October 11, 2012
Are Fly-Rod Warranties Going Away?
By Kirk Deeter
If my dog eats the grip off my new $700 fly rod, will you buy me a new one?
That's basically how it's playing out now with many of those "lifetime guarantee" rods, whether you realize it or not. You're not exactly buying my replacement rod, but when you purchase warrantied rods, you are paying into an "insurance pool" of sorts. We all know nothing is really "free," especially not in fly fishing.
Let's break this down using basic math for the sake of explanation. Assume that an average of one in three rods gets broken in its lifetime. The retail price we pay for rods is therefore closer to the actual cost of 1.33 rods. You're kicking in an extra third. If you break your rod, that's money well spent. If you don't, you took one for the team.
We've talked about this before, but the reason I'm bringing this up again is that I've heard more rumblings within the past three months than I have in the last decade that some of those warranties may be going away, or at least pricing will be changed to give consumers an option of paying for them or not. After all, you can opt for the extended service plan when you buy a new car, or you can pay extra for a replacement warranty when you buy a new television. But you have the choice.
Wouldn't you rather have the choice to buy the $300 rod for $200, or the $750 rod for $500? I would.
The vast majority of rods get broken by people doing dumb things. I admit that I am more careless with expensive fly rods than I should be because I consider the warranty a license for stupidity. So I break more than I should.
Granted, a rod that just breaks should be replaced, but how can you really tell if a rod breaks because of defects or mistakes? The number of rods that "just broke on a fish" will no doubt climb exponentially. But you're already paying more for replacements. Used to be that if you broke a rod, and if you paid to send it in (maybe $10), it came back fixed, or you got a new one a few weeks or months later. Now you have to pay $50 bucks or more for the "processing."
I say get rid of all of it. Lose the hocus-pocus warranty stuff and sell rods for their real value. We all know better.