Yeah, the rod and gun companies are not having the best time of it. I read the economy as "stable and with limited growth" at present.
In addition, in today's world, we are fighting a quiet battle to remain a viable sport.
We now have PETA, Friends of Animals, more posted land, limited funds for Fish and Game Depts., etc. to contend with.
In addition, too many extra-curriculum sports for the kids, all "organized" and supervised by adults. (Something about "sand-lot" ball - no adults involved - taught us a lot about how to resolve problems among ourselves - and was a good lesson for us.) Lots of us got into fishing and other outdoor sports due to family members taking us.
Today, the kids in school have their choice of softball, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, swimming, skiing, tennis, golf, field hockey, La Crosse, etc. How many schools even encourage fishing???
Now many consider us to be into "blood sports". And check out the number of golf courses vs. trout streams in your area.
There are only a few coming into the fold. Look around on the rivers - how many young folks do you see? Mostly, it's only us "old farts" out there.
So the "name" brands of rods are not having the best time of it.
I have, and use, rods from Cabella's, and they are nice rods. Their replacement policy is exceptional. Caught lots of steelies on 'em, too. Yeah, I have a couple of premier rods, too, and they also get used.
I really think that the "custom" rod will be more and more common as the old "premier" brands start to fold. That way, a guy can get EXACTLY what he wants, if he is willing to pay for it. And, the custom rod is generally less expensive than the top brands, even when they use the same blank.
At least, that's the way I see it.