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Gear Review: Cabela's New American-Made Fly Rods And Reels

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October 01, 2013

Gear Review: Cabela's New American-Made Fly Rods And Reels

By Joe Cermele

In case you haven't noticed, there is a big push in certain industries—the outdoor industry in particular—to get back to producing wares in the good 'ol U.S. of A. Not long ago I found out that Cabela's was signing on for the movement with plans to introduce an American-made fly rod and reel series. Ray Zink, Cabela's Flyfishing Manager, told me the time seemed right, so the brand partnered with a small rod manufacturer based in the Pacific Northwest. The result is the American Dream rod series, and the WLz reel series, which is also produced state-side and designed by Waterworks-Lamson. I got my hands on a test combo so I could "live the dream," if you will.

Instead of going the trout route for this field test, I opted for carp. Tell you the truth, I've decided that carp are the perfect species for shaking down fly gear. They require long, accurate casts, eat dries and streamers, pull against the drag, and bend a rod to the max. I was fishing a 9-foot 5-weight, and even though some of the "golden bonefish" I hooked would have been better suited to a 7-weight, this rod did a fine job of slowing the fish's momentum during the initial run, and countering the short, pulsing bursts carp are known for during the tussle. This rod is probably a bit slower than you're used to, but in this case that softer action let me put more pressure on these broom-tail doggers than I would have with a faster rod.

To be honest, the first time I used the American Dream, I thought it was a little too slow for my taste. The more I cast it, however, the more I liked it. Even though I know accuracy is a product of good casting form, this rod seemed to naturally add to my accuracy. It is without question a rod made for the serious dry fly angler, mixing the smoothness of a glass stick with the backbone and sensitivity of a graphite rod. According to Zink, my gradual appreciation of the American Dream was natural for a guy that has gotten so used to today's fast fly rods.

"I have always maintained that the perfect fly rod is the one that allows you to put a fly exactly where you need it without too much thought. A rod like that has to talk to you, allowing you to acquire the muscle memory of a proper cast," Zink explained. "It seems that over the last few years, rods have become progressively faster, and I think that we may have lost sight of that relationship between the rod and the angler."

While I can't speak for its performance over the course of multiple seasons, I can say that the reel feels well built. The tolerances were tight, and the drag was exceptionally smooth during some hard carp runs. According to the company, the "polymer-alloy and teflon-metal drag cones don't require lubrication and never wear." That's a tall order, but Waterworks-Lamson has a pretty solid reputation for making reels that can take a beating. The WLz reels are fully machined anodized aluminum, and the drags are completely sealed.

So what does it cost to buy into the American Dream? The rods are available in weights 3 through 8, and will set you back $300. In my opinion, that's middle of the road these days for a quality rod, and these rods could actually command a higher price tag. The WLz reels run from 4- to 8-weight, and sell for $270. Once again, not a terrible price if you're in the market for a reel that's many notches above the beginner's model, but not the titanium-plated, carbon-drag NASA job.

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Micropterus24 wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not really in the market for a new fly rod, but I'm loving the American dream idea, and may need a 3wt for next year

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

I find that a good portion of folks looking for rods, esspecially the customs are very conscious of where their products are made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

All Marketing hoopla. Our co.'s set up the quality control "over seas", and the rods are made to the companies specs producing a good priced rod for the consumer. Redington, and their fancy new golf club fore grip rod was featured in the latest addition of FlyFisherman Mag that I just received. Redington is owned by Sage, and made over seas producing a mid-priced rod price point. The red fore grip rod was named Best of Show this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

While I like the golf club grips, I think there will be durability issues with them. Golf clubs get re-gripped all the time, it's not as easy to do on a fishing rod. Overseas products aren't necessarily bad, look at the market for JDM bass gear over here. I'm still shocked everytime I get asked by someone out of the blue for a business card to have a custom rod built. These folks care about their gear and support what it means to be made in the USA. Contributing to the growth of our economy in a larger way than contributing to a US company who sends money overseas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

Mostly BS from those guy's with money. I worked as a buyer/retailer in a quality clothing/outdoor gear store in Seattle. Anyone that called themselves an outdoor enthusiast had to come in to see us when they were in town. I outfitted, and got to know Billy Martin very well, and a lot of pro sports players. I was the tackle buyer. Reggie Jackson, and a lot of the multi-millionaire ball players would slip down to our "bargain basement" and load up on discount merchandise. "Talks cheap, whiskey costs money" as my fishing buddy use to say. And here is the advertising print for that grip on the "Vapen".....better traction than cork, feels softer, and more comfortable..firm enough it doesn't drain power. Other advantages..doesn't pick up dirt like cork..easier to clean, and it does not chip, dent, or flake. Easy to grip in the tropics where sweat, sunscreen, and bonefish slime can quickly make a cork handle as hard to hold as a bar of soap. AND YOU can buy the cork handle for $50 less!! And that's why it was best of show for 2013, and made "over seas." And they say it is just as applicable for freshwater.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired Chief wrote 29 weeks 9 hours ago

"broom-tail doggers" ... and again with calling a fly rod a "STICK". Well, at least you did not call your fish Pigs, Hogs, Toads, or Slobs. I try to buy Made-in-the-USA whenever I can. Very difficult these days.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 hours ago

WalMart is full of those folks that have a "Buy USA Manufactured" bumper sticker on their vehicle. What the uneducated don't realize is how many more, and by a big margin, workers in the USA depend on the sales of foreign made products than if they were made here at home.....and that's a fact.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 3 hours ago

Sounds like you are one of them ClinchDanglyFu. "workers in the USA depend on the sales of foreign made products". Would you scoff at someone who walked into the shop and asked to se products that are made in the USA.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

Why even get into that worthless discussion? Does foreign made parts, and then assembled in the USA qualify as USA made? What if you show someone a shirt, boots, fly rod made in the USA for X amount of dollars, and then show them the same quality product for less than 1/2 the cost that is foreign made? How long do you think someone could keep their doors open selling all USA made products? Maybe when they fold up you, and your friends could rush in, and buy things at a fraction of the cost on their "going out of business" sale. Most of the time you don't make much sense koldkut. Then you are forced to turn to character assassination.....sad.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

My patriotism and pride in a USA made product of equal quality to the made in china/thailand/pakistan/india products doesn't make sense to you......shocking.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

If you were a true patriot you'd want to preserve far more American worker jobs by supporting the best commerce, and not products made in the USA that produce poor sales.(in large part) Gets down to a basic understanding of good business, and being able to recognize it. You are buying into the unionism theme song of "BUY AMERICAN" that needs protectionism to exist, and produces poor products because they can't, and don't want to compete.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Koldkut wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

My patriotism and pride in a USA made product of equal quality to the made in china/thailand/pakistan/india products doesn't make sense to you......shocking.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micropterus24 wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not really in the market for a new fly rod, but I'm loving the American dream idea, and may need a 3wt for next year

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

I find that a good portion of folks looking for rods, esspecially the customs are very conscious of where their products are made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

All Marketing hoopla. Our co.'s set up the quality control "over seas", and the rods are made to the companies specs producing a good priced rod for the consumer. Redington, and their fancy new golf club fore grip rod was featured in the latest addition of FlyFisherman Mag that I just received. Redington is owned by Sage, and made over seas producing a mid-priced rod price point. The red fore grip rod was named Best of Show this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

While I like the golf club grips, I think there will be durability issues with them. Golf clubs get re-gripped all the time, it's not as easy to do on a fishing rod. Overseas products aren't necessarily bad, look at the market for JDM bass gear over here. I'm still shocked everytime I get asked by someone out of the blue for a business card to have a custom rod built. These folks care about their gear and support what it means to be made in the USA. Contributing to the growth of our economy in a larger way than contributing to a US company who sends money overseas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 1 day ago

Mostly BS from those guy's with money. I worked as a buyer/retailer in a quality clothing/outdoor gear store in Seattle. Anyone that called themselves an outdoor enthusiast had to come in to see us when they were in town. I outfitted, and got to know Billy Martin very well, and a lot of pro sports players. I was the tackle buyer. Reggie Jackson, and a lot of the multi-millionaire ball players would slip down to our "bargain basement" and load up on discount merchandise. "Talks cheap, whiskey costs money" as my fishing buddy use to say. And here is the advertising print for that grip on the "Vapen".....better traction than cork, feels softer, and more comfortable..firm enough it doesn't drain power. Other advantages..doesn't pick up dirt like cork..easier to clean, and it does not chip, dent, or flake. Easy to grip in the tropics where sweat, sunscreen, and bonefish slime can quickly make a cork handle as hard to hold as a bar of soap. AND YOU can buy the cork handle for $50 less!! And that's why it was best of show for 2013, and made "over seas." And they say it is just as applicable for freshwater.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired Chief wrote 29 weeks 9 hours ago

"broom-tail doggers" ... and again with calling a fly rod a "STICK". Well, at least you did not call your fish Pigs, Hogs, Toads, or Slobs. I try to buy Made-in-the-USA whenever I can. Very difficult these days.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 hours ago

WalMart is full of those folks that have a "Buy USA Manufactured" bumper sticker on their vehicle. What the uneducated don't realize is how many more, and by a big margin, workers in the USA depend on the sales of foreign made products than if they were made here at home.....and that's a fact.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 29 weeks 3 hours ago

Sounds like you are one of them ClinchDanglyFu. "workers in the USA depend on the sales of foreign made products". Would you scoff at someone who walked into the shop and asked to se products that are made in the USA.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

Why even get into that worthless discussion? Does foreign made parts, and then assembled in the USA qualify as USA made? What if you show someone a shirt, boots, fly rod made in the USA for X amount of dollars, and then show them the same quality product for less than 1/2 the cost that is foreign made? How long do you think someone could keep their doors open selling all USA made products? Maybe when they fold up you, and your friends could rush in, and buy things at a fraction of the cost on their "going out of business" sale. Most of the time you don't make much sense koldkut. Then you are forced to turn to character assassination.....sad.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 6 days ago

If you were a true patriot you'd want to preserve far more American worker jobs by supporting the best commerce, and not products made in the USA that produce poor sales.(in large part) Gets down to a basic understanding of good business, and being able to recognize it. You are buying into the unionism theme song of "BUY AMERICAN" that needs protectionism to exist, and produces poor products because they can't, and don't want to compete.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment