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Rethinking Fly Rod Warranties

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September 05, 2013

Rethinking Fly Rod Warranties

By Kirk Deeter

Every few years the issue of fly rod warranties generates some heated debate among manufacturers, fly shop owners, and consumers, then disappears. This year might be different. David Leinweber, owner of Angler's Covey in Colorado Springs, wrote an open letter to the industry demanding that rod warranties be rethought, and in the last few weeks, I've heard more buzz on the topic from more sources than I can remember.

You know the deal. Most high-end rods come with a no-fault warranty. You slam it in the screen door, or your dog eats it, or maybe you even break it while fighting a fish, no problem. Just mail it back, pay a processing fee (they vary by manufacturer) and you get a new rod. Thing is, you're already paying for the replacement when you buy the $750 rod in the first place. I'll use basic math and round numbers: Rod makers know that one in three rods get broken eventually, so they tack a third of the price of a new rod onto the original purchase price.  

Some anglers love that. Some would love to see the cost of the rods reduced. Some shop owners love the warranty. Some think they sell far fewer rods than they would if people weren't getting so many "free" replacements. And that volume of rod replacements is more than you might think. One major rod company admitted that they get as many as 500 returns per week during the busy fishing months of summer.

And some of the repair requests are silly. Look at this rod tube being held by Jim West of The Orvis Company, who heads their repairs department. He's seen it all in over 40 years at Orvis, but this takes the cake. I don't know if it got flattened by a tank; Jim didn't ask. But true to their promise, Orvis replaced it.  

It kind of bothers me that the price of rods is influenced in part by the cost of fixing things like this.

I was talking to another industry insider last week (few folks want to go on the record regarding this taboo), and he thinks we might see at least one manufacturer launch a new series of rods next year that expressly doesn't include a warranty. What would now be an $800 rod might be priced at $500 or $600.

Another idea being kicked around is allowing the consumer to buy a purchase protection plan, kind of like when you buy a television or a refrigerator and you have the option to pay extra up front if you want free repairs in the future. Would you opt for that? Would you at least like the option of not buying that?

Some say we'll see the industry really clamp down on secondhand warranty claims (most rods warranties are only valid for the original owner, but enforcement of that policy has been lax, and a good percentage of returns are rods that changed hands through eBay and so forth).

Maybe rod makers will shorten the term of the warranty from "lifetime" or 25 years to five years.  Most of the rods I've broken have busted within the first year I used them, and if I break a favorite old model, odds are the rod company isn't going to fix the original or send me the same model; I'll get a modern equivalent.

Maybe we'll see rods come with two tips as an option again.  

I don't know for sure what will happen. But I know something is going to happen. And I'm interested in what you think.

Comments (27)

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 32 weeks 9 hours ago

You raise good points on both sides of the debate. I've only pursued a replacement once, when I slammed a truck door on a rod and broke it. Not only did Orvis replace the rod, but the shop where I purchased it gave me a loaner to use while I waited for the new rod. And this is why I remain a very loyal Orvis customer!

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from Proverbs wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

I don't like paying for the carelessness of others. This is true whether we are talking about fishing rods, rifle scopes, or automobile insurance.

If there is a manufacuring flaw in the product, it will show up in the first few years. Keep the warranty limited.

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from hermit crab wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

I like the warranties a lot, and it gives me confidence in going fishing more. I've also benefited from those warranties twice now and both occurred during transit, not fishing.

I fully support the idea of buying a warranty separately to give the consumer the choice. For the rods I buy (<$250), I'd gladly pay an extra 30% or so to get the lifetime or 25-year warranty.

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from smccardell wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

If I purchase an $800 rod today, I am going to expect that there is a warranty on this rod, or I will not purchase it. Why should I take a chance on a company who has no belief that their product is any good? Because THAT is what a warranty is. It is a belief, from the company, that they make a good product and they are backing that claim up by saying "if it breaks we will fix it, no questions asked". Now some might say that is silly because they should only replace it if it fails while in the "field". Well exactly how do you tell that $800 rod wasn't dropped and broken versus broken when a monster fish snapped it like a twig? That's the reason for these warranties. Now, that said, if I buy a $500 to $600 rod next year that was $800 this year, guess what I am still going to expect a warranty. Now if I buy a $99 fly rod from LL Bean, will I still expect a warranty? Maybe, maybe not. Their brand is built on the fact that they make quality stuff. Whose to say that it SHOULD have broken when I dropped it. My thinking goes that if it can't stand to be slammed in a car door (like my fingers have been countless times) or dropped on the ground, then it wasn't made good enough...

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from Koldkut wrote 32 weeks 7 hours ago

Smccardell, they do make an ugly stick fly rod.....

My thoughts, coming from a custom rod builder, are that people need to take care of their rods and take personal responsiblity for breaking them, you don't see this kind of warranty lunacy anywhere else.

When Megabass brought their rods to the US, they had to create a warranty that was very advantageous to the consumer since they don't have this problem(yes, problem) in Japan. They were not used to people believing the manufacture should be responsible for their whoopsies.

I like the idea of purchasing a warranty plan, this would allow consumers to choose, if they want to pay the extra bit, and manufactures to price accordingly.

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from Micropterus24 wrote 32 weeks 5 hours ago

As a pretty average consumer I gotta say I love the warranties. I lost the tip section of my ll bean rod while fishing from my kayak, I had a trip scheduled the following weekend and they sent a brand new rod 2nd day air so I would have it in time for my trip. My first orvis rod I received years ago as a gift and the tip broke while I was traveling, I was offered a replacement or an upgrade to a nicer rod which I took and haven't had any issues since. Most recently I stomped on my buddies brand new sage days after he bought it, I just didn't see it. I treat my rods well, I don't beat the crap out of them, but I also don't want to be paranoid about breaking my rod while on the river. Accidents happen however stupid they are its nice to know you can get a rod replaced without having to buy it all over again which many of us can't afford to do. Warranties on mid priced rods has kept me and many other fishermen on the water which is the most important thing. I haven't bought any of the high end rods, and I can't say I'd jump on a rod that was slightly reduced in price with no warranty attached.

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from LostLure wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I will gladly pay an extra 1/3 of the price to get a 25 yr or lifetime warranty. St. Croix pretty much does that, but does not include the additional price in the purchase price. For example, their Avid line of fly rods run $250-$290, and if you slam it in the tailgate and snap it, you return it them with a $75 check, and they will fix or replace the rod. It's only $20 if its a manufacture defect. I guess they do it this way to keep the original purchase price lower to be more appealing to consumers.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Why not just lower the retail price and raise the processing fee. Don't make the guy choose at the counter if he wants to shell out the extra $200 when that could have went to something else in the shop like waders or line or a new pack or something. Instead leave that option open to anyone when the time comes.
EX: I buy a $600 rod from Orvis, 2 years later I snap the tip. I then want it replaced. I go to the shop or go online, find the model, pay the processing fee for that rod and get a new rod. If I was going to be willing to spend it then chances are I'll still be willing to spend it now.

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from smccardell wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Also something not taken in to account in most forum discussions is the "cost of money". On average how long does it take for someone to break their rod and send it in for repair or a new one? What does the company DO with the extra money it gets on each rod? Because if it take someone several years to damage their rod and use the warranty, the company has basically gotten all the interest on that money for free. Now I am not really talking the interest rates on your bank account, but rather a return on whatever they did with that money. They could use that extra cash to put back in to a new project where they get 20% ROI. Also as the rod ages the cost of producing that rod have gone down,s o it's even cheaper for the manufacturer to replace said rod. And the benefit to the customer is that they have the piece of mind if it should break.

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from haresear wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

This is the same comment I posted to the article in Angling Trade the other day.

I can appreciate your desire to help increase the frequency of people popping $ 700.00 or more for a high-dollar rod. However, there are two sides of the issue and both need to be examined before running full tilt to change something that is working perfectly well.

First; we all know there is plenty of profit for the manufacture, and the retailer built into the price of a high-dollar rod. The lifetime warranties were created to encourage anglers to spend much more on a rod than is actually needed. Let’s face it, 98% of $700.00 rods owners have a $55.00 cast. What they are buying is a boost to their ego and the tiniest bit of short-lived fantasy that there is some built in Zen that will magically create a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Now that the market has slowed, you want another gimmick to increase sales. Just how much do you think can be extracted from these folks, before they sour on the sport due to a greedy industry? You can sheer a sheep over and over again, but you can only slaughter it once!

Secondly; People with disposable incomes, spend it without too much worry about costs. So they have a wide selection of costly rods already. Average Joe’s are going to be a bit more selective in their purchases, and will save up for a high-end rod of perhaps receive one as a gift. They want to be assured it will last them a lifetime, and to that end, the lifetime warranty is a great idea. They know a simple accident won’t break their heart down the road. They also are not ignorant to market conditioning, knowing full well, that if the warranty is removed, the cost will soon again rise to the $700.00 level and not have the lifetime warranty. Let’s face it, that is really what you’re hoping for in the end, isn’t it?

Many folks already have a pre-conceived notion that fly-fisherman are a bunch of pompous jerks that think they are smart because they rattle off a couple Latin names for bugs. Recruiting them into the sport should be done with honesty and integrity. Not short minded thinking, with instant profits being the main objective.

I would suggest developing a more creative approach to increase high-end sales. Perhaps creating casting clubs (not just fishing) or casting courses (ranges). Something to actually build the need for better equipment, thus increasing sales without buyer’s remorse.

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from buckhunter wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I read all about this last week at Anglingtrade.com. Both sides have good points and not being in THE business I feel my opinion will lack credibility. From a strictly business point of view, warranties will continue as long as there is demand. If the industry moves away from lifetime warranty rods, someone else will fill the niche. At this point people relate the warranty with quality, which is not true, but makes a good sales pitch.

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from buckhunter wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I read all about this last week at Anglingtrade.com. Both sides have good points and not being in THE business I feel my opinion will lack credibility. From a strictly business point of view, warranties will continue as long as there is demand. If the industry moves away from lifetime warranty rods, someone else will fill the niche. At this point people relate the warranty with quality, which is not true, but makes a good sales pitch.

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from Dangle wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Rod mfgers created the problem now you have a culture of who cares if its my fault. That is going to be hard to change. I do know that foreign made rods will win over the big portion of the market. And that is why virtually all domestic rod makers include foreign made rods in their line now.

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from philip43 wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I damaged a lower priced Orvis rod and my attempt at a repair was a failure. I mailed it too Orvis and they repaired quickly for a very reasonable price.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I have an extensive collection of high end fly rods (I fish everything from trout to tarpon).I treat them with respect and as a result, have only had to send 1 out of 200 back. Over the last 50 years.
The Rod companies make out with guys like me. Let's face it there isn't $800.00 worth of labor and materials in any rod that isn't bamboo. I'd be shocked if any of them cost more than $200.00 to make (even with advertising).
Frankly, I find it hard to believe it costs more to make a fly rod (non-bamboo) then it does to make an $800.00 rifle, shotgun or handgun and you don't hear the gun manufacturers whining. Think about it and put it in perspective... "You can buy 3 870 shotguns for the price of one boron rod!"
That said....people who disrespect their equipment because it's under warranty are the real problem. I don't think very much of a "Sportsman" who scams any company by abusing his equipment,because he thinks he can.
Maybe it's generational...it never seemed to be a problem in the past, unless the rod companies are getting greedy.....AGAIN.

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from aferraro wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

I have a Sage rod that’s almost 20 years old and I take care of it. The fly companies are making money of the warranty- that's why they do it. An $800 fly rod costs them less than $300 to produce and less than that to repair. They force everyone to “buy” a life time warranty because they make their margins on that extra 1/3 and get to keep that money for years, or decades. Would anyone like to give me $250 to hold – I’ll send it back to you in a decade? How can a piece of plastic and some thread cost more than an automatic duck gun or quality deer riffle?

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from hermit crab wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

haverodwilltravel:
I've broken and utilized a warranty on two separate fly rods, and I don't have the slightest regret about it. Both were broken by the airlines on the way to/from fishing trips, and the case looked similar to the Orvis one shown at the top of the page. I don't see it as scamming because as was stated previously, I've paid for the replacement rods already. In addition, if it wasn't profitable for fly rod manufacturers to do it, they'd stop doing it in a heartbeat. Having the warranty gives me a lot more confidence to fully utilize my equipment.

Also, I think the comparison of a utility-grade 870 to an $800 fly rod is a bit inaccurate. An ugly stick is a better comparison to the $250 870...

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from Dangle wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

Consumer reports will tell you that any insurance policy that you are asked to purchase from items like tv sets, or extended warranty on cars for example, are not good deals...way to high a priced. And you can't shop around for the policy. You have only one policy to accept. Bad deal, and the rod policy built in is a bad deal. Sell the policy separately, and have competitive policies to choose from.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

Hermit circumstances beyond your control,like the airlines are what the warranties are.

At no time is an 870 attractive (A Purdey is attractive and 870 is the ugly step child. lol)....However, since you can buy 3 for the price of a boron rod. I'm saying you get more bang for your buck (no pun). And that is from an industry that has tons more in overhead with everything from liability to taxes. Nope, methinks the rod companies protest to much.

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from labguy2 wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

As a full time Fly Fishing Guide, I use only high end rods for guiding and love the warranties, as clients break an average of 5 or 6 rods a year on my trips. That being said, I grew up fishing bamboo, and in 50+ years of fishing I have never broken a rod myself, ever (knock on wood). And yes, based on that track record, I would rather pay less up front for my personal rods, and just take care of them. But I would be willing to pay for a warranty on my guide rods.

Nuff said.....

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from themadflyfisher wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

Something else. If manufacturers were to drop the retail prices on rods by offering a separate warranty it would put more higher end rods in the hands of fisherman. Myself for example. I am a mid-priced buyer. I just can't afford the high end rods. But if the retail prices were to drop I would be able to afford the "Helios" and such. And having more fisherman out there fishing a companies better quality products is good both for the company and the consumer.

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from Bladnoch wrote 31 weeks 1 day ago

The only rod warranty that makes sense at all in Canada is Temple Fork Outfitters. Their rods are NOT $750 (far from it but they are excellent rods) and they still give a very good warranty.

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from Bruce Thomson wrote 30 weeks 2 days ago

This issue at hand is one not unique to the high end fly rod market, and it's know more broadly as Moral Hazard. Put simply, if someone does not bear the consequences or cost of his or her action (or if he or she is insulated/protected from it) then the person is more likely to act recklessly. Its a major concern in the insurance market - insure someone against the consequences of poor health or reckless activity, and you are implicitly encouraging just those actions which may be injurious to the individual and the system.

Same goes with the no-questions lifetime warranty on high end rods (you are, after all, essentially buying fly rod insurance). If someone knows they can replace the tip if it snaps, he or she may well be less careful when closing his car door or scampering through the forest en route to the stream... thus increasing the probability that the warranty will be used.

Another commenter brought this up, but it's an important point to raise in this context. Namely, by upping the "processing" fee you are essentially addressing the moral hazard issue without undermining the entire warranty system. By making the processing fee higher, there is still a cost associated with recklessness (thus incentivizing greater care), but the cost isn't nearly as high as replacing the entire rod. A replacement fee also works for the OEM - if it's high enough, the fee enables them to replace the part "at cost" without financially suffering (since they baked into the original price the presumption that this would be a "lifetime" purchase).

Again, as is evident from comments, customers (and thus the industry) would be unhappy to see the end of lifetime warranties on premium rods. Raising the replacement fee addresses the moral hazard concern while ensuring the financial viability of the warranties to the manufacturers.

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from tarponchaser wrote 30 weeks 1 day ago

I have been flyfishing, mostly in saltwater, for over 35 years, and have accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of 50+ "High End" fly rods. I have only had to use a warranty on one broken rod - a tip that was broken on a large Snook that I mishandled in the Mangroves.
Several years ago I recall a story I heard about a well known tackle shop in the southeast, where, on Friday afternoons after a couple of beers, employees would take a few rods into the back parking lot, hook them up to car bumpers, and as the cars drove off, see how much pressure it would take to break the rods. No sweat, since they would easily be replaced by the manufacturer, but what kind of message does this kind of behavior send?
If a policy of "seperate price to cover warranty" were in place, it would certainly curtail this kind of behavior.

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from robf wrote 30 weeks 22 hours ago

The problem is, as I see it, that if warranties are eliminated, there is NO WAY that the price of rods will be dropped by 1/3. Its just not going to happen. We, as consumers, will no longer have this excellent protection, and manufacturers will make excuses as to why they can't lower the prices as they promised, etc. I'm not saying they are bad people, but they are businessmen, not benevolent patrons of everyday fishermen.
So, while the system may be broken, it's the little guy who will be the loser in the end. Mark my words!

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from Brad Hanson wrote 28 weeks 5 days ago

When I go to purchase a new rod fly or spinning I look for warranties. I love having piece of mind, knowing that as I am showing a new angler how to cast, I won't be out several hundred dollars if an accident happens. I use my rods every day and on windy days I would be afraid to cast a clouser or weighted fly that may nick my rod. Yes, I have closed doors on rods and have had friends do so too. I have the warranties on my rods now and will find somebody to supply rods with them on any new rods in the future.

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from jbarretts wrote 7 weeks 1 day ago

I wouldn't mind seeing the lifetime warranty go away. However, Somehow I don't feel the higher end manufacturers would drop prices all that much if it did happen. I would never, and I mean never be interested in buying a warranty from my fly shop or retailer because they are literally dropping like flies out there. There's nothing to gaurentee to the consumer the shop will be in business when I may need that extended warranty.
I would welcome changes if for instance a new Sage one (or whatever your brand of choice is) would retail for 425, and I had the option to purchase the warranty directly from the manufacturer. To say people are not buying new fly rods because of the warranty's in place seems a bit far fetched to me.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I have an extensive collection of high end fly rods (I fish everything from trout to tarpon).I treat them with respect and as a result, have only had to send 1 out of 200 back. Over the last 50 years.
The Rod companies make out with guys like me. Let's face it there isn't $800.00 worth of labor and materials in any rod that isn't bamboo. I'd be shocked if any of them cost more than $200.00 to make (even with advertising).
Frankly, I find it hard to believe it costs more to make a fly rod (non-bamboo) then it does to make an $800.00 rifle, shotgun or handgun and you don't hear the gun manufacturers whining. Think about it and put it in perspective... "You can buy 3 870 shotguns for the price of one boron rod!"
That said....people who disrespect their equipment because it's under warranty are the real problem. I don't think very much of a "Sportsman" who scams any company by abusing his equipment,because he thinks he can.
Maybe it's generational...it never seemed to be a problem in the past, unless the rod companies are getting greedy.....AGAIN.

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from LostLure wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I will gladly pay an extra 1/3 of the price to get a 25 yr or lifetime warranty. St. Croix pretty much does that, but does not include the additional price in the purchase price. For example, their Avid line of fly rods run $250-$290, and if you slam it in the tailgate and snap it, you return it them with a $75 check, and they will fix or replace the rod. It's only $20 if its a manufacture defect. I guess they do it this way to keep the original purchase price lower to be more appealing to consumers.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Why not just lower the retail price and raise the processing fee. Don't make the guy choose at the counter if he wants to shell out the extra $200 when that could have went to something else in the shop like waders or line or a new pack or something. Instead leave that option open to anyone when the time comes.
EX: I buy a $600 rod from Orvis, 2 years later I snap the tip. I then want it replaced. I go to the shop or go online, find the model, pay the processing fee for that rod and get a new rod. If I was going to be willing to spend it then chances are I'll still be willing to spend it now.

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from smccardell wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Also something not taken in to account in most forum discussions is the "cost of money". On average how long does it take for someone to break their rod and send it in for repair or a new one? What does the company DO with the extra money it gets on each rod? Because if it take someone several years to damage their rod and use the warranty, the company has basically gotten all the interest on that money for free. Now I am not really talking the interest rates on your bank account, but rather a return on whatever they did with that money. They could use that extra cash to put back in to a new project where they get 20% ROI. Also as the rod ages the cost of producing that rod have gone down,s o it's even cheaper for the manufacturer to replace said rod. And the benefit to the customer is that they have the piece of mind if it should break.

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from Dangle wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

Rod mfgers created the problem now you have a culture of who cares if its my fault. That is going to be hard to change. I do know that foreign made rods will win over the big portion of the market. And that is why virtually all domestic rod makers include foreign made rods in their line now.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

Consumer reports will tell you that any insurance policy that you are asked to purchase from items like tv sets, or extended warranty on cars for example, are not good deals...way to high a priced. And you can't shop around for the policy. You have only one policy to accept. Bad deal, and the rod policy built in is a bad deal. Sell the policy separately, and have competitive policies to choose from.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 32 weeks 9 hours ago

You raise good points on both sides of the debate. I've only pursued a replacement once, when I slammed a truck door on a rod and broke it. Not only did Orvis replace the rod, but the shop where I purchased it gave me a loaner to use while I waited for the new rod. And this is why I remain a very loyal Orvis customer!

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from Proverbs wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

I don't like paying for the carelessness of others. This is true whether we are talking about fishing rods, rifle scopes, or automobile insurance.

If there is a manufacuring flaw in the product, it will show up in the first few years. Keep the warranty limited.

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from hermit crab wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

I like the warranties a lot, and it gives me confidence in going fishing more. I've also benefited from those warranties twice now and both occurred during transit, not fishing.

I fully support the idea of buying a warranty separately to give the consumer the choice. For the rods I buy (<$250), I'd gladly pay an extra 30% or so to get the lifetime or 25-year warranty.

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from smccardell wrote 32 weeks 8 hours ago

If I purchase an $800 rod today, I am going to expect that there is a warranty on this rod, or I will not purchase it. Why should I take a chance on a company who has no belief that their product is any good? Because THAT is what a warranty is. It is a belief, from the company, that they make a good product and they are backing that claim up by saying "if it breaks we will fix it, no questions asked". Now some might say that is silly because they should only replace it if it fails while in the "field". Well exactly how do you tell that $800 rod wasn't dropped and broken versus broken when a monster fish snapped it like a twig? That's the reason for these warranties. Now, that said, if I buy a $500 to $600 rod next year that was $800 this year, guess what I am still going to expect a warranty. Now if I buy a $99 fly rod from LL Bean, will I still expect a warranty? Maybe, maybe not. Their brand is built on the fact that they make quality stuff. Whose to say that it SHOULD have broken when I dropped it. My thinking goes that if it can't stand to be slammed in a car door (like my fingers have been countless times) or dropped on the ground, then it wasn't made good enough...

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from Koldkut wrote 32 weeks 7 hours ago

Smccardell, they do make an ugly stick fly rod.....

My thoughts, coming from a custom rod builder, are that people need to take care of their rods and take personal responsiblity for breaking them, you don't see this kind of warranty lunacy anywhere else.

When Megabass brought their rods to the US, they had to create a warranty that was very advantageous to the consumer since they don't have this problem(yes, problem) in Japan. They were not used to people believing the manufacture should be responsible for their whoopsies.

I like the idea of purchasing a warranty plan, this would allow consumers to choose, if they want to pay the extra bit, and manufactures to price accordingly.

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from Micropterus24 wrote 32 weeks 5 hours ago

As a pretty average consumer I gotta say I love the warranties. I lost the tip section of my ll bean rod while fishing from my kayak, I had a trip scheduled the following weekend and they sent a brand new rod 2nd day air so I would have it in time for my trip. My first orvis rod I received years ago as a gift and the tip broke while I was traveling, I was offered a replacement or an upgrade to a nicer rod which I took and haven't had any issues since. Most recently I stomped on my buddies brand new sage days after he bought it, I just didn't see it. I treat my rods well, I don't beat the crap out of them, but I also don't want to be paranoid about breaking my rod while on the river. Accidents happen however stupid they are its nice to know you can get a rod replaced without having to buy it all over again which many of us can't afford to do. Warranties on mid priced rods has kept me and many other fishermen on the water which is the most important thing. I haven't bought any of the high end rods, and I can't say I'd jump on a rod that was slightly reduced in price with no warranty attached.

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from buckhunter wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I read all about this last week at Anglingtrade.com. Both sides have good points and not being in THE business I feel my opinion will lack credibility. From a strictly business point of view, warranties will continue as long as there is demand. If the industry moves away from lifetime warranty rods, someone else will fill the niche. At this point people relate the warranty with quality, which is not true, but makes a good sales pitch.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from philip43 wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I damaged a lower priced Orvis rod and my attempt at a repair was a failure. I mailed it too Orvis and they repaired quickly for a very reasonable price.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

I have a Sage rod that’s almost 20 years old and I take care of it. The fly companies are making money of the warranty- that's why they do it. An $800 fly rod costs them less than $300 to produce and less than that to repair. They force everyone to “buy” a life time warranty because they make their margins on that extra 1/3 and get to keep that money for years, or decades. Would anyone like to give me $250 to hold – I’ll send it back to you in a decade? How can a piece of plastic and some thread cost more than an automatic duck gun or quality deer riffle?

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from hermit crab wrote 31 weeks 3 days ago

haverodwilltravel:
I've broken and utilized a warranty on two separate fly rods, and I don't have the slightest regret about it. Both were broken by the airlines on the way to/from fishing trips, and the case looked similar to the Orvis one shown at the top of the page. I don't see it as scamming because as was stated previously, I've paid for the replacement rods already. In addition, if it wasn't profitable for fly rod manufacturers to do it, they'd stop doing it in a heartbeat. Having the warranty gives me a lot more confidence to fully utilize my equipment.

Also, I think the comparison of a utility-grade 870 to an $800 fly rod is a bit inaccurate. An ugly stick is a better comparison to the $250 870...

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

Hermit circumstances beyond your control,like the airlines are what the warranties are.

At no time is an 870 attractive (A Purdey is attractive and 870 is the ugly step child. lol)....However, since you can buy 3 for the price of a boron rod. I'm saying you get more bang for your buck (no pun). And that is from an industry that has tons more in overhead with everything from liability to taxes. Nope, methinks the rod companies protest to much.

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from Bruce Thomson wrote 30 weeks 2 days ago

This issue at hand is one not unique to the high end fly rod market, and it's know more broadly as Moral Hazard. Put simply, if someone does not bear the consequences or cost of his or her action (or if he or she is insulated/protected from it) then the person is more likely to act recklessly. Its a major concern in the insurance market - insure someone against the consequences of poor health or reckless activity, and you are implicitly encouraging just those actions which may be injurious to the individual and the system.

Same goes with the no-questions lifetime warranty on high end rods (you are, after all, essentially buying fly rod insurance). If someone knows they can replace the tip if it snaps, he or she may well be less careful when closing his car door or scampering through the forest en route to the stream... thus increasing the probability that the warranty will be used.

Another commenter brought this up, but it's an important point to raise in this context. Namely, by upping the "processing" fee you are essentially addressing the moral hazard issue without undermining the entire warranty system. By making the processing fee higher, there is still a cost associated with recklessness (thus incentivizing greater care), but the cost isn't nearly as high as replacing the entire rod. A replacement fee also works for the OEM - if it's high enough, the fee enables them to replace the part "at cost" without financially suffering (since they baked into the original price the presumption that this would be a "lifetime" purchase).

Again, as is evident from comments, customers (and thus the industry) would be unhappy to see the end of lifetime warranties on premium rods. Raising the replacement fee addresses the moral hazard concern while ensuring the financial viability of the warranties to the manufacturers.

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from haresear wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

This is the same comment I posted to the article in Angling Trade the other day.

I can appreciate your desire to help increase the frequency of people popping $ 700.00 or more for a high-dollar rod. However, there are two sides of the issue and both need to be examined before running full tilt to change something that is working perfectly well.

First; we all know there is plenty of profit for the manufacture, and the retailer built into the price of a high-dollar rod. The lifetime warranties were created to encourage anglers to spend much more on a rod than is actually needed. Let’s face it, 98% of $700.00 rods owners have a $55.00 cast. What they are buying is a boost to their ego and the tiniest bit of short-lived fantasy that there is some built in Zen that will magically create a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Now that the market has slowed, you want another gimmick to increase sales. Just how much do you think can be extracted from these folks, before they sour on the sport due to a greedy industry? You can sheer a sheep over and over again, but you can only slaughter it once!

Secondly; People with disposable incomes, spend it without too much worry about costs. So they have a wide selection of costly rods already. Average Joe’s are going to be a bit more selective in their purchases, and will save up for a high-end rod of perhaps receive one as a gift. They want to be assured it will last them a lifetime, and to that end, the lifetime warranty is a great idea. They know a simple accident won’t break their heart down the road. They also are not ignorant to market conditioning, knowing full well, that if the warranty is removed, the cost will soon again rise to the $700.00 level and not have the lifetime warranty. Let’s face it, that is really what you’re hoping for in the end, isn’t it?

Many folks already have a pre-conceived notion that fly-fisherman are a bunch of pompous jerks that think they are smart because they rattle off a couple Latin names for bugs. Recruiting them into the sport should be done with honesty and integrity. Not short minded thinking, with instant profits being the main objective.

I would suggest developing a more creative approach to increase high-end sales. Perhaps creating casting clubs (not just fishing) or casting courses (ranges). Something to actually build the need for better equipment, thus increasing sales without buyer’s remorse.

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from buckhunter wrote 31 weeks 6 days ago

I read all about this last week at Anglingtrade.com. Both sides have good points and not being in THE business I feel my opinion will lack credibility. From a strictly business point of view, warranties will continue as long as there is demand. If the industry moves away from lifetime warranty rods, someone else will fill the niche. At this point people relate the warranty with quality, which is not true, but makes a good sales pitch.

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from labguy2 wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

As a full time Fly Fishing Guide, I use only high end rods for guiding and love the warranties, as clients break an average of 5 or 6 rods a year on my trips. That being said, I grew up fishing bamboo, and in 50+ years of fishing I have never broken a rod myself, ever (knock on wood). And yes, based on that track record, I would rather pay less up front for my personal rods, and just take care of them. But I would be willing to pay for a warranty on my guide rods.

Nuff said.....

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from themadflyfisher wrote 31 weeks 2 days ago

Something else. If manufacturers were to drop the retail prices on rods by offering a separate warranty it would put more higher end rods in the hands of fisherman. Myself for example. I am a mid-priced buyer. I just can't afford the high end rods. But if the retail prices were to drop I would be able to afford the "Helios" and such. And having more fisherman out there fishing a companies better quality products is good both for the company and the consumer.

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from Bladnoch wrote 31 weeks 1 day ago

The only rod warranty that makes sense at all in Canada is Temple Fork Outfitters. Their rods are NOT $750 (far from it but they are excellent rods) and they still give a very good warranty.

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from tarponchaser wrote 30 weeks 1 day ago

I have been flyfishing, mostly in saltwater, for over 35 years, and have accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of 50+ "High End" fly rods. I have only had to use a warranty on one broken rod - a tip that was broken on a large Snook that I mishandled in the Mangroves.
Several years ago I recall a story I heard about a well known tackle shop in the southeast, where, on Friday afternoons after a couple of beers, employees would take a few rods into the back parking lot, hook them up to car bumpers, and as the cars drove off, see how much pressure it would take to break the rods. No sweat, since they would easily be replaced by the manufacturer, but what kind of message does this kind of behavior send?
If a policy of "seperate price to cover warranty" were in place, it would certainly curtail this kind of behavior.

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from robf wrote 30 weeks 22 hours ago

The problem is, as I see it, that if warranties are eliminated, there is NO WAY that the price of rods will be dropped by 1/3. Its just not going to happen. We, as consumers, will no longer have this excellent protection, and manufacturers will make excuses as to why they can't lower the prices as they promised, etc. I'm not saying they are bad people, but they are businessmen, not benevolent patrons of everyday fishermen.
So, while the system may be broken, it's the little guy who will be the loser in the end. Mark my words!

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from Brad Hanson wrote 28 weeks 5 days ago

When I go to purchase a new rod fly or spinning I look for warranties. I love having piece of mind, knowing that as I am showing a new angler how to cast, I won't be out several hundred dollars if an accident happens. I use my rods every day and on windy days I would be afraid to cast a clouser or weighted fly that may nick my rod. Yes, I have closed doors on rods and have had friends do so too. I have the warranties on my rods now and will find somebody to supply rods with them on any new rods in the future.

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from jbarretts wrote 7 weeks 1 day ago

I wouldn't mind seeing the lifetime warranty go away. However, Somehow I don't feel the higher end manufacturers would drop prices all that much if it did happen. I would never, and I mean never be interested in buying a warranty from my fly shop or retailer because they are literally dropping like flies out there. There's nothing to gaurentee to the consumer the shop will be in business when I may need that extended warranty.
I would welcome changes if for instance a new Sage one (or whatever your brand of choice is) would retail for 425, and I had the option to purchase the warranty directly from the manufacturer. To say people are not buying new fly rods because of the warranty's in place seems a bit far fetched to me.

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