Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters, a powerhouse of online sales, has introduced a new line of fly rods under their Red Truck brand. Strangely enough, that same brand happens to be their outlet store moniker, but I immediately thought about how premium rod makers would feel having a retailer producing their own rods. Then I saw the warranty…
– If your Red Truck fly rod breaks due to manufacturer defect, of course we will replace the broken section or make appropriate replacement for the usable lifetime of your rod
– If you break your Red Truck fly rod due to normal fishing, we ask that you pay the reasonable replacement price, comparable to the shipping and handling fees most manufacturers charge, for the section/s of the rod you (or your car door, or your four-legged friend) broke.
In other words…
Most fly rod brands build in an extra “insurance” cost on every fly rod they manufacture, knowing that this will cover the cost of the few who abuse their fly rods. For those who take care of their angling equipment, it’s pure profit for “The Man.”
But what about you? You take great care of your fly rods and might never need a breakage warranty “built-in” to the retail cost of the rod.
At Red Truck, we know that fly rods break, but we believe that you should only pay for what you use.
Fair enough. And an h/t to Moldy Chum.
Meanwhile, Deeter & Company recently broached the issue in the midst of discussing the plethora of tougher product about to hit the streets. Within was this nugget…
One industry insider I talked with (whose company eats about $2 million a year replacing broken rods) said that the rod warranty is still one of the biggest disasters ever to hit the fly rod world. And I’m not sure most consumers even like it.
There you have it folks: one side pushing rods at rock bottom prices without the unconditional warranty, and the other trying to build them better so they’ll never need to be fixed in the first place. Confusing, eh?
Of course, there are other manufacturers out there selling at Leland’s price points that will still replace your stick for no charge, but the shop does one better by saying if the Red Truck isn’t hands down your favorite rod they’ll take it back. They don’t tell you whether you’ll get a refund, but it is certain they’ve got a place to sell it used. You can also be sure that no matter how indestructible a fly rod is engineered, there is an angler who will find a way to break it. However, if even a small percentage of rods come away unscathed as a result of better builds, it looks like a positive. After R&D and other fixed costs are finally absorbed, of course.
Who wins and who loses under these scenarios? Will Leland’s new line become everyone’s rod of choice, or will the eBay rivers wind up running blood Red? Can premium rods with armor plating reinvigorate the sport, or are the price points still too high for the folks struggling with their second mortgage loans?
Even bigger question: How will other rod makers react, and where does the local fly shop fit in to all this?
MG signing off (with nothing but questions)