Made in the USA? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Made in the USA?


Eddie
01-31-2006, 09:54 AM
So we have been hearing about what a great value the offshore brands (Echo, TFO, Beulah, Albright et. all). I have cast and fished with many of them, and I am impressed. But I have not fished with the lower priced Sage, T&T, and Scott rods. How do their $220 rods compare to the Asian competition? Apples to apples. Same # of sections and priced...say within 15 bucks.
Has anyone cast and fished with the less expensive made in the USA rods. Are St.Croix still made here?
Powell should definitely figure into this discussion.

bluenose
01-31-2006, 10:05 AM
My St. Croix Imperial ( no longer made ) and my Tioga reel are both U.S. products. The price on both was reasonable taking into acount the exchange on the Canadian dollar.

Both rod and reel are rock solid dependable and both are covered by a lifetime warranty. The St. Croix has a medium action that suits me perfectly.

Regards

BigDave
01-31-2006, 10:40 AM
I have fished the Powell rods quite a bit, especially the TiMax which is around the same price as the TFO TiCr-X. The hardware quality is better than the TFO in my opinion particularly the cork and reel seat. I put a 7wt TiMax through 10 days of bonefishing and it handled it admirably. BTW - the action of those 2 rods are completely different but that is a whole different discussion.

I have cast the Sage FLI and while I liked the action of the rod the hardware was lacking. I have a scott SAS which is a great casting rod for the money but I think it has been discontinued....

teflon_jones
01-31-2006, 11:12 AM
St Croix rods are all still made the in USA last I knew...

bluenose
01-31-2006, 12:10 PM
For 2006, St. Croix has a new model which replaces the Imperial. It is made off shore. You can check it out on their website.

Regards

Eddie
01-31-2006, 01:45 PM
too bad, scratch st.croix form the domestic side of the discussion.

shotgunner
01-31-2006, 07:20 PM
St croix still offers the 'Avid' line up. first of three series of U.S. rods. its VERY similar in price to TFO's TiCr series.

i thought all scott rods are U.S. origin?

does Sage use a domestic blank on the FLi and launch series or do they out source them? makes you wonder........... redingtons in disguise?

BLACK FRANCIS
01-31-2006, 10:17 PM
all Scott rods are made in Colorado. i would put any of their rod series' against a comparable priced offshore rod. their quality is exceptional in even the V2 their cheapest line with rods starting at $165 for two piece and going up to $195 for a heavy four piece. as far as i know all Sage's are still made here as well. i am not familiar with the new lines but i certainly wouldn't leave them out of the pile to try. both have unconditional warranties. the T&T XL4's while not being cheap are made in usa and are of extremely high quality. i fished one on the delaware river last summer and would never have thought for a moment it was a lesser line. anyone who knows the delaware knows what kind of casting i'm talking about too. i guess the point is there are great US made rods out there, but the truly cheap offshore rods seem to get all the attention.

Eddie
01-31-2006, 10:42 PM
There are inexpensive rods made in the US. You never hear about them. Weird.

juro
01-31-2006, 11:47 PM
Personally it does not matter to me where something is made providing it gives me the performance, joy of ownership, durability and lastly price I can afford. I will stretch the affordability range to get what I want more often than compromise to save money, but everyone buys differently.

Ford F-series trucks are made in Canada and Honda cars are made in Ohio. Fly rod taper designs usually originate in different hands than those wrapping carbon fiber on mandrels.

As long as affordable gear is getting more anglers interested in fly-fishing in the US then I think global competition is a good thing. If you're old enough to sign up on this site then you were around when the price of fly gear was a huge barrier to entry.

SSPey
02-01-2006, 12:19 AM
I like the idea of using tackle made in a place where that tackle actually gets used. I've always felt Winston made great trout rods, Sage made great steelhead rods, T&T made fine (bamboo-like) rods, Abel and Pate/Tibor at the tops of saltwater games, Loop/Danielsson for fine modern anadromous reels, Hardy for traditional trout and anadromous reels, etc. All cases where real anglers had ideas for superior products, and came up with home-grown solutions. This doesn't imply they're superior to all others, but there is something satisfying and special for me about sporting tackle originating from a place or region with a long tradition in sporting endeavors.

MCorder
02-01-2006, 07:04 AM
Used 2 St. Croix Imperials for 3 years in Kodiak, an 8 and 9 wt. Worked great, handled the salmon with ease, both in fresh and salt water. Used the 9 wt for a couple of years on La Red Fish, did just fine.
Before purchasing I called the factory to talk toa rep, great experiance, I asked about the rod and he asked about fishing in Alaska...conversation went on for about 45 minutes!
St. Croix's are great rods (IMHO).
Later
Matt

Eddie
02-01-2006, 10:19 AM
I am not trying to take anything away from the import rods, just wondering how the Sage and Scott and T&T $200 something rods stack up to the $200 something TFO, Albright etc. rods.

rankinstein
02-01-2006, 11:45 PM
:whoa: :cool: Hello all been reading this post over a few times been biting my tongue but here goes!! I live in Canada and know people who make these Ford trucks don't forget that Ford is American owned and Honda Japanese owned but made here in North America.In this country and in the U.S. there is a thing called quality control and a long history of experience I seriously doubt if it is that stringent offshore nor is the experience of rod making since it hasn't been that long since these rod companies have started out sourcing.I posted before on this subject and have been cautioned because I never took into account that good gear is also made in Sweden( Loop Danielsson)England (Hardy J.W. Young some Orvis),Canada (Islander).I guess the point I am trying to make is manufacturing is on a steady decline in North America where is it going ???(Offshore)You have to pay for quality.The jobs should stay in North America .If this continues maybe we should all go and buy our gear at Wal Mart then we could all have that skanky plastic smell every time you open up your rod tube. Sage makes some very good lower end products buy those, shop around take into account that every time you buy a North American product the money goes into your economy not someone else's.I work in the auto industry in Windsor Ont. and every day see more market share sliding away.I don't wish to cause a **** storm or stir up trouble that comes easy enough,i just feel that you should buy North American first.

nmbrowncom
02-02-2006, 05:05 AM
at the risk of getting into a political debate, i'm from the captialist,supply/demand school of thought. if a product or industry is not competitive in either price or quality it deseves its fait. such is the case of the north american auto industry. the products are crap and overpriced. the imports are better and cheaper and have been for a long time. change or become extinct. fly rods are a diiferent story in my view. while generally the imports are good for the money, they do not compare with the domestic high end rods, except those imports that are high end in both price and quality.they may be hyped to the eye balls but in actuality they are "value" rods, not great rods. in my view, the orvis, sage ,t&t and of course st croix lower end rods are as good if not better than the tfo's and others, and comparably priced.

Smolt
02-02-2006, 12:04 PM
Just an aside about cars and jobs. I was surprised to learn that, in the US, the number of workers employed by the auto industry over the last 10 years or so has remained pretty constant. While Michigan has lost thousands of jobs as a consequence of the sales decline among the US Big 3 (now Big 2 if the "US" prefix is used), other states have gained jobs due to Honda, Toyota, etc. opening plants here.

If quality and price are equal, I still prefer to "Buy American". I'll do that with fishing rods or automobiles.

With respect to rods, one has to be impressed with the quality of the product offered by Powell, Albright, TFO, and ECHO. The more practice the offshore workers get in producing rods, the higher quality rods they will produce. (I am old enough to remember when Sony and other Japanese brand electronics were a joke.)

My view is that US produced fly rods are still my preference and so long as I and others buy them, the shift to offshore products may be slowed a bit. However, the trend is most likely irreversible, especially now that China has tasted some of the "benefits" of capitalism. Such is life in a Darwinian world.

juro
02-02-2006, 01:02 PM
We shouldn't look at the goods themselves as objects in a trade war when they are just inanimate objects. Such is not a comparison between foreign and domestic goods, it's a discussion about commerce and trade practices. US businesses started the trend to go offshore and now many are following suit. These trends have been and always will be created by domestic capitalism.

There is always a way to win global market share in the free world - build a better product at a better price. Failing that any country can expect gobal competition in the 21st century. See the big picture, it's not the rods or cars driving trends it's people.

.02

Eddie
02-02-2006, 05:47 PM
I am not trying to get into a discussion about the good/bad effects of globalism. We can all agree that the trend is irreversable and importd rods can be a terrific value.
In this thread, I am trying to figure out if the mid priced US made rods ($175-$245) are competitive with the imports.
I should add that Powell blanks are made in CA (still?). And Loop was a pioneer in offshore manufacturing. Loop doesn't "make" anything. They are a design/marketing company (like Waterworks/Lamson). They are still the only company that was able to sell Asian manufactured rods at premium prices. To top that off, the margins they gave dealers were pretty poor. They must have been making some pretty good money on their rods.

GrantK
02-02-2006, 05:54 PM
There is always a way to win global market share in the free world - build a better product at a better price. Failing that any country can expect gobal competition in the 21st century. See the big picture, it's not the rods or cars driving trends it's people.

No offense intended here Juro. That might make for some great discussion of macroeconomic theory, but it falls well short of explaining basic realities of a global marketplace. In a world economy production jobs will go to where production costs are lowest. Production costs are lowest in places where labor is cheap. Labor is cheapest in places with a very low standard of living and where restrictive regulations regarding labor do not exist. This isn't rocket science guys. Asian produced goods, particularly in China, cost less to produce because Asian workers work for pennies an hour with little or no regulatory interference.

The unfortunate corollary to this reality is that Americans have a huge appetite for cheaply produced goods. We subsidize our own standard of living, increasing our consumption exponentially, by importing goods that would be many more times expensive if they were produced domestically--or even in another fully industrialized nation with labor laws that prevent, for example, child labor and where most manufacturing workers don’t live in huts without electricty for that matter.

We are running an enormous trade deficit these days, particularly with China, and it is impossible to overstate how serious the consequences of that are going to be for this nation in the future. Every time one of us goes to WalMart and buys a $3.00 t-shirt that was made in China we screw ourselves just a little bit. Sure, it's nice to have a drawer full of t-shirts, and I'm just as guilty as the next American, but there is no denying that the personal buying practices of each one of us is what's driving the trade deficit, which in turn is guaranteeing some very nasty domestic economic consequences that are becoming increasingly impossible to ignore.

Of course you're right that the guy who makes the better mouse trap and sells it for less can always succeed. The problem is that most Americans are generally more concerned with the latter part of that equation. Domestically produced goods have a very difficult time competing effectively, in terms of price, with goods produced overseas. That's just undeniable.

So in terms of the original question, are the entry level rods made here in the United States comparable to the Asian produced rods we now see proliferating the market? Not really. And, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the rods themselves.

Everyone is so concerned these days about the price of gear keeping people from getting into the sport and the concern of the demise of the small fly shop as a means of attracting and mentoring new participants, but nobody seems to worry about what the impact of not having a viable middle class in this country will be on this sport. And it is not hyperbole to suggest that the trade issues we currently face, particularly the loss of jobs that pay a living wage, are threatening the very existence of the middle class. There was a time when only the most wealthy participated in recreational fishing because they were the only ones that could afford to play with their food. I know a couple guys that can't afford to fish anymore, and that's because it's become increasingly difficult for them to make ends meet generally and not because of the price of gear.

Didn't mean to make this issue sound like it was life and death. After all, buying an Asian rod is not tantamount to clubbing a baby seal, but it's wrong to suggest that buying goods regardless of their place of manufacture is something that occurs in a vacuum. It's a decision with consequences that I think it would be wise for more of us to consider every time we plop down some cash.

juro
02-02-2006, 07:18 PM
Wow that was an excellent analysis. I must admit I expected something other than what I found after reading your opening statement.

However as I read it all I am left thinking that the crux of nearly everything you said reinforced what I had said previously; but to a greater depth and what is surely a well-schooled perspective.

Therefore I would have to conclude that we are in agreement over the fundamentals of this topic.

Bob Reynolds
02-02-2006, 10:02 PM
[QUOTE It's a decision with consequences that I think it would be wise for more of us to consider every time we plop down some cash.[/QUOTE]

No one could have stated a better analysis than you have. I suppose the realization of the impending consequences are destined to be ignored by either the young and foolish or those soon to check out. What I find hard to understand is that although everyone is "cleaning up" on cheap overseas stuff (across the board), surely they must know thier children and grandchildren will be left with absolutely no capital to "clean up" what WAS once the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! How terribly trite Bob.... say goodnight.

GrantK
02-03-2006, 04:03 PM
Therefore I would have to conclude that we are in agreement over the fundamentals of this topic.

I'm not sure that we are in agreement. And again, I don't mean any offense. I guess I should have been clearer with regard to what it is precisely that I disagree with. You stated earlier in the thread that it didn't matter to you where something is made provided it gave you performance at a good price, and that so long as the global competition resulted in people being better able to enter the sport it was a good thing. I'm saying I disagree with both of those premises.

We should care where things are made. We should care deeply about it. And, not just for some lofty altruistic reasons but for good old fashioned self-preservation. When we buy things regardless of their place of manufacture that decision has consequences. Collectively those consequences are great.

Sure there are examples where Fords are manufactured in Canada and Hondas are assembled in the United States, but those endeavors are frequently the result of national trade policies and agreements more so than economic circumstances. Why would a Japanese company assemble their vehicles here? One obvious reason would be to avoid tariffs that would otherwise apply to the vehicles if they were imported as a completed product. Tariffs that were, of course, designed to insulate American manufacturers, and thereby the American workforce, from competition.

Part of the problem with the laissez faire approach to globalization is that it doesn't take into account that there is such a thing as unfair competition. Let me explain my point here with a story. Let's say I wanted to start a dry wall business. I got a contractor's license; paid an attorney to create a formal business organization; got an accountant to do my books; hired a couple employees who I paid through checks drawn on the company account where I deducted all applicable state and federal payroll taxes and made all the employer contributions as required, and for whom I carried all required workman's compensation insurance coverage as required by law. I go to bid a few jobs, and find that my bids are consistently much higher than another "company" in the area. My bids have had very small margins once all my expenses are accounted for, so I investigate to find out how this other "company" can afford to do the jobs for so little. What I find is that the "company" that is under bidding me so successfully is literally ran out of the back of the truck of a guy who picks up day laborers each day to do the work and then pays them cash out of the front pocket of his jeans each night. He has no license, no bond, doesn't pay taxes, doesn't provide workman's compensation coverage, or otherwise comply with any of the rules or regulations that legitimate contractors must follow.

Everyone can realize that's not fair competition. And, similarly I think all would realize my little dry wall company is in serious trouble. Although the practics of the other "company" are clearly illegal, it happens every single day. The problem is that a lot people don't realize that when an American company competes with a foreign company--particularly a company operating in a place like China--it is virtually the same thing. It is, given the differences in standards of living and regulatory protections of labor in this country as compared to others, unfair competition.

We generally don't recognize that hiring the fly-by-night contractor is morally wrong in this country, and we're even further from realizing that buying foreign produced goods because of their price has consequences. That's too bad, really.

My point before was that people who get very upset about those that don't support the local fly shop in favor of a big box retailer or a large-scale national fly shop operation don't seem to have an issue with the importation of rods that undercut domestic makers. Seems odd to me. They're willing to view the competition on volume from larger retailers as something smaller shops can't overcome, but unwilling to accept that foreign production is something with which domestic makers can't generally compete, either.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread here, but I think this issue is very germane to the question of the import rods we see so much of now. I'm saying that if you're the kind of person who thinks buying from the local shop is important then you should be the kind of person that thinks buying a rod produced in America is important as well. Personally I am much more concerned about the latter than the former as a real threat to my way of life. Frequently shops have other issues besides competition that brings about their demise, and sometimes those things can or can't be overcome. But, there's not a lot American manufacturers can do to compete with foreign labor.

I am guilty as the next guy, and don't want to come off as though I don't buy foreign goods. Obviously I do. In terms of fly gear, I have a growing collection of Swedish reels. In that case, if I could buy something made in the United States that was comparable in terms of quality and price I would more than likely make the switch. Fortunately with rods, there are lots of American made choices in comparable price ranges. I'm not saying I would never buy an Asian rod, but I am saying that if possible I would prefer a rod built here. I just wish we all had that choice with more products these days. And, as time goes by we'll have fewer and fewer.

I also think it’s important that we realize that participation in recreational activities is directly related to the economic health of the country even more so than prohibitive entry costs. I know lots of folks like to think that “the movie” spawned all the interest in fly fishing in the 90s, and I’m sure it played a role, but how much impact did consumer confidence in the economy play?

juro
02-03-2006, 09:50 PM
Grant,

Sorry I mistook your reply as pertaining to my post which you quoted, not the one that preceded it several layers deep.

In any case I am unable to compile the point you are trying to make from your reply above...

If I understand correctly, I would answer thusly:

The DEA considers the cure to the drug crisis in this country a war against the distribution and organized forces behind them, not the addicts. Likewise I feel it's unrealistic to say that the planetary shift toward global economy is a contest that will be decided in the fly rod buyer's hands.

I think it's a good thing that foreign vehicles are built here (e.g Honda, Toyota) because it creates a lot of high quality jobs and my fellow American citizens are living great lives working for these companies. I have first hand knowledge of the quality of life of the people employed by these companies and they are very happy. I don't think they care whether the mother company is shielded from tarriffs.

On the topic of mother companies, my next rod is going to be a T&T and I am glad Sharpes of Aberdeen UK invested in them to help them move forward as a Massachusetts based operation. I am also saving for that G.Loomis 11ft 7wt two-hander and the fact that Shimano Japan owns them will not keep me from getting my hands on Steve Rajeff's design work. If I buy a Sage Fli series rod I will not be caught up in the dillema because it's made in Asia.

Let me get to the point - the global economy is a reality in the free world that is ultimately not driven by the consumer but by corporations and their strategies for profitability and survival. There is something to be said for buying domestic, but not nearly the gravity you are placing in the fly consumers hands IMHO.

But what do I know, I am just a fishing bum :cool:

nmbrowncom
02-03-2006, 10:16 PM
bottom line:big business controls the congress through money in order for them to support the agenda of big business which is outsourcing manufacturing. the rest is naive hiperbole.

Eddie
02-03-2006, 10:16 PM
ooooh, my brain hurts:whoa:
This thread is officially HIJACKED! Jack Bauer will arrive on the scene shortly. I doubt if he has any experience with the Fli series either. Hey...didn't the Chinese govt. try to kill him?

juro
02-03-2006, 10:22 PM
Yeah who started this thread anyway? EDDIE :lildevl:

Hijacked yes.... but you know I treat this rhetoric like a difficult rising trout or a stubborn cow on Monomoy (the thrill of the chase)... and you'll have to give me extra 'theatrical points' for this quote... The DEA considers the cure to the drug crisis in this country a war against the distribution and organized forces behind them, not the addicts. Likewise I feel it's unrealistic to say that the planetary shift toward global economy is a contest that will be decided in the fly rod buyer's hands.

Is it superbowl sunday yet?

:hihi: :biggrin:

Greg Pavlov
02-03-2006, 10:34 PM
[QUOTE=Smolt]Just an aside about cars and jobs. I was surprised to learn that, in the US, the number of workers employed by the auto industry over the last 10 years or so has remained pretty constant. .....

I don't know what specific statistics you're referencing, but "auto industry"
is a very broad term, encompassing a large portion of our economy's
activity, so I can see why it would remain "pretty constant" even if assembly
employment decreased.

GrantK
02-03-2006, 10:59 PM
[QUOTE=juro]In any case I am unable to compile the point you are trying to make from your reply above... [QUOTE]

Not sure how to state it anymore simply, but here goes. American companies that pay wages to employees that have a high standard of living and must comply with a host of regulatory restrictions and additional associated costs cannot compete on price with companies that produce products with employees who work for cents a day with no regulatory protections whatsoever.

There are two options to dealing with this problem: 1) throwing up one's hands and saying "the global market is just reality"; or, 2) making purchasing decisions that take the unfair competition into account and choose domestically produced goods whenever possible.

Like I said in the first post, it isn't rocket science.

As to the people assembling Hondas in the U.S. I think that many probably, like most Americans, think a tariff is something a cowboy wears to hide his face during a bank hold up. Few would realize that if it weren't for efforts to avoid tariffs there would be no way those cars would be made here. Maybe slapping a nice fat $200.00 dollar tariff on imported rods would be a good answer? And it really does come down to that. If consumers retain high demand for foreign goods then either domestic production is doomed or some form of protectionism is in order. That's the choice.

Fly gear is just a drop in the bucket. Didn't suggest it wasn't. But it all adds up. I mentioned t-shirts in the first post precisely because this country no longer has a textile industry, or furniture industry, or .... pick the manufacturing industry of your choice. Calling the Pittsburgh football team the "Steelers" today is as fanciful and untrue as calling the Cleveland baseball team the "Indians": ain't been none of either in either place for years.

You're DEA point actually is quite good. Although I would object to your conclusion as seeing this problem from the wrong side. It is, in fact, a demand issue. That's why the "War on Drugs" has failed--just like prohibition. Same thing with imports. We have to alter the craving. Without demand supply ceases to be a problem. But then hey, they’re just t-shir...I mean fly rods, right?

juro
02-04-2006, 07:45 AM
Thanks again for taking the time to explain. I see your point.

So our big words aside bottom line is that you see our buying decisions at the flyshop (and the clothes store) as being decisive in the national economy and I am increasingly seeing this as barely influential as the world moves toward a borderless trade environment.

Don't get me wrong as an American citizen I have passion for keeping a strong work force and economic situation in the country. Dependency on Far East fossil fuels really pisses me off. But both you and I buy it - how do we solve that?

Some of the finest fly gear comes from Europe, the computer you are typing on is primarily made in Mexico or Singapore, much of our produce comes from South America, our wine from France and fine foods from Italy. What percentage reading this drive American cars?

Seeing how we drive a lot more than we eat and we eat a lot more than we fish, we'd better fix the oil dependency on our shaky allies in turbans first, no? It's a great emotional commitment to buy only American fly rods, and I am all about emotional commitment but my point is simply that it's not going to solve the problem.

I am much more ashamed that we have rendered the American Atlantic Salmon all but extinct. Maybe someday I can ponder the rod I will buy to pursue them as our ancestors did if efforts to remove dams succeed in bringing them back. Now that's a cause I can get very emotional about.

Interesting discussion however and I truly appreciate your entertaining me on the topic, it's clear that you have much more actual knowledge on the topic than I. I am going to agree to disagree at this point and move on unless you have any follow-up which I will leave uncontested.

thanks again

nmbrowncom
02-04-2006, 08:41 AM
free trade v tariffs-someone mentioned putting a"fat $200 tariff" on imported autos. tarif's are much higher already. problem is that under so called "free trade" our country puts nominal tafifs on the products "developing" countries sell to us while they are allowed to put huge tarifs on the same types of products which we sell to them. example: the us and china just finished a reciprocol trade/tarif deal on autos. we are going to put a 2.5% tarif on the new chinese cars beginning in 2008. the tarif on american cars sold in china will be 25% or 10 mtimes higher. free trade? in other words,under the banner of free trade we have exported and given away our manufacturing and technological edge that it has taken 200 years to develope and we have recieved nothing in return. fly rods are merely a microcosm of the problem. today, american fly rod manufacturers are all doing poorly while the imports are expanding. that's why t&t is no longer an american company. if it is going to survive it must go foreign. fly rods will likely go the way of textiles,steel,shoes and the rest.....

GrantK
02-04-2006, 07:23 PM
free trade v tariffs-someone mentioned putting a"fat $200 tariff" on imported autos.

Please reread the post. The suggestion was a tariff on imported rods, not cars, as an illustration of protectionsim as one of only two solutions.



fly rods are merely a microcosm of the problem. today, american fly rod manufacturers are all doing poorly while the imports are expanding. that's why t&t is no longer an american company. if it is going to survive it must go foreign. fly rods will likely go the way of textiles,steel,shoes and the rest.....

Precisely my point. But it doesn't have to be that way at least with fly rods. It's a small enough market that we can indeed control this issue by addressing demand solely. It's really simple, though. American rod makers will not be around in the long run if people buy foreign rods believing that it really doesn't matter where a rod was made. It's not immoral to buy a foreign rod by any stretch of the imagination, but pretending it has no consequences is not realistic.

Anyway, I realize I'm talking to a wall here. Have a nice life guys.

juro
02-04-2006, 09:08 PM
Grant I said I would not contest what you said and I will not, but in parting I did want to say again that I think you made very salient points. You also had several very supportive posts from other members and I am certain you've influenced readers with your patient and thorough replies.

I think in these discussions the best we can hope for is to express our views. It's rare that people would unilaterally adopt another's perspective just based on a single discussion like this, but it's even more rare that they do not take something away from it and I certainly have.

thanks

nmbrowncom
02-04-2006, 11:39 PM
good point grant. given the small market, perhapsf a degree of self dicipline is possible, sufficient to save american brands

Smolt
02-05-2006, 12:34 PM
Apropos of nothing, I found the following quote from John Ruskin interesting.

There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a
little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on
price alone is this man's lawful prey.

2HandTheSalt
02-06-2006, 09:51 AM
I have been watching this thread with interest for several days now, trying to find time to craft a thoughtful response, but will have to settle for a couple of brief points instead.

Manufacturing jobs chase low production costs combined with stable governments. Just since the ‘70’s you could follow them from USA to Japan, to Korea, to Singapore, to China. This is not because folks in these countries are willing to work for pennies per day and live in dirt floor huts, it is primarily due to currency valuations. As economies develop, currency value increases, cost of living increases, wages increase, and said economy prices itself out of the low-tech manufacturing jobs market. It has been like this since trade existed.

Protectionism, as a defense, benefits only manufacturers and their employees to the detriment of consumers. Think back to the days when the US auto industry had the US market almost entirely to themselves. Remember the quality of those babies? Japanese competition forced US automakers to improve quality. Consumers win.

Competition breeds better quality products at better prices.

I think the motorcycle industry is a good example. Huge tariffs on imported large-displacement motorcycles are the only reason that Harley Davidson is still in business. HD is what is known as an, “ Aspirational brand,” something that people aspire to own. Nobody NEEDS a $ 25,000. motorcycle, but many people WANT one. It is a luxury item, ( Much like an eight-hundred dollar fishing pole.)

But entry level priced motorcycles make it possible for more people to enter the market. The market grows, and more people aspire to own Harley Davidsons, so HD sells more motorcycles. If the Sporster was the least-expensive cycle on the market, how many twenty-five-thousand-dollar-jobbies would HD sell? Not many, because the price barrier to entry would be too high for many people.

Which brings us to the fly rod industry. The entire American fly rod industry has been focused on making, “ Aspirational,” brands. This is great, because there are so many beautiful rods to choose from, but bad for everybody long-term because the cost of entry is too high to interest most people. So the fly rod industry never grows. The statement that, “ The fly rod market is so small that we ought to be able to control it from the purchasing side,” is proof of this. The reason that the market is so small is because it is too expensive.

Prior to the invention of the rubber core golf ball, golf was a sport for the rich because golf balls were too expensive for regular people to afford. The rubber golf ball made it possible for middle-class people to play golf, and golf exploded!

I personally think it is a LOT harder to have fun playing golf than it is to have fun fly fishing.

Which brings me back to imported fly rods. While nowhere near as important as the rubber-core golf ball, good quality imported fly fishing gear is lowering the cost of entry into fly fishing, making it possible for regular folks, and even, gasp, CHILDREN, to enter the sport! And as if that is not good enough, the competition from these foreign brands has caused the aspirational manufacturers to improve the performance of their own entry-level offerings.

So while the small-thinkers at some aspirational fly rod manufacturers are loudly proclaiming to anyone who will listen that imports are, “ Ruining the fly fishing industry,” there are others who understand that something must be done to increase the size of the user base and bring young people into the sport.

There are three-hundred-million people in America, and hardly any of them fly fish. I am 100% convinced that as good performing low-cost equipment allows more people to enter the sport, the sport will grow and the aspirational fly rod brands will grow as well.

None of which is to infer that the fly rod importers are some sort of charity, everybody is in business to earn a living. But if you don’t believe that low cost rods are bringing new people into the sport, I would encourage you to look around at the fly fishing shows and see who is buying what.

Disclaimer: Everything above is my own opinion, and could be entirely wrong.

Eddie
02-06-2006, 03:35 PM
I think that price is hardly a limiting factor in fly fishing. Befor the new crop of import mfg's, it was possible to get inexpensive outfits. As cheap as anything today. The reason more people don't fly fish is because it is hard to learn and hard to find the time. That combined with a general trend away from blood sports is the reason that fishing liscense sales continue to decrease (even with the influx of imported gear).
I think that most people that are expressing concern over the influx of imported fly gear are not so concerned with the consumer, but the growing trend of jobs leaving the country in general. I know that many believe that our new economy will be manufacturing intellectual property, but there has never been a country where every one has desk jobs. I think that people are concerned that when the manufacturing jobs cycle back to the US, the cheap labor will be living in 3rd world conditions.
There is no such thing as a free market.
I suspect that most Harley owners have never owned any other brand.

juro
02-06-2006, 06:11 PM
I find this a respectable, admirable downright noble cause to argue for but unfortunately, tragically, sadly, regretfully I just can't get over the gut feeling that it's not realistic to say that fly rod buying decisions are going to influence world trade or the security of the American manufacturing workforce.

Emotionally I agree completely and I have been compelled by these testimonials however anecdotal they may be. But if we put all of our outdoor gear in a pile and sorted by country of origin the minority of it would be domestic. We are only fooling ourselves by thinking we are in any way controlling commerce by picking this rod or that.

Did someone say buy Chrysler, Dodge or Plymouth? You are buying Daimler Benz. The auto industry is thinking global - that's all GM talks about in their homepage... http://www.gm.com/company/corp_info/

GM boasts that it is currently manufacturing in 32 countries and only one of them is the USofA - read global this, global that. I ain't no trade genius but these guys hire one or two who are and I gotta think they know more about it than we do about what is going on in the world.

.02

GrantK
02-06-2006, 07:02 PM
I really didn't mean to be responsible for a hijack of this thread, and did intend to let it go and not reply again. But a couple points of response are necessary, and then I will not reply again.

Manufacturing jobs chase low production costs combined with stable governments. Just since the ‘70’s you could follow them from USA to Japan, to Korea, to Singapore, to China. This is not because folks in these countries are willing to work for pennies per day and live in dirt floor huts, it is primarily due to currency valuations. As economies develop, currency value increases, cost of living increases, wages increase, and said economy prices itself out of the low-tech manufacturing jobs market. It has been like this since trade existed.

Outsourcing is almost entirely about finding labor that will work for less than prevailing U.S. wages. Some of that is in fact related to currency valuation. Most of it directly relates to disparities in standard of living. And, currency valuation is frequently more relevant in terms of an effect of outsourcing rather than a cause when it comes to globalization. For example, over time there will be an appreciation of foreign currency against the U.S. dollar as the result of exporting manufacturing and high-paying service sector jobs. In fact, this is, along with the impact of the trade deficit which is also exacerbated by outsourcing, a large part of what’s driving the devaluation of the U.S. dollar today.

Governmental stability is important in attracting foreign capital. Limited regulatory interference in the form of protections and benefits for labor even more so. Communist China, for example, has proven alluring to American capital on both fronts.

I don't want this to be a overly theoretical discussion. Suffice it to say that alleging disparate standards of living and the absence of regulatory protections for labor aren't the primary attraction for U.S. companies to other nations in terms of reduced labor costs would be false.

Using China as the example again, the reality is that the standard of living in China is much lower for the average worker than it is in the United States. As a result, they can afford to live on much less. In fact, the average Chinese worker makes about $1500 (measured in U.S. dollars) per year. The average American worker makes more than that per month. The difference in the valuations of our currencies alone could not explain that, and let's not pretend that the average Chinese worker has a standard of living that is even remotely close to that of the average American worker.

Of course American employers have additional costs associated with labor that do not exist in the one-party communist state, either. For example, the cost per month of health insurance for a U.S. worker alone, in most cases, exceeds the total monthly wages of a Chinese worker.

American labor obviously cannot compete effectively with the labor costs of developing nations. We have this unfortunate belief that workers, as much as possible, ought to make enough that they can actually afford to buy the products they produce and that they ought to be afforded certain benefits--generally derived from private market providers. Many undeveloped nations don’t share such quaint notions, and as a result can provide labor at a fraction of the cost.

Rod making is a low-skilled labor. Not rod designing, but rod making. It is one of those things that qualifies as “low-skilled” in the broader context of globalization. So while some U.S. firms continue to innovate and develop rods, the actual manufacture or assembly of these products or services is outsourced. It is outsourced because labor in those other places works for far less and is subject to fewer regulatory restrictions. That labor works for less because it has a much lower standard of living. That exportation will continue to the point that rods are no longer made in this country. That is unless consumers object.

Think back to the days when the US auto industry had the US market almost entirely to themselves. Remember the quality of those babies?.

Yeah, I do remember. Saw a 1957 Chevy on television the other night on a program about Cuba. Despite a trade embargo that would have prevented getting parts from the United States for that car since the 1960s she was still on the road. Then I noticed something else: all of the cars I saw there were American built circa 1950s. Geeze, here it is fifty years later in many cases and they're still on the road. It is indeed hard not to remember the "quality of those babies."


Competition breeds better quality products at better prices.

Most of the time. But there is such a thing as unfair competition, and its results are not necessarily positive for the consumer in the long run. To be a "consumer" you must have disposable income with which to consume. Have to have a job for that, unfortuantely. The higher paying that job the more things that can be consumed which are not directly related to survival. The lower paying that job....well, I'm sure you get the point.

The rubber golf ball made it possible for middle-class people to play golf, and golf exploded!

The existence of the middle class made it possible for the middle class to play golf. I'm pretty sure they have rubber golf balls in China, don't they? Lots of average Chinese workers playin' golf over there? Maybe that's a cultural thing. Are they involved in other liesure activities that require a fairly considerable amount of disposable income like golf?

The problem is that outsourcing threatens the very existence of the middle class in this country. How many people without good jobs take up fly fishing? How many people whose high-paying jobs are sent offshore and are faced with taking lower-paying, frequently even part-time service sector employment, take their kids fishing?

So while the small-thinkers at some aspirational fly rod manufacturers are loudly proclaiming to anyone who will listen that imports are, “ Ruining the fly fishing industry,” there are others who understand that something must be done to increase the size of the user base and bring young people into the sport.

Could be. Of course there's maybe another side, isn't there? Could be that the "small-thinkers" at some of the companies importing rods are concerned more with personal profit than exporting industry, couldn't it? Could be that they see an opportunity to take advantage of a disparity in labor costs to import a product that companies who produce their goods in the United States cannot effectively compete against, couldn't it? Could be that they see a chance to place those products in a market with very strict price enforcement practices intended to protect small retailers at a much lower price in order to grab market share, couldn't it? Could be that they don't see the threat of outsourcing itself to the American middle class which is largely the consumer of fly rods, couldn't it? There's nothing wrong with any of those things. Free market capitalism isn't, as you suggest, a charity. There is no need to have an altruistic motivation. But the truth is probably more along the lines that the rods are being imported and sold for profit reasons than simply as a quest to expand the sport. And again, there's nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

There are three-hundred-million people in America, and hardly any of them fly fish. I am 100% convinced that as good performing low-cost equipment allows more people to enter the sport, the sport will grow and the aspirational fly rod brands will grow as well.

I sincerely hope you're right. Unfortunately, I am 100 percent convinced that as the middle class in this nation shrinks--which it is in fact doing in no small part do to outsourcing--there will be fewer people who can afford to be interested in things like fly fishing.

I understand all too well that fly rods are a drop in the bucket. But I also feel that I can and should do what I can personally to fight the tide. For me that means whenever possible buying a rod made in this country. That means whenever possible buying anything made here over a product made elsewhere. And when it comes to service providers? Forget about it. I make a call to a company and find that my services are being rendered in another country I find a new company to work with. If everyone did that we might have a chance. Unfortunately, most are unaware or don't care or both. Is it realistic to think we can change the realities of outsourcing as consumers alone? No. Does that mean we shouldn't try? What do I know, I actually admire rather than pity Don Quixote.

Okay, sorry for taking up the space again. Have a nice life guys.

juro
02-06-2006, 09:12 PM
Grant,

Several of us have replied to you in a manner that should assure you that your views are as welcome as any. There is no need to leave the community in angst just because some have provided counterpoint, especially when you clearly have consensus with many albeit not all.

Afterall this is a FORUM, unilateral and complete alignment on one perspective is rare and likely not possible. However by taking the time to share our views as you have done we all gain and grow.

.02

GrantK
02-06-2006, 09:27 PM
Juro,

I was thrown for a minute with what you were saying, but then I realized it sounded like I was signing off from the board. I say "have a nice life" a lot. :chuckle: It makes me laugh and I'm easily amused (yeah, everyone who read this thread already knew that). Just signing off from this discussion. Didn't mean to sound melodramatic. And thanks for the kind words. I know we all don't agree. That's good. If we did it would be boring.

SSPey
02-06-2006, 09:54 PM
I understand all too well that fly rods are a drop in the bucket.

please tell my WIFE that - she won't listen to me!!! especially the fly reels, where I seem to have a bigger problem :chuckle:

Eddie
02-07-2006, 07:52 PM
grant, well put.

phlyphyshr
02-17-2006, 01:01 AM
OK I'll dive into this one, if we (USA) paid our employees .52 cents an hour (going rate in China) you could buy a Scott or Sage rod, made in USA, taper designed in USA, hand rolled and built in USA for the same $10 that is costing to build rods for in China by machine!

What you should really be pissed off at, is the margins being made on imported rods. Most of them cost $7-$20 to build, you're paying $90 - $300 for them!

An American rod maker is lucky to make 15% on his line, imports are making 100%-500%+ on their's!

Yes, manufacturing is on the decline in this country, but most of it is in major consumables. Something as personal as a fly rod, should be made by people who put their heart and soul into creating the "experience" not by someone who has no idea why he's putting all those rings on a tomtato stake!

juro
02-17-2006, 09:58 AM
An American rod maker is lucky to make 15% on his line, imports are making 100%-500%+ on their's!


And so to reiterate an earlier point - presuming these numbers are reasonably accurate then who is making that whopping margin?

A: The guy up the street from US driving the hummer

The factory in China is glad to feed it's workers. Capitalism is it's own worst enemy.

Eddie
02-17-2006, 10:03 AM
If the going rate $.55 an hour, I doubt that there are any machines involved.

Sean Juan
02-17-2006, 11:20 AM
Just wanted to add another point to the discussion.

I think the biggest reason that rods like TFO are so popular is because when you buy a roughly 200 dollar rod from them you are buying their best top of the line rod, if you buy a 200 dollar rod from say Sage - you are buying their lowest line of rods.

I really think its a pyschological thing more than anything spend the same money and you could have what is perceived as the best from one company or the worst from another. When in reality there is little difference between the two.

The Best thing an American company could do would be to have a sub-company that only offers mid-priced rods. That way when a shopper who has 200 bucks to spend feels like they bought something special, not a defect, reject, or leftover.

Perception is reality.

chromer
02-17-2006, 11:26 AM
I do not agree that low priced rods are as good as high priced rods. You got the hardware and cork, flex,guides are economized on the low price rod.

I don;t think the differences are worht the gap in price but they are not the same. To me my sport deserves better than a cheap rod so I buy the best I can affort and luckily thats more than $200 for now anyway. I look at fly gear as lifetime investment in my #1 hobby. Top gear is part of my passion for it.

Just my two cents

flytyer
02-17-2006, 02:16 PM
Chromer,

I agree, the best TFO or other low priced rod brand is not as good as the high end rods from the best (or as many unfortunately see it, the over-priced brands) high-end, high-priced rod makers. The tapers are not nearly as refined, they have not been tested as extensively, they are not made of the latest graphites, nor do they use the latest scrims. All of this cost money for the company to do and since the most advanced high end fly rods contitute less a percentage of the market than lower priced ones, the companies need to charge more to make a profit on the most expensive ones.

Granted, TFO, ECHO, Redington, etc. have very capable rods on the market at a price point that was unheard of just of few years ago (the wonders of having them made offshore where wages and benefits are less than in North Amercica, Japan, or Europe). They will also serve the average fly fisherman very well, and are terrific for those just getting into our sport. However, the best casters, most experienced fly fishers, and those with good casting technique notice the difference right away between the low priced TFO, ECHO, etc. and the top end T&T, Sage, G. Loomis, CND, Meiser, Burkheimer, Anderson, Loop, B&W, St. Croix, Sharpes, etc. because of the tapers have more development time put into them and the more advanced materials and composite engineering that went into them allow the experience fly fisher, best caster, and those with good casting technique cast better with less effort.

What I'm saying is that is not only the grade of cork, guides, finish, wrap quality, and reel seats that makes the difference. If a person wants to buy and fish a TFO, ECHO, etc. fine go for it and enjoy your rods; but please quit trying to convince us that they are the equal of or better than the top rods from T&T, Sage, G. Loomiks, Loop, CND, Meiser, etc.