RE:If I had $500...what sw rod should I buy?
I cannot impress enough to go and cast all kinds of rods regardless of brand. Each rod has it's offerings and to some the rod may be a beautiful wand while others feel like you should be sweeping out the garage with it. I am a pretty devoted T and T guy, yet some of my friends do not like them, because of the way they cast. I would go to a reputable shop and ask for 4 or 5 rods to try regardless of brand. Even bring a note pad and make notes cause it can get confusing...and let's face it, they are not cheap ! Make sure it has a good warranty. Honestly, in my opinion there are not many bad rods out there. Just alot of good to excellent ones.....as a final thought, I would encourage you to lean towards a 9 wt. It gives you more options for the wind and if you do get some big fish or Albies, you can still play them and still get them in to be released safely.....