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John McCoy

Holy cow.

I’ve been thinking about updating some of my fishing equipment, so lately I’ve been thumbing through catalogues to see what’s available.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’ve been out of the market for too long.

Way too long.

The first thing I looked for was a set of wading boots to wear over my waist-high stocking-foot waders.

A year or two ago, I discovered that my arches had fallen and my shoe size had increased.

That experience showed me that the last thing I should do is to try to squeeze my feet into undersized boots and attempt to wade a rocky trout stream. Before my foot-size increase got diagnosed by an observant shoe-store clerk, I had spent 10 painful months trying to walk and jog in undersized running shoes.

I thought it would be difficult to find size-14 wading boots, and that I’d pay a pretty penny when I did.

Well, I found boots in that size easily enough, but finding boots I could afford turned out to be another matter entirely.

If memory serves, the last pair of medium-duty wading boots I purchased cost about $125. Comparable boots cost almost twice that now. The price goes up for heavier-duty models. One pair I saw carried a price tag of $399.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see how much it would cost to replace my waders, which are now close to 20 years old. The least-expensive pair of comparable waist-highs would set me back $279. The most-expensive ones would put a $500 dent in my bank account.

No thanks. I’ll reluctantly spring for some new boots, but I’ll wait until my old waders start to leak before I attempt to replace them.

Spooked somewhat by what wading gear costs nowadays, I turned with some trepidation to find out how much a light-action fiberglass fly rod would set me back.

When I took up fly fishing 43 years ago, fiberglass rods were widely available and quite inexpensive. Graphite rods hadn’t been on the market very long, but were rapidly taking it over.

A pretty nice fiberglass rod could be had for about $60, so I bought one. It served me well until I was able to upgrade to graphite.

Trends run in circles, and lately a market niche has reopened for fiberglass rods, particularly those short enough to be used for small-stream fishing.

I think a slow-action fiberglass rod might be a bit more forgiving of my shaky, old-man casting stroke than any of the graphite rods in my current arsenal. With that in mind, I started to research what a good-quality fiberglass rod goes for nowadays.

Oh, my aching wallet!

The first model I looked up retailed for $779, almost three times the most I’ve ever paid for any of my rods. Another carried a whopping $995 price tag.

Fortunately, those turned out to be two of the higher-priced examples. Most of the rest ranged between $200 and $500 — much more reasonable, but still a bit pricey for me.

So now I’m looking for high-performance fiberglass rod blanks, with the idea that I’ll just build the small-stream “rod of my dreams,” instead of buying a complete one. It won’t cost quite as much that way, and maybe — just maybe — the time I spend assembling components and wrapping guides will take my mind off the ever-rising prices of today’s fly-fishing gear.

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231, or follow @GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

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