View Full Version : can someone explain?

11-18-2009, 11:05 PM
Can someone explain to me why a TFO rod cost a $149 to $199 while a sage cost from $200 up. I know the difference in the fact that TFO is korean made but what is the differences when it comes to the build and/or quality of the rods. I have a hard time making myself buy a TFO (korean) rod versus other rods but for the money and from what I see I cannot understand the differences. I do not believe it is the cosmetics for they seem similar. And what is the difference that makes one rod $700 v/s $199. I am not trying to be sarcastic or mean I trully do not understand. I have never built rods and that is why I am trying to learn if it is something in the build or is it just a prestige thing to own the higher end rods. All my rods are of higher end value but my fishing partner fishes TFO'S and darn I can't really see a difference except price and cosmetics. Any help in understanding this I would greatly appreciate. Thanks.

11-19-2009, 03:19 AM
Higher modules of graphite *biggest reason*, premo cork, better hardware (guides, reel seats, hook keeper, etc.), If you've ever owned a TFO the corks are horrible using lots of filler, which is extremely unpleasant while casting! It all has to do with feel.

TFO makes nice rods, for cheap, and have exceptional warranties but doesn't compare in my mind to a Sage, Winston, or a Orvis Helios!

Visit MUDHOLE.com to really understand why. Check the prices on things and you'll get a clearer picture of the differences in prices on the blanks, graphite, alone!

Alot of the diff in rods is what your trying to accomplish doing with them.


11-19-2009, 06:52 AM
can you compare a yugo with a chevy suburban.they both get you where you want to go just how you get there and pride in ownership.sage lower price rods was yesterdays best technology. i prefer the yesterdays technology to the best tfo.

11-19-2009, 08:39 AM
It all depends on how deep your pockets are;) I've fished them all, all of them will catch fish.
No one in the business has a better warranty than TFO, you can't get a $700 rod returned within a week:eek:
I like my high $$ rods & have no complaints with the cheaper ones. I have heard that there are a few breeds of fish that will not bite a bug if it is cast on foreign made rods & that they swim up & down streams with the high $$ banners on their sides with their noses up in the air, i avoid those unless i happen to have that particular brand with me that day:biggrin:


11-19-2009, 09:37 AM
It's really more about the stickers on your vehicle than the label on your rod. :biggrin:

11-19-2009, 09:55 AM
It is capitalism in action and a beautiful thing.

11-19-2009, 10:56 AM
Fishermans fly thank you for that insight. That is a well defined answer that I was searching for. Billyspey I feel the same as you. As I have stated many times before I don't buy TFO unless it is a rod of cause ex: Breast cancer, Healing waters. I have orvis, sage, winstons and I love them all but the recent growth in these korean rods left a debate between me and some people. They called me a gear guy (one who is more worried about names than gear) and simply ask how fancy a stick you need to catch a fish when you only got out 9 ft of line? I am looking at purchasing another rod soon, what I am looking at is the flight series or another launch (can not afford the zxl yet) what is your opinions on these two rods. I know it is up to me on the way they feel but I am talking about component make up and craftsmanship?

11-19-2009, 11:42 AM
You will definately see a difference in the quality of components from the entry level rods of TFO's and the higher end Winston, Sage, etc. But if you are looking at the entry level rods offered by Sage now, you will see similar components as the imports but still pay the slightly higher costs for buying an American made production rod. I can get the Nickel Silver reel seat hardware for a Winston for about $60 retail where I could get an aluminum reel seat hardware commonly found on the less expensive models for well less than half of that. The best cork rings can cost up to $3 or more for a ring and you will need 10-14 rings depending on what type of grip you want. On the other hand you can also get some pretty bad rings for .50 and use filler material to make it look better on the shelf. Guides are the same way. I have built functional bamboo rods that fish and cast great that I outfitted with components for less $30 but the majority of the rods I have built take about $200 worth of components retail and that's not including the price of a blank since I make those as well. Do you need clean and void free cork, fancy exotic wood insert for your nickel silver reel seat attached to a state of the art space age technology blank to catch a fish using fur and feathers on a hook? No. But you will buy what you can afford and cherish it because you know that you bought what you wanted because you can. Enjoy the pursuit of your next rod and make sure you cast before you buy because that is really all that matters.

11-19-2009, 02:56 PM
Great points GMREEVES. And I can say from being in your shop you definately go to the nth degree for quality. I value your opinion and insight. Like I was saying I am just trying to get a little research in so that I can make good quality judgements on this issue. I love the bamboo but everyone I see lately has some TFO rod for less money trying to convert me over because of price. I like american made products and I like my rods I just did not know all the info on the cost of components and so forth that made a rod more expensive. Thanks guys.

11-19-2009, 08:08 PM
One other question on this subject. Several years ago when I started buying my first fly rods, I remember Thomas and Thomas being a well stocked rod and lots of people liked them. Now there does not seem to be as many dealers around and I was wondering what changed? They have always been a very georguos rod. Just trying to find that out.

11-19-2009, 08:30 PM
They are or were good rods. I bought mine years and years ago. I've got three of their graphites and two of their bamboos and will not part with them. I too noticed you don't see them at shops much.

11-20-2009, 08:17 AM
i have a friend who was t&t dealer he drop them no sales . just didn't keep up with times . pretty rods but weight more than others

11-20-2009, 09:38 AM
FR, If you are looking for comparables, take a look at St. Croix, as well. I have a few TFOs and really like them (and their warranty), but this past year decided that I wanted something made in the US, so I was leaning toward the Sage Launch or St. Croix Avid. After casting them both, I decided on the Avid (even though I liked the looks of the Launch better).

Both are great values if you are wanting to keep your costs down, and buy American. Another option is the St. Croix Imperial, which is even less expensive than the Launch or the Avid and is almost made in the states (Mexico..."Handcrafted in North America"). Ted Myers told me it was one of the best rods he had ever cast for the money...

11-20-2009, 10:57 AM
Good advise Pete. I have an 8wt st. croix and it does a fine job. I have cast some of the legand ultras and their very nice. Thats why I love this board. You guys have some great knowledge and are always great to share. I hope no one thinks I am disrespecting TFO cause I am not. They seem to be fine rods for their price. I just wanted more insight on the differences....and yes I always try to buy american when possible. Thats why I have switched over from years of orvis reels to now nautilus and ross. Once again thanks for the suggestion on the rod pete.

11-20-2009, 10:21 PM
st croix is a favorite really like the legend ultra in 9 ft. 5 wt. on par with winston biix

11-20-2009, 10:42 PM
billyspey I have 2 winstons and one st. croix and I not to sure I would put them in the same catagory. St. Croix are good rods no question but I hold winstons in very high standards. The biggest problem I have with winstons is that ugly green reel seat. LOL. I will definately take your advise and look into St. Croix again.

David Knapp
11-21-2009, 11:59 AM
Personally, I like my St. Croix LU for all around fishing better than the Winston's I have cast and/or fished. The Winston is a little soft for my taste. If I was just wanting to have fun and was fishing dries, the Winston would probably be better though...its all a matter of perspective and what you are wanting the rod to do for you...

11-21-2009, 05:46 PM
I wish there was a fly fishing manufacturer that made everything (flies to rods) in the U.S.A.

James Buice
11-21-2009, 05:56 PM
I believe I was told a TFO costs around $20 to make overseas. Don't know what tax is to bring it over, but I'd gamble that if you look at what TFO charges for a rod vs cost to build and what Scott or Sage (American made companies, save the Sage Launch where the blanks are made overseas) charge for a rod vs cost to build, you'll find the TFO has a higher margin due to cheap components and very cheap labor.

I know at Scott all of the components that go into our top end rods like the G2, S4S, and S4 are high quality. For instance, the new S4S saltwater rod has a type III anodized reelseat custom made for us, all titanium concept guides and strippers, plus the material used to reinforce the rods (we call it ARC, Sage has their own name for it, but it is a lightweight, strong fiber that is about half the thickness of a human hair...really) is very, very expensive, but it's how we can build them light while maintaining hoop strength (the ability to keep the rod round when it bends which makes it less likely to compress and shatter/break). Another unique thing the higher end rod manfs do is blend different types of graphite throughout the blank in order to achieve the perfect harmony between taper and material, using higher modulus graphite where the rod needs speed and a lower modulus in areas where more strength/lift is needed. This technology and the advanced adhesives, scrim, and ARC (which I spoke about earlier) jumps the raw material/labor cost alone up substantially. I believe the Scott G2, S4, and S4S all have 5 or more different types of graphite layered up throughout the blank, plus ARC, plus a tad of cosmic voodoo. All of these things make the rods have a higher strength to weight coefficient and lets you be able to cast a 10' or 80' with equal ease yet still have a tip soft enough to land a massive brown on 7x or whip a 150lb tarpon without having a graphite grenade go off in your hand.

I always tell people, if you are a good caster, you can immediately tell the difference between a high end and low end rod. Then on the water, it becomes even more evident. Like my friend Jim Mauries who owns a fly shop in Nashville says, if you put a Scott, Sage, Winston and TFO rod on a table, tell a guy to pick one out for free, he's never going with the low end for a reason. Now, the question for the person buying a new rod is can they justify the price difference? Some can, some cannot. I think you can get equal performance from a Scott A3 or Sage Flight as you can from a TFO, so that's $300 for a US made rod from companies that have been around for decades vs offshore mass production.

To give an example away from fly fishing, my dad is one of the top custom wild turkey call makers in the country. His calls are literally ten times or more the cost of a mass produced store bought turkey call. Will both call in a turkey on a given day? Sure. But to know that someone who is passionate about the sport, took the time to hand hone, carve, and tune every aspect of the call, brush on the varnish, then hand sign and number the call before shipping it means a lot to me and many others. Bottom line is, sure, you can go get a blister pack box call from Wal Mart, got out and call in a turkey, but will you be giving that call to your children or pull it out with pride and show your friends or look down at it on the slow days and admire the quality of workmanship that can be found in so few things these days.

Yeah, kind of got off topic for a second. Sorry. Man, now I kinda want to go turkey hunting. Is April here yet? Ah well, heard the Davidson is fishing. Off to get my fix.


11-21-2009, 07:47 PM
James Buice,

Thanks for that insight on the subject. I want a z axis or a winston bIIx but right now the money is slow. I have winstons, orvis and sage in my lots but I was wanting a few new rods and several of my buddies use the TFO rods, but myself, I just can't make myself like them after fishing and owning such finer rods.

11-22-2009, 11:52 AM
Well,my input on this will be shallow since I'm a newbie,but,I have a TFO Finesse and it's a good rod...for me,and one thing I've noticed already is something that was mentioned before,there's a good bit of filler in the cork handle,and it is coming out only after a few trips of fishing.Now,I have an old Wright & McGill fiberglass that I've used for about 45 years and it's had a good bit of abuse,the cork is as tight and full as ever.Small point but one that matters to me.
I've just bought a St. Croix Avid,and in the future would like to buy other USA made rods,like ones that have been mentioned here.At the end of the day,I will have only caught a few small trout with whatever rod I had,but dang it,I would rather do it with a rod that an American citizen made.
I guess I'm just one of that generation that hates to see "Made in China" on everything I pick up,not the mention the "Made in Vietnam" tag on something I saw the other day.:frown:

11-22-2009, 02:50 PM
I believe I was told a TFO costs around $20 to make...James, I believe that's what's commonly called "heresay", and pretty vague at that...

As to the ad copy, a bs alert may be appropriate.

However, since you are a Scott rep, how about telling us exactly what it actually costs to manufacture a Scott rod (and where the components come from).


Scott Spencer
11-22-2009, 04:38 PM
However, since you are a Scott rep, how about telling us exactly what it actually costs to manufacture a Scott rod (and where the components come from).
That would be interesting to read and know as well. Hopefully James will follow up and break down the costs and origin of components of a Scott rod for us.

11-22-2009, 08:54 PM
Rebelsoul upon this post I have really come to notice alot of people mentioning the st. croix rods. I to like the made in the USA lable and for the price of their high end rods they are attainable. I do feel (only personal opinion) that for some of these nicer rod companies to compete, then there has to be a ceiling to the amount of money one can charge for a rod. Winston, Sage and Thomas and Thomas are all top notch rods but for a guy who fishes as many different situations as I do I can not afford 5 or 6 different high end rods. I do try to buy me one a year and this year looks alot like a z axis but after that I might stay with the st. croix. American made and affordable. Now that is just what I have learned from this post. I am not trying to leave scott rods out I just do not have any experience with them. This has been a very educational posting and I thank everyone for there imputs.

11-22-2009, 09:26 PM
Two years ago I bought a TFO Finesse, 7'9" 4wt. In those two years, that rod has taken a good bit of abuse. I do a lot of fishing on high gradient streams so my rod gets banged around on boulders, tossed up to free up both hands for climbing and bent and banged while bushwacking. So far, so good.

I bought a TFO to begin with because I didn't want to invest in high end equipment while I was learning to fly fish. Didn't know at the time that the learning never stops but I can't think of a good reason at this point to invest in another rod. I've given a few rods a token swish or two at LRO but haven't been able to justify investing in one - I'm having too much fun with the one I have (cheap or not, foreign or not).

The only reason I can think of that I would want to buy another rod at this point is to go to another size and I haven't been able to justify that either. Bottom line is that my TFO is still probably a better rod than I am a fly fisherman so I reckon I'll hold onto my cheap Korean rod for a while longer. The two of us are still having too much fun to put it on the shelf at this point.

11-22-2009, 11:16 PM
nvr2L8 that is a great testomony to your rod. I have nothing against the rods and hope that everyone understands that. Another great rod that gets looked over right now and I personally can not afford is the new orvis rods. Those helios are awesome but I can not afford one of them. But as I stated before this post really has me thinking about a st. croix rod. I might just have to go out and try one of the new ones out.

11-22-2009, 11:36 PM
I wish someone would jump in here with some info on the sage flight series rods. I do not know anything about that rod but really like the price and the looks of the rods. I have the launch series in an 8 wt for bass and really seem to like it alot.

11-23-2009, 09:48 AM
The 7'9" 4 wt. TFO Finessee is the one I have,and I'm not going to throw it out at all.Like you I am hard on rods because for one I'm clumsier than I used to be,and climbing around on rocks and logs and bushwhacking is way harder than it was when I was a young man.
After a fall in Cataloochee creek I was sure it was snapped but when I got up out of the chilly water it was good to go.
One of the main reasons I wanted a new rod was I wanted a 9' 5wt.
And the St. Croix fit the bill just right.

Tiger fly
11-23-2009, 12:33 PM
I can't speak for the new Flight rods but I have a 9' 4wt Sage Fli. I took it out West this fall and ended up using it over all the other rods my wife and I took (ECHO 2, Redington, TFO). I've considered myself a SAGE man since. Just got a 7wt Launch for bass fishing and I love the way they cast.

Byron Begley
11-23-2009, 09:02 PM
My favorite 12 wt is a St. Croix Avid, 9 Wt - TFO, 8 Wt - Scott, 7 Wt - TFO, 6 Wt - Winston, 5 Wt - Winston, 4 wt - Orvis and Walter Babb.

As you can see I am not biased toward any specific brand. I choose my rod based on how it casts for me or for personal reasons. I've been through and still own several 12 wt rods, most of them were expensive. I'll probably donate them to some non-profit fundraiser. But my 12 wt St. Croix Avid is not for sale. They don't make them anymore. My 8 wt Scott could not be bought. We've been through a lot together. They don't make it anymore. It is 10 years old or more. My Orvis Flea and Walter Babb rod will be mine until the last day. They could not be replaced.

Paula and I have and use often, 5 TFO Professional Series rods. They are inexpensive. We think they cast great. I don't notice the cork or components that come with a $140 rod. I have a hard enough time keeping an eye on my fly and the fish.

Most manufacturers make good rods. Every brand offers rods that cast well for me and others that don't. Some companies are good to work with if you are a dealer and I tend to like their tackle better. Some manufacturers give more back to the fly fishing community, support good causes and our resources. I tend to like their products better.

My advice is to cast them all and choose the rod that works best for you and fits your budget. I guess I'm not a person who cares what people think about the brand I am using. One exception would be my Chevy Truck which just turned over 112,000 miles. It's not for sale either.


11-23-2009, 10:51 PM
Byron thanks for your input. I really like that you came in and gave this information. You are definately the man who could get any rod of your choice and knowing what you carry really makes me feel good about the products that are out there. Thanks to you and LRO was where I was first introduced to my winstons and to know that you also put a great trust in these other companies really means alot. Thanks once again for your imputs.

11-24-2009, 08:55 AM

Very well said, i won't even begin to complain about the filler coming out of the cork on a few of my $700 rods(different brands):eek:
I still think it's a shame that the wine industry gets 1st pick on top grade cork & fly rods are 2nd or 3rd for it:mad:


11-24-2009, 09:16 AM
Great point grumpy. I thought on Byrons post last night and something he said made alot of since. The companies that put back into our sport and supports it really opens another catagorery to look at. I never really look at it from that side but putting back into something is as important as building the best. Take LRO for example, how many of us simply shop and enjoy LRO for what they contribute back. Like this forum, little river journal, free shipping and trout fest. Because of their dedication to our sport and our needs we support them. Well the same can be said for these different tackle companies. Byron thanks for helping me smell the coffee and see that. And thanks for all you, paula and daniel do for this great sport and your customers. :smile:

11-24-2009, 10:17 PM
plateauangler, what length and weight rod are you referring to in your post. I am just interested.

11-24-2009, 10:18 PM

If you're right about the wine industry, I'm definitely going to screw top and box in protest! :eek:

David Knapp
11-25-2009, 10:27 AM
plateauangler, what length and weight rod are you referring to in your post. I am just interested.

I've actually got three of them. The one I use the most and prefer for most of my fishing is a 9' 5 weight. The rod is an older model from before they upgraded the series years ago. I've also got a 3 and a 4 weight and love both of them as well. The four weight isn't as good as the 3 or 5 though in my opinion...

James Buice
11-26-2009, 09:26 AM
Heck Byron, 112,000 miles. It's just getting broken in.

11-26-2009, 09:39 AM
I bought a 8 wt 9 ft fli this last spring, and a 7 wt 9' fli for my 15 year old daughter. We have been catching redfish all year with them and they have been great rods. I have caught over 40 redfish since July on mine, and it has performed superbly. I would like to know if anyone has any feedback on a 5wt fli?


11-26-2009, 08:21 PM
Well I am also wanting to know if anyone has any experience with the st. croix avid rods. I like slower rods and though about looking at on of these in a 4wt for bluegill fishing small streams here in bama land.

11-26-2009, 09:01 PM
I have 3 Avids, and I'm pretty happy with them. They're smooth, moderate action, very comfortable to cast. They can handle a dropper very well, though I'm completely capable of tangling the leader, regardless of the rod.

I've been curious about the Imperial. Faster, right?


11-27-2009, 09:33 AM
Stonefly, the new Imperials are supposed to be a faster action. The older models Imperials were a moderate action. I like the Avid series as well for fishing smaller to medium sized streams and even tailwaters when the wind isn't brutal. They roll cast well and are good flippin rods as well.


11-29-2009, 08:50 PM
Can someone explain to me why a TFO rod cost a $149 to $199 while a sage cost from $200 up. I know the difference in the fact that TFO is korean made but what is the differences when it comes to the build and/or quality of the rods. I have a hard time making myself buy a TFO (korean) rod versus other rods but for the money and from what I see I cannot understand the differences. I do not believe it is the cosmetics for they seem similar. And what is the difference that makes one rod $700 v/s $199. I am not trying to be sarcastic or mean I trully do not understand. I have never built rods and that is why I am trying to learn if it is something in the build or is it just a prestige thing to own the higher end rods. All my rods are of higher end value but my fishing partner fishes TFO'S and darn I can't really see a difference except price and cosmetics. Any help in understanding this I would greatly appreciate. Thanks.

I do all kinds of fishing. I own rods that run from TFO professional series to offshore stuff close to $1000 brand new. There are companies that will charge you more for a name, some for components, and some for both. Time and experience will answer these questions for you. Some rod manufacturers bounce back and forth between the different variables and you have to look at each model year to determine what they are selling that year.

When I buy a rod I look at what I need from that rod to meet my goals and expectations. For big game or exacting fishing conditions I want premium state of the art components. For the rest of it, I want to avoid issues with break down. With the exception of spey casting I have not found a fly fishing situation in freshwater where components mean very much. Unless you start looking at rods under $100 that are made with components that breakdown after a few uses this is not an issue. I find it amusing when people make arguments about components for a fly rod to catch a 3lb (on a really good day) or less sized fish.

But that is how I approach fishing. I know guys who don't want to get caught dead on a stream without the most expensive rod they can own, no BS, got to cost at least $1500. But they couldn't catch a fish if it committed suicide. They claim that they really enjoy the fishing though. If they do enjoy the fishing then they have met their personal goals. We each fish for different reasons.

11-30-2009, 07:36 PM
But they couldn't catch a fish if it committed suicide. They claim that they really enjoy the fishing though.

I didn't realize anyone was watchingme the last time I went fishing.:smile:

12-01-2009, 09:28 AM
Because they can charge that and get it, so why not?

It goes into quality of graphite, quality of design, research, marketing budgets, components, etc etc etc.

I have cast, fished, broken, and picked up most every rod out there over the years, and within each mfg, there are good rods and bad rods, the rods which fit my style the best are high end Sage rods. The others are just not responsive enough for my style, too slow, too heavy, no back bone, etc etc.

TFO does nothing for me and is miserable to fish, but may work great for the guy just downstream of me and be the perfect fit.

Whatever feels best to you and you can afford is what you should fish.