Nov 15

Remember Albright?

Albright GP's

Albright GP’s

The emails were as frequent as they were slightly misleading. SALE! Everyday a SALE of some kind or another and you had to ACT FAST to take advantage… except you didn’t need to act fast because the sale price was the every day price.

That was Albright for you. Some years ago now the emails stopped and I didn’t even realize it. Albright shut down, although their shell of a website says warranties are still honored.

I own two of their rods. I have an 8/9 rod that was the first rod I got to do anything in the salt, quickly replaced by a better stick, and a spinning rod I got to chase after jacks and cudas. Oddly enough, I’ve had way more joy out of the spinning rod, although I recently cracked one of the ferrules out prospecting on the beach here.

I guess we are fortunate that we live in a time where a company like Albright can disappear and I don’t even notice it. We are flush with options, most of them pretty good, at a variety of price points, from just over $100 to well over $700 when it comes to rods capable of casting to a bonefish.

They had reels too and it felt like they tried to branch out into other gear as well, but my memory is fuzzy here and it isn’t like I can go research on their website. Whatever it was they did, didn’t work. Fly fishing is a tough market to crack, I’d think. It matters profoundly to those of us who are passionate about it, but we are not so numerous as we sometimes think we are and the established players are very, very established.

So long Albright. My inbox doesn’t miss you.

May 12

A conversation with the Albright President

I have sounded off on Albright a few times.  Their marketing drives me kind of crazy with a constant “70% off sale” that isn’t so much a sale as it is pretty much what their every day prices are.

Instead of just continuing to gripe about it, I decided to write a note through their customer service email form.

Funny thing.  The President of the company wrote back. After a couple exchanged emails my phone rang and I got to talk to the Prez. himself.

I expressed how much I disliked their constant “sale” approach and the silliness of the $1,000 MSRP on the EXT fly rod.  He admitted that the $1,000 MSRP was sloppy and they fixed that a while back. He also revealed something that I found pretty surprising.  Their strategy works.  They have something like 10K or 15K names on their email list and they get something like a 20% open rate.  Now, knowing something about email marketing I have to say… Whoa.  That’s actually phenomenal.

They feel pretty strongly about the quality of their gear. The sticks are made in Korea but all the components are made in the US and they don’t pull punches with the components. See… wouldn’t that be nice to hear about?

One thing you have to give Albright… they were way ahead of most of the market on selling direct.  Now everyone is doing it.  More and more companies are doing it.  Not everyone does… not yet, but that the trend.  Of course, the shops are slowly going away, but that is probably a trend well beyond just fly fishing.

The 70% off sale does something else too… it plays into the Grouponization of the consumer.  People don’t pay retail anymore.  They wait, they look for deals.

I’ve been looking for someone who owns one of the EXT rods. I want to know what the consumer has to say.  It could be that I even take one to Belize when I go in September. I really want to see how it stacks up.  If you have one, give a shout. I’d love to get your feedback.

One way or another, it was nice to talk directly to the source.

By the way… I actually own an Albright GP.


Sep 10

How Albright is Like the Discount Furniture Store

I got an email recently from Albright, the direct sales rod/reel/fly line/fly company.  The email said “up to 70% off!”

Now, before I go any further, let’s just be clear.  I don’t mean this post as a criticism of Albright as a company… lord knows I’ve learned to tread on that ground fairly lightly.  However… I do have an observation or two to make.

Have you ever shopped one of those discount furniture stores?  I have and I’m always a little amused at the tags “50% off” is something you see often.  Is it really a sale if no one has ever paid 100% of that price?  If the sale price of a couch is $500 and it sells for $500 all over the country, can they really say that the full price is $1,000?  I’m going to say… not so much.

Albright does provide some good value for the dollar, but to say they are having a “sale” would imply that their rods/reels are sold at the non-sale price most of the time.  The definition of the word in this context is “a special disposal of goods, as at reduced prices.”  I have yet to see the Albright site with non-sale prices.  I did notice that the GP 8/9 that I own is now half the price (about $45) that it was when my brother bought it for me as a gift, but it was in the closeout section as they now have a GPX series in the “passably fit for saltwater” slot.

In terms of inexpensive gear, Albright is kind of hard to beat.  However, I like to buy gear from people I know and shops I like.  Albright is a direct-sales outfit, bypassing the whole shop structure.  Basically, Frank or Bob aren’t going to carry this rod and if they aren’t going to carry it, I’m not likely to buy it.

If you are listening Albright, I think you could use a tweak to the “SALE!” strategy.  After announcing a sale every few weeks, the polish is kind of coming off that one.

As a side note, if you want your Gotcha’s or your Shane’s Psycho Puff by the dozen, the prices at Albright are about a buck a  fly.

Here are some thoughts on that GP I have from casting down in Vallarta last winter.


Apr 10

Rods, Rods and More Rods

When getting ready to move I had to try and reign in the chaos that had spread from from one or two bins in the garage to several bins of fly fishing gear, each exploding and overflowing all over a large shelf.   Something clearly had to be done.

In those bins I found… a surprising number of my daughter’s socks, a few beer bottle caps, twigs/sand/dirt, lots of bits of tippet, a few salvageable flies,  a couple of lines I forgot I had (a surplus 5 wt. clear intermediate sink and a 9 wt. sink tip), a few of the indicators I like to put on my line (off the water) when tight-line nymphing for trout, a couple of broken reels and mismatched heavy socks and fingerless gloves.

Order is restored.  My wife will be happy.  I’ll be able to find the gear I’m looking for again and the movers didn’t break anything.

It is clear from a rod perspective, I am well covered from most anything from #2 to #9… included here… a #2, #3/4, #4, #4, #5, #5, #5, #7, #7, #8, #8/9, #9.   Yes… that’s 12 rods (although, technically, the #2 is my three year old daughter’s.  Cheap is clearly the theme… 5 of these rods are TFO’s.  One is an Elkhorn.  One is a T&T (my favorite 5 wt.). One is a custom rod  raffled off for the Shasta Fly Fishers.  One is an Albright. On the pricey side, one is an R.L. Winston and two are Sage.

It is fun to look at all those rods and think back to the special memories I’ve had with each. The future seems somehow brighter when you know you have the right tools for the work ahead.

Jan 10

My Toolbox for GBI

OK… I have all my rods/reels/lines.  I’m ready… now the weather just has to cooperate.

Rods... not "poles." Never "poles."

The 7 weight
Rod: TFO Axiom
Reel: Okuma Helios
Line: SA Bonefish Line

The 8 weight
Rod: TFO Clouser
Reel: TFO Large Arbor
Line: Teeny Bruce Chard Bonefish

The 8/9 weight
Rod: Albright GP
Reel: Ross CLA 5
Line: Teeny Flip Pallot Bonefish

Dec 09

Getting Geared Up

My Bahamas trip is coming up… well, in a month, but still, I’m gathering the gear I need.  I’ve decided what rods and reels I’ll be sporting.  Here’s the deets:

Rod #1

  • 8 wt. TFO Clouser 8’9″ 4 pc. – My local fly shop (Off the Hook) is making me a deal on this rod and from the folks I’ve talked to it seems like a really sweet stick.  It is intended to throw big bugs and heavy lines, so we’ll see how it does with the Rio Bonefish line I have coming for it. I’ve read that the folks who have used it have not missed those missing 3 inches.
  • TFO Large Arbor – A sweet, sweet looking reel.
  • Rio Bonefish Line Bruce Chard Bonefish Line by Teeny– 8 wt – Have not cast this line yet.  I was going to fish the Rio line but talked to a guy who had his Rio line basically fall apart on him down in Belize.  So, I switched to the Bruce Chard line.

The reel is in the mail

Rod #2

  • 8/9 wt. Albright GP 9′ 4 pc. – I cast this rod a little down in Vallarta, but never with the line/flies that I’d be using on the flats.
  • Ross CLA 5 – I used this last trip on my 10′ 9wt. Good, solid reel capable of hanging in there with a dream-size bonefish.
  • Scientific Angler Bonefish Line – 9 wt. – Used this line last year.  It feels a little heavy for shallow water situations, but part of that may have been the rod.  We’ll see.


Now, I would have also brought my St. Croix Legend Ultra, but  it was stolen in Mexico… so… well, that makes it impossible to do that see.  I guess I could invent a time machine, but I’m kind of busy raising my daughter and tying flies.

Nov 09

My Albright Rod Gets Wet

I got my $80 Albright GP rod wet today for the first time.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it casts about like an $80 rod.  Probably would be better had I not been throwing a 2/0 popper.  Certainly did a better job than my 7 wt. would have done.

The rod is a bit on the slow side of actions, which takes a bit of getting used to.  Of course, that’s not Albright’s fault, and for $80, what can you really expect?

Glad I have it along and I hope I can find a fish worthy of the 8/9 wt. rating of the rod.  Certainly, the Jack Crevalle I had a couple days ago would have done the trick, but that was on my St. Croix Legand Ultra 7 wt., which seemed too light a stick for that particular fish (that rod was stolen a day or so after writing this, as it turns out).

Albright’s next rod up isn’t THAT much more expensive.  This rod was a gift (and an awesome gift), but if I were buying on my own, I might add another $50 to the purchase and move up a rod to see what that one is like.  I’m not a fly shop or magazine, so I don’t get to test a bunch of rods and decide which one I like.  I have to buy them (or have family members buy them for gift giving events) and then see how they fish.

UPDATE: Well, my St. Croix ended up getting stolen, so I used the Albright the last  two days.  I needed a sinking line so put my 7 wt. sink tip on the 8/9 rod.  Ya know what?  It actually worked out pretty well.  In the last two days of fishing, using this improvised set-up I probably landed 50-60 fish in about 5 hours of fishing… which should make just about anyone happy unless they are a total SOB.  The rod felt great with fish on… of course, having a fish on probably would feel good if I would have been fishing with a broom stick and dental floss.  Still, my estimation of the rod has increased.  I’m still looking forward to finding the right line(s) for this rod to really see what it can do.

That's the Albright GP

Aug 09

Three Bonefish Rods Under $200

It seems the most folks look toward 8 weights when going after bones.  Sage seems to be the rod folks talk about most often.  The Z-Axis looks great… and costs $690 or so.  If you are on the water every day, or if you have the scratch, it might make good sense.  I think there is a threshold of fishing days/year where it makes sense.  For me… for 95% of folks going after bonefish, I’m guessing we aren’t there, although “there” sounds like a lovely place where my wife would never be able to find a job that would pay enough to support my lavish and bonefish-centric lifestyle.  So… since I don’t live “there,” how about some rods that will ease the pressure on your wallet while still allowing you to put the right amount of pressure on the fish.

Echo – Ion – $190

The Echo Ion

Echo Rods… these rods are pretty durable and just might come with a tiny bit of the Rajeff fishing mojo.  I got to talk to Tim Rajeff at a fishing show and got to  play with one of these rods.  Medium-Fast action and a great price.  This is probably the best rod under $200.

TFO – Lefty Kreh Professional – $150

TFO Professional

TFO really started the low-price party a few years back.  I own two of these rods and a third TFO.  I’ve been consistently impressed with the quality of these rods.  I’d call them on the fast end of Med-Fast.  I can tell  you that their repair service is quick… broken my 4 wt. lots of times.

Albright – GP – $114 (the updated GPX)

Albright GP’s

This is a split weight rod… 8/9 is the one that just was dropped off at the house.  While the price tag really can’t be beat, the delivery guy did run over some of my daughter’s sidewalk chalk, so I’ll say this cost a total of $84.  This is not the world’s best, best piece of hardware… but it will do the job.  It’s on the slower end of Med-Fast, but if you haul, you can get the fly there.  Remember, guys used to do this with Bamboo and Fiberglass… this rod is certainly better than those options and it is the rod I’m going to take with me to the Bahamas when (oh God, please let it be) I go in Spring 2010.

Aug 09

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.