thanks for the comments. The fact that i fought and landed fish this way with the Sage RPL leads me to believe that i am NOT expecting too much out of a graphite rod. I agree that a glass rod would take the bending a lot easier, but I fear I would loose too much "backbone" strength in the switch to a glass rod. Also most of the glass rods I have seen in this size/weight range had butt sections about the diameter of a quarter.
Thanks for the suggestions - I may just have to try and find an old multi piece RPL blank somewhere. I was hoping to try and get by with a less expensive option which is what lead me to the St. Croix in the first place - but i can't argue with the service the 2-piece RPL has given me. I know what you mean about keeping an eye on the ferrules, I had one work loose lawn casting this summer and it quickly clipped the top 1/2" off the male end.
Thanks for the comments! I had heard so many people of late singing the praises of the multi piece rods, saying that today there was no difference between the 2-piece and the multi-piece in terms of action and performance. That combined with the ever increasing difficulties in air travel made me think that it was time to look into the multi-piece rods more closely. I am confident that there is a multi-piece rod out there that will fit my needs - its just becoming a more painful searching process, one I had not intended to be by trial and error.
Thanks again for all your comments!