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October 29, 2008

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Are Rod Warranties Worth the Price?

You realize, of course, that when you buy a fly rod with a lifetime warranty, you're already paying for the replacement (at least in part), whether you break it or not. Here's roughly how the math works: Say the purchase price of the rod is $500. Well, the real price of production, including the wholesale-to-retail markup, etc., might really be about $325. So the extra $175 is the insurance policy you buy, whether you want it or not. Say on average, one in every three rods sold gets broken and replaced. That leaves $350 in the kitty (from the other two unbroken rods) to cover the $325 replacement. The rod company wins, just like the insurance company always wins. Now, that's very rough math, but you get the point. And I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing... goodness knows I've busted many rods (in my experience some companies are clearly better than others in living up to their replacement promises, but that's another post for another day)... so I'd probably buy the insurance policy if I were given a choice.

But would you? What if you could accept or decline the rod warranty? Like you do when you buy a television or a computer... you can buy the extended warranty, or not. Would you rather pay much less on the sticker price, sans warranty? Or would you pony up for peace of mind?



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jerry k

i think the rod company would make more cause in most situations they probaly just exchange the broken section for a new

jerry k



I would go with it just to be safe. its not that i don't trust myself with my rod its the people around me that I don't trust. I had a rod knocked over then steped on twice but thankfully orvis has a great warranty.


the thing about warranties is that rods are inherently fragile and there is always going to be the potential for awkward friction between a rod manufacturer/fly shop and the customer over who's fault it was. manufacturer defects are always a possibility.

another note, the cost of production of a $500 retail rod is not $325. remember that most rods carry 40% margin, but just for the sake of easy math, lets say wholesale (without volume discount or early purchase incentive) is 50%. that leaves $250 for the manufacturer. they have a profit built in with this number since they sell to retailers, not direct to customers, so the cost of production is even much less per unit.

that's not to say that rod companies are or are not justified for their pricing, i think the free market and rods being built overseas is causing a correction, or at least introduction of cheaper rods at lower price points by the major rod manufacturers to compete in the new market of entry or mid-level.

the thing that i've noticed is that the rod companies are getting hammered by people claiming warranties on used rods that they buy on ebay, so the companies are now enforcing the registration of rods to prove who the original purchaser was, and also tacking on a $50+ 'handling' fee, which is bogus. just call it what it is, a renege on the so-called no questions asked policy that they touted for so many years to encourage more sales.

Evan V



Is it that expensive to have a rod repaired? Would it be cheaper to just send a rod in and pay to have it repaired? I would be happy just knowing I could get a rod repaired when need be. When a rod becomes out dated, do they repair the bad sections, replace them from stock or have to build a new replacement section from old plans? Isnt it hard to match each individual rods flex? Just curious.....


I am at that stage of frugality where most of the rods I have are not too expensive, all < $225. The more expensive rods are TFOs and they have the lifetime warranty. Personally I am fine with it. TFO has a great reputation for customer service, so a no hassle return is worth the insurance, IMHO.


Don't need warranty. I get Orvis at employee cost and my Clearwater rods have worked wonders. I've even used Bass Pro Shop rods that perform just as well. Why pay more?


I think the consumer should have the right to choose... and I think that's the only way US-made rods can compete with imports in the future.

I'll chime in with a little tidbit..mind you I know a little about rods and have been to most of the manufacturers in the West. I won't start blasting the US companies because as a whole the cost is inherently greater from a material/ labor standpoint. Yet on the circumstance of foreign rods and the warranty/ mark up is plain ridiculous. When the cost of a finished rod including excise tax is somewhere between 11 to 20 dollars, to get landed here in the US...no wonder every chucklehead has a rod they personally designed. I call B#ll [email protected]&T, same factories...same mandrels....

Get an empty garage...stock them full of rods..hire an old fly fishing legend...replace the rod at no ?? asked..Mark up the rod to $250 to $400 and your making a killing on the margins alone..no overhead but some dude who can't speak english to answer the phone. I think I'm gonna go puke now...Maybe I am jealous because I didn't think of it..or maybe I have a conscious in selling a product that is 80% what it's worth. Take it or leave the warranty on fly rods killed the high end resale market, in my opinion Loomis got it right!


let's not get carried away bashing foreign-made products, it's still american businessmen selling out and setting up shop overseas this same business model applies to almost all mass produced outdoor equipment from patagonia rain jackets to mountain hardware tents to shoes, etc. i'll bet not too many of you guys out there are posting comments on this blog with your expensive u.s.-made computers, fishing with u.s.-tied flies, riding in boats with u.s.-made engines.

the warranty themselves wasn't the problem, the problem is that they had poor tracking of rod registration and a tremendous liability out there in used rods. i remember when orvis was the only company with a guarantee (25 years), then everyone else proceeded to jump of the proverbial no-questions-asked warranty cliff.

but again, it's bad PR to call your client a liar with respect to how a rod got broken when a rod company is pushing the limits of technology using super high-modulus graphite/materials that are prone to easy breakage. you also have to fault the current crop of fly anglers who barely know how to fish much less treat their equipment properly.

but it definitely is cheaper to replace a cheap rod than a top-of-the-line Sage.

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