Silly Priced Bonefish Rods

In my search to be as cheap a bastard as I possibly can, I’ve been intrigued by the Albright Fishing Company.  They have a rod (the GP series) that they are selling for about $80.  The one I have looking at is a split weight rod… 8/9, 4 piece.  I have not been a fan of split weight rods, but, at $80… my interest has been piqued.  It was for that reason that I asked my bro for that very rod for my birthday.  I have been informed that it will be making it’s way to the Bonefish Fantasy Capital of the world, here in the Sierra Foothills.

There are other great cheap rod companies out there.  Echo and TFO spring to mind.  The both have very serviceable rods for under $200.  The $200 threshold seems very reasonable, really and I’m sure that they compete well with the $500-$800 rods that sprinkle the pages of glossy ff magazines.  Breaking the $100 barrier seems excessively cheap… but that’s the kind of guy I am.

I’ll be taking the Albright Rod with me, I hope, when I go to the Bahamas in the Spring (2010).

In the end, I think it is important to remember that what is or isn’t a bonefishing rod is largely up to you.  An $80 rod will likely be slower than a $800 rod, the components will be lower quality, but remember that folks have caught bonefish on all manner of rods.  With modern graphite rods, you know they’ll work to a point.  If you are fishing in the Keys and are an excellent caster, you might get 20% more out of a really high end rod, I’d imagine.  For the masses in most situations, I don’t think it matters.

I ended up buying two new TFO rods for my trip and bringing the Albright GP along.  I only cast the GP a little bit, but one of those instances was casting a 1/0 popper with a wire leader and… the rod did very well… I was impressed.

I doubt I’ll own another $700 rod.  Personally, I don’t see the value there and I hate being charged for the label… that’s my impression/belief and I’m sticking to it.

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  1. Capt Mel Simpson

    A Carolina Skiff does not “compete well” with those $30K -$40K flats boats “that sprinkle the glossy ff magazines”, and the “cheap rods” don’t compete well with the high $$ ones either.

    I cast fly rods every day in my job both as a guide and part time employee at a fly shop. I also have a lifetime of experience going back to the cain and glass fly rods. I think it’s preposterous what some fly fishing celebrities have done to the fly rod market, selling the public with “this rod casts as good as” comments.

    There is a reason that people buy a Porche Cayenne instead of Kia Portage other than “because they can”.


  2. I am very, very sure that the high priced rods are wonderful… but I am equally sure that a $700 rod won’t catch most angles any more fish than a $200 rod. When I got the chance to go to the Babine for steelhead I had a choice of a Sage or a TFO when looking for a 10′ 9 wt. The Sage was $700, the TFO was $175. I went with the TFO and on the first day caught an 18 pound buck steelhead on a skating dry.

    Sure, the TFO was heavier and casting all day, over and over… ya get plenty tired, but if you get the fly in the right spot, it works. It might not work as well as what you get with the extra cashish, but it works.

    My first trout rod was a combo backpacking rod from the 50’s that I found in my grandfather’s belongings. Really, it was a horrible rod, but I caught fish on it… plenty of fish and I like the fact that I made it work.

    If bonefishing is something you get to do one or five times a year, I’m pretty sure an Echo is a better choice for you than a Sage or Scott… at least from an ROI perspective. The Albright… we’ll see… $89 is a pretty cheap rod and I have not cast the thing yet, so, I’m curious to see how it feels.

  3. Capt Mel Simpson

    I would think it is a pretty low value placed on the experience (return on investment) if you plan on taking a $89 rod to The Bahamas bonefishing.

    For me the 9 trips I’ve made to the Dean, dozens of trips both to the Carribean and Mexico and the 30 years fly fishing Florida have all been in pursuit of the greatest game fish in the world. There’s no way I’m using a cheap rod on a fish of a lifetime experience. Even if I didn’t understand the difference in the quality.


  4. I love gear… I have 11 rods, some of them more spendy than others. I just find a little bit of beauty in proving that you can do it on cheap gear. I reserve the right to be go back and forth on all this… I have Patagonia wading boots… which are way pricey when compared to the guide gear that I saw in Kauai… a pair of Croks.

    I kind of like the idea of cathing bones on an $89 rod… that said, I’ll also have 2 back up rods… ya know… just in case.

  5. Trip of a lifetime? Bah! Save on gear and go often, I say. Two cheap rods are better than a single expensive one in terms of redundancy, the latter not to be ignored as replacements can be very hard to come by at most destinations. Rods are created for different scenarios, heavy/light flies, long/short casts and so on. They require various techniques to generate desired (not highest) line speed. Throw into the mix that what really matters is a line/rod combo, and that should be matched the fisherman’s preferred casting stroke for the specific application. And then consider that casting for bonefish is fairly easy. And consider that many of the cheaper rods of today are better and/or more advanced than the high-end rods of 10 years ago. People have caught bonefish on the fly since the sixties.

    it’s pretty obvious you should get a rod/line combo (and backup) that you can cast well with (bonefish style). I would focus on consistency (high percentage “good-enough” casts) 30-55 feet in windy conditions. Ignore the 90 feet casts in full gale, leave that to the ad agencies. Having experienced missing luggage and availability of loaner rods three notches below what you could find at a Walmart outlet mall in the cheap part of China, I am convinced rods are not important at all.

    if you’re going to fish salt regularly, better spend money on a reel. A reputable one with a proven track record. If not you’ll be buying a new one every two years (like I did)…

  6. Ah, Some guy… I like where your head’s at!

  7. So I spend a few thousand dollars on a trip. I spend five figures on some, and a hellof a lot less on more.

    I like good gear. Congratulations on that $89 rod. If you like it, wonderful. I am old fashioned. Good gear is, simply, better. I’ve been fishing for bonefish for many years (40). Simply stated, good rods are better. It isn’t the marketing, as some want to say Often) . It is simply the good stuff is bette the technology is better. Sure, bamboo was a standard,,,but when (for bones). Same with glass.

    No a good rod won’t make you a better caster, that’s up to you. Lefty could use a broomstick (which he often did) and show 70′. But who the hell wants to cast a broomstick.

    Again, if you’re shelling out $4-5000 for a trip, do your really want skimp on equipment? Your call, but I figure it is a bit illogical. Plus, when you buy something really good, do you really remember the cost?

  8. OK. Please forgive typos and out of context sentencing in my post.. Sister Dominic would never forgive.

    Enjoy the sport. Use what you want, of course — who am I to say. However if I had a choice between an Abel or a Hatch or a tricked out Pfluger… Is there a issue. (in his book from 2003 on Salt Water Fly Fishing, Lefty described how one could cut out the side of a Pfluger, and use a piece of leather to control the line going out. A primitive drag on a bonefishing reel. You could save a lotto dough today and do the samewith it. I’d rather not). Regardless, what a fine sport this fly fishing on the flats is.

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