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.