recently fished in a friendly club competition. I set up two 9'6" weight rods, one Flextec and the other an Orvis Recon. Both were 6 weights and both had the same Barrio SLX lines cast on them.
Conclusion :? The Flextec was competent but dull, the build is OK but the components are average quality and the cork handle is almost certainly becoming unstuck after 1 trip.
At short range the Flextec was OK but at longer distances it struggled and it's definitely from the noodle end of the stiffness scale. The Orvis was in a different class and - at ten times more expensive - so it should have been :!

For every twenty thousand VWs Beetles built there's probably one Lotus been built, if I could afford the Lotus I'd buy it. They're both cars..... but one is definitely more capable, a little bit sharper and the other is a VW :wink Just because one is cheaper than the other, doesn't mean it will suit everyone.

High priced gear has its place and I am fortunate to enjoy quite a lot of it, I appreciate the build, the components and the quality of the product. I might be able to get more or less the same thing from a £30 product as a £300 product but it's not quite the same. The wise angler these days find a rod they like (might be £30 or it might be £300) and spends their real money on fly lines that do the job. But that's another story.

H :cool:


“When tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

Rob Brownfield

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 14:32:26 PM »
An interesting one Hamish.

When you look at the cost of blanks, components and build time/quality, it can completely confuse things :)

For example, the Recon is a £300+ mass produced factory rod. That makes it sound poor value for money, but we both know its not.

There are several custom rod builders down south, one very well known one, who use a British blank rolling company to produce blanks. Those blanks come in at around the £40-£80 mark. Because the builders use Flor grade corks, custom, one off reel seats, the very best guides and silks, and spend a considerable time lovingly building a rod, their rods retail at £450+.

Which is the better rod?? I would "suggest" the better blank and casting tool is the Recon, the better finished rod is the custom rod. The better rod? That's down to the person parting with the cash :)

I think rod development has come along in leaps and bounds. I own one of the original Normark  Norboron rods, hailed at the time as the best reservoir rod money could buy. It has 22 carat gold plated guides and reel seat, a slim, powerful blank and casts lovely, but compared to modern rods half the price, it is no better as a fishing/casting tool and is heavy and unbalanced. Would I sell it, no chance :)

The Shakespeare Oracle range of Salmon rods has been surprising many. In "blind" tests it consistently performs well and has even knocked one or two "premium" marks out the top 5. If that blank was fitted with top notch components, I could see that sitting at 2 times the price and no one would bat an eyelid.

We are lucky, we have some fantastic gear kicking around at very reasonable prices, long may it last :)
Ok, I admit it, I quite like this salmon fishing lark....

Derek Roxborough

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2016, 19:48:09 PM »
Would the average angler notice the difference in a blind test, not every one has the spare readies to spend mega-bucks on a rod, which is why I build my own,  on decent Blanks (Thanks Sandy) I have had a few expensive rods and it frightened the life out of me using them up the hill on the rough type of hill loch fishing I do,I bought my Grand daughter a shaky 7ft 3wt and it is a super rod £25 with tube ,Delivered, it's what you feel comfortable with, easgach 1

Marc Fauvet

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 14:55:15 PM »
to heck with the cheapo stuff. i want fancy and expensive kit because i'm worth it...  :z4 :roll :z4

on a more serious note with aesthics aside, rod guides on cheapos tend to be well.. crap.
they wear out much faster all the while eating up fly lines and that's no good.

Derek Roxborough

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2016, 20:40:27 PM »
Never found that Mark,the cheapo rods I have had all seem to be decently finished,a State pension doesn't stretch to expensive rods, :shock, but there you go  :z12 easgach 1

Terry Coging

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2016, 12:21:15 PM »
Re guide wear.  The guides on my 3 y/o Shaky are still good. The guides on 3 more expensive rods are worn and  I hesitate to use them any more. The stripper guide insert fell out of one.
I have no doubt that Sage and Hardy etc will out perform Shakespear in just about every way.  I have tried high end stuff but I am not into trick casting or pride of ownership.  Might just treat myself to a Sage one day though  :wink
Most of us use a range of rod lengths and lines and the cheaper rods allow me to match  good quality lines to each rod.
About 30 years ago I sold C98 blanks from Taiwan (Loomis designed mandrels I believe). Prices ranged for £19 to £26.  Those same blanks ended up with all sorts of rod builders names on them. Still got a couple and still OK to go fishing with.  One 10' rod rated at #7/8 was the only rod I took to the Highlands.  One rod/reel/line and flybox.  The outfit was OK for wee brownies and even landed salmon to 16lb on the Cassley.  Oh those simple uncomplicated days.....

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2016, 12:34:34 PM »
Aye have the 12.9 shakey scandi and 9ft 5wt Agility rise and both are cracking rods for not a lot of cash.

Hardly surprising though if Garry Scott involved with the development.

Iain Stewart

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2016, 13:19:57 PM »
Must confess it really is the question "What is Quality" Go on Eddie / Steven have a groan I am at it again. Quality is the meeting or exceeding of customer expectation and therefore cheap or expensive can meet this requirement so therefore is considered quality products to that individual.

Personally I have a mix of rods. Do my cheap ones bring me please, why yes they do 8'5" 3wt had me giggling like a bairn on Loch Lee as a 3/4 lb trout burrowed for the bottom and leaned in to no avail and that rod cost me £30. Do I like fishing the top end though, yes I do. And I agree with Hamish that once you get beyond basic fishing requirements you are entering specialist territory and this is where the difference kicks in. Much like the Beetle v Lotus analogy. Both go from A to B with much the same capability, but if you wanted to get from A to B at warp speed then Beetle wouldn't be my choice. However this is specialist requirements for the motor as you may say my priority is large boot capacity and therefore a landie is preferred over both of them.

Happily we have lots of choices out there for not just cheapo gear, but second hand rods of exceptional value too as well as the elite side of the market to drool over. Can you tell the difference in a rod? Of course you can. But can you justify it to yourself? (Usually yes I can), but then all my rods cost £50 as I tell my wife.  :z4 :z4 :z18

Terry Coging

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2016, 11:46:09 AM »
One of my mates shared my boat in France last week and he was using a sage 10' #6 wt. I was using a shaky 10' #6 wt.  He out performed me 5 to 3.  There were two reasons for this. 1. he was probably a better caster than me (being head bailiff on a premier UK reservoir) and 2. his rod.
I'll explain - the lake was higher than I have known it for 10 years. It is a  1000 acre wild peaty lake and the fish (large stocked rainbows) were hard to find. We did find them  among the flooded channels between the peat beds, reeds and scrub.  The side wind was quite strong and we had to keep dropping anchor opposite the tight inlets to give us a chance of casting up the narrow spaces between the 3 feet high or so margins.  We had to make accurate overhead casts. His 'Sage' casts were much straighter than my 'Shaky' casts.  I was often in the reeds due to losing tip energy on the turnover.  It made me realise that with cross winds I have been compensating quite a lot with varying 'side' to get good turnover.  OK, special circumstances but I still caught fish on a rod costing less than 10% of the Sage.

Derek Roxborough

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2016, 14:31:41 PM »
I have a home built Lefty Kreh, a friend of mine was quite surprised when it performed almost as well as his Orvis Hydro, cost me about £60 to build, I had recovered all the bits from a broken rod some one had given me I sectioned a recovered reel winch and made it into a walnut one I did buy new, quality, snakes and a stripping guide (I'm not a cheapskate you know) I just don't like waste, it's a good rod and not just because I made it , easgach 1

Terry Coging

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2016, 20:54:53 PM »
Sorting out my rods today and found that the tip ring on the Shakespear Agility #7 10' was missing? As a matter of interest I tried  fitting a top section that I had found in a bush at Clywedog a couple of years ago.  It fitted perfectly!  It was finished and furnished better than the Shaky and probably from a more expensive rod. I used a micrometer to measure the taper.  Exactly the same as the Shaky! Makes you wonder about blank sourcing and makers names and claims!!

ps - the top was a bit gunged up had been submerged for a while and only became visible when water level dropped, it was history from the past season so no point in handing it in.

Terry Coging

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 11:42:23 AM »
I bought another Shaky last week.  A 10' #5 Agility mk2 for £58 delivered.  I have used a mk1 of the same size for a season and  liked it so much  that it has become the most used rod.  I often set 2 rods up  with different rigs and wanted another 5 weight.  (I like 5 weights). The mk2 is more slender than the mk1 and is slightly faster.  A dream to use and punches a #5 med sinker into a brisk headwind.  Unlike the heavier weight 10 footers the #5 has no fighting butt. I like a short fighting butt mainly to protect the reel when standing the rod up.  Making and fitting a butt was quite an easy mod though - think I have now got the perfect rod  :wink
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 18:03:30 PM by TC »

Dave Robb

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2017, 13:52:07 PM »
I recently got a 10ft 5# Orvis Recon which I've only had out a few times so far, but it is noticeably very light for casting with.  It's almost half the weight of the Shakespeare Agility.  Weight is an important factor, specially when you have to factor in a reel as well.

I also have a Hardy Gem from years back.  It's 14 years old, has been used hundreds of times and still looks barely used because I have looked after it.  I expect the same of the Recon, even more if Orvis stick to their guarantee should anything happen to it.

I do believe though that cheap tackle will catch as many fish as expensive tackle, it's all down to the fisherman.  Think of all the fancy gadgets, lures, flies etc you get these days.  Our forefathers never had yet caught plenty of fish (I appreciate stocks were higher).

Fly tying vices.  You can get dirt cheap vices which can barely hold a hook.  Or you spend upwards of £100 and buy a proper vice.  I have a good vice now but when I was a kid I managed with a cheap vice and still caught plenty of fish.  I probably caught more as a kid as I had a lot more patience and would tolerate bad weather more than I do now.

Not all my stuff is expensive, I buy what I can afford or I get presents but dearer stuff is noticeably better in my opinion.  There's quite a few bits of Simms and Harkilla clothing I want but struggling to justify the price for now.

Always seem to find it easier to justify spending on tackle rather than clothing.


Derek Roxborough

Re: Cheap rods
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2017, 18:27:38 PM »
I have a regent style vice I have had it over 10yrs and in was 2nd hand when I got it, and the jaws are still fine and it will do me till I shuffle of this mortal coil :X2 easgach 1

 




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