"I own it." That statement has been the catalyst for countless serious debates about the finer points of the perfect trout rod. Fly fishermen are passionate folks and those participating in the continuous flow of discussions promote the rod that fits them best.
A Little History
First off, newcomers to fly fishing must realize that there are many high quality rods on the market today. Rod companies and their technological advances in the last decade have placed superb rods in the hands of the average fly fisherman. I like to compare the advances in fly rods to the advances in photography. Digital photography left film photography in the dust. The hi-tech fly rods of today, made with the new graphite technologies, do the same to fly rods made with older materials. That statement, too, will charge the argumentative batteries of fly fishers far and wide. The point being: every rod type ever made has its die-hard followers. Such a large variety are made because of the demands for a large variety of rods. Personal preferences reign.
Guide Your Choices
We are earlobe deep in the Information Age. Information is easy to come by via the Internet. Grade schoolers can find vast amounts of information about any subject imaginable, including fly rods. However, the key to making wise choices comes from one's abilities to decipher the vast amounts of information found about a given subject.
Is every bit of information on the Internet trustworthy? Certainly not. How would you go about gleaning the wheat from the chaff concerning fly rods? First, understand that competition among companies that build fly rods is fierce. Every company is going to claim that they build the best rods. The fact is, all but one is wrong. Only one company can build the best fly rods. However, the one company that builds the best rod may only have that one rod model that is the best. Other models of the same brand name may fall short and be outdistanced by another brand name.
The most truthful advice about fly rods comes from the end users and writers who are in no way associated with the company who's product they are reviewing.
Your Final Choice
Buying a fly rod takes time. Studying the choices in the catalogs, driving to stores to get a particular rod in hand to experience how it feels and then weighing all of the pros and cons of each consumes many hours. It is time well spent.
On the other hand, personal choices need to be influenced by hard facts. I searched the "World Record Game Fishes" book published by the international Game Fish Association. Sage fly rods hold 75 world records, more than three times as many as the next closest competitor. It's obvious that Sage is considered the best fly rod maker by world class fishermen. That is good enough for me. No ads necessary.
Missouri Trout Rod Choice
My choice as the best fly rod for Missouri trout is the Sage ZXL 480, 8-foot model coupled with a 4-weight line. It weighs in at 2 11/16 ounces, is made with G5 graphite technology and sports a Western-Portuguese cork grip. The four piece rod fits easily into a 30-inch aluminum tube. The attractive rod allows anglers to fish the tiniest of flies on Missouri's smallest wild trout streams or heave a larger fly on bigger rivers. I do admit, however, that the majority of anglers prefer a 5-weight rod. I enjoy the extra challenge and I don't work for Sage.