Cast Before Purchase, Or Shake and Buy?

That's my good friend and editor of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters John Frazier test casting a Rise rod with guide Amanda Switzer at the Somerset Fly Fishing Show last weekend. The line to get a turn on the casting pool was rather long, which I found encouraging. And watching the show-goers send casts to Hula Hoops floating down range got me thinking about the way anglers purchase rods.

No one will argue that the best thing you can do before buying a rod, be it a fly rod or conventional stick, is cast it. I mean you probably plan on having it a long time, so you would think really feeling what it can do and how it fits your hand on the cast would be a no-brainer. But I am just as guilty of the in-store grip, wiggle, shake, flex, and walk to the register.

I strive not to do this with fly rods, and have no qualms about asking a shop owner to walk out back for a test. To be honest, I hate casting at expos like Somerset, because then you have an audience and heaven forbid you snag the line in the rafters. With conventional gear, a good shop should be fine with you at least flipping a jig down the aisle, but I once asked to short-cast in the archery range of a certain sporting goods chain and was met with odd stares and mumbles.

How often do you actually test a rod before dropping the coin? Is the wiggle and shake enough?