Over the years I have formed personal opinions of fly rod manufacturers, based on my experiences with lots of purchases--some good, some bad, some in between. I have had Diamondback, Loomis, Sage, St Croix, Fenwick, Hardy, Orvis and others (including Winston, which I inadvertently left out of the original post). I have tended to buy rods that were mid-priced or expensive, so I have not sampled bargain brands or bargain rods within the major brands. My favorite over the years has been Sage, but I have been disappointed with their recent offerings, and have had to rethink my preferences recently. In this rethinking process, I have decided that in 2013, my personal favorites are:
1. Top-of-the-line, expensive rods: Loomis LP
2. Expensive (but not the most expensive): Hardy Zenith
3. Mid priced: St Croix Legend Elite
I am not saying that I can defend this listing--only that is my current view of relative quality in these price categories. I should also add that I am speaking about fast action graphite trout rods, such as a 9' 5 wt rod. I know little about 2-3 weights or 7-8 weights, and my stated preferences do not reflect what might be available in such light or heavy rods.
I am curious about others preferences and biases in rods today. Please share your preferences and biases in rods that are available for retail purchase in 2013.