Recently I have been fishing trout some streams with a Diawa Legalis on a $50 Field And Stream UL rod I got at Dicks, and I have been having a blast. The combo works well enough for inline spinners (basically like a reaction technique), and I never worry about scratching it on rocks, dropping it in the water, etc. When I take my nice combos out, I always feel obligated to take a reel cover and rod sleeve, and am worried about setting the rod down anywhere near any rocks. I also have a moment of panic every time I try to take rods in and out of my car.
I'm not saying that decent gear is a waste-I have been really enjoying My Chronarch/Poison Adrena combo this year. However, when I look at some of my Expride glass rods, I honestly think it is a waste. I prefer my graphite Mojo Bass spinnerbait rod at $130 to those $280 glass rods. For Keitechs, Frogs, and all reaction, IMO a Curado and a cheap fairly cheap graphite stick will do.
Anyway, I have decided to halt on the gear purchases for a while, and enjoy what I have. I would also add that it may be cheaper to just jump to Metanium/Conquest type combos for bottom contact than to constantly upgrade other setups. The amount of losses you take from shipping a rod, coupled with the huge depreciation of it not being new, is not worth it to me anymore.
In short, while I love my combo rack in my apartment which cost me around 4K in the last year and a half, I sometimes wish I had stuck to cheap stuff and put the money towards a boat or cooler car, or my student loans, instead.
I think high-end combos are amazing because they make fishing much more fun. If I catch 4 bass in an hour I'll still spend 52 minutes (and possibly 50 casts) NOT catching fish, and if those 50 casts are fun (i.e. because feeling bottom on a super sensitive jig rod is addictive) I'm objectively having more fun than if I was using less sensitive equipment. I might also feel a couple of bites that I otherwise wouldn't have.
BUT, if taking care of these high-end combos during the trip adds more stress than enjoyment, the balance shifts, and I can totally sympathize with that because I bank-fish 95% of the time and often bush-whack my way to the final spot. Carrying 3x $800 combos when doing that, and having to make sure you put them down gently and in a protected spot when switching rods can be taxing. Every time I'm on a boat with my kids and they're all over the place I'm worried about somebody stepping on an expensive rod tip; that's not fun or relaxing, either. (And if a rod breaks, it really puts a huge damper on the entire trip, of course.)
It sounds like you're doing a lot of fishing right now where a more sensitive rod doesn't really give you any advantages or add enjoyment to a retrieve. I think throwing inline spinnerbaits for trout doesn't really benefit from high-end equipment - I've thrown those baits on cheap Shakespeare sticks and I've thrown them on a Expride 6'10" ML, and that Expride didn't really enhance that experience. And with streams you're in an environment that's not very kind to equipment unless you take extra care of it. I think your post makes perfect sense here.
But if I'm going jig fishing or dropshotting for bass in 50 foot deep water, or if I'm navigating a swim jig through a bunch of grass and benefit from being able to distinguish between snags and bites, I think I'll have much more fun on a Destroyer FMJ or NRX 822 DSR or 843 GLX or whatever compared to doing the same on a $100 rod.
Once a reel starts losing performance tolerance, it's just is more struggle to use it. There is just something about a higher end machine and the tolerance on them for performance merits. Heck just spinning the reel handle empty in hand is relaxing with some reels.
same, I do love the mid range gear but IMO the high end gear is just amazing to use.
I have low end stuff that I enjoy using as much as my high end stuff.
I have been river trout fishing a lot as of lately as well. My combos consists of three cheaper daiwa 750 size reels and presso rods. They have been dunked, placed on sand and rocks, gotten covered in powerbait gue. They serve their purpose and I'm not too worried about their condition. They still get cleaned and taken care of - I don't neglect them but I don't baby them neither.
I wouldn't dare take my stellas or poison adrena out there. I reserve them only for my boat, to keep them clean and scratch free. Each piece of equipment has its purpose.
Just like I wouldn't take a Porsche through a mud hole, I'm not going to expose my high end combos to unnecessary roughness.
I enjoy just about all my tackle. If I don't like it, i get rid of it. There lies my problem though, I like too much stuff. Over the years I have amassed too much tackle. Darn that monkey.
When the Porsche works...
I personally have gone through all the regular gear, then high end gear etc...
I buy what I WANT to afford, I don't purchase stuff that I can't bring myself to use. Go to any estate sale, no one values our stuff when we are gone.
I value the memories and experiences I get from using my gear. My most prized setup is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle spincast combo, that my son caught his first spotted bass on, using a neon green worm with a red Eagle Claw worm hook, in 32 degree weather.
Now he wants to use my Monoblocks. The dark side is strong, but I want to raise a Jedi, need to slow down the young Padawan. The Darkside is strong, but I have conquered it.
“Control, control, you must learn control!” – Yoda
My kids started with a Shimano Aldebaran BFS and Daiwa T3 Air ...
"fish with mindfulness : beware the darkside"