This is an interesting discussion that would be well suited to have over beers sometime this spring. On the one hand I have the budget busting devil team Sency on one shoulder pointing out how a great rod or reel will be a family heirloom. On the other hand I really enjoy finding treasures. Especially older rods and reels that may be forgotten but have a great action or great design and can be had for a bargain if you shop around. (Metal body Bantam mag 251’s and older fenwick or lamiglas glass rods for example) As my budget has increased over the years I appreciate the action of the sage/loomis and islanders more and while I Don’t think it catches any more fish to fish that way the fight on smooth good equipment really does feel better to me, but I think as my kids get into Fishing it will be back to the ugly sticks and abu Garcia 6501’s for salmon for awhile for less stress. So while I agree with the fish what you can afford crowd I also think you can calculate in how less often you need to replace quality equipment and that may help justify spending a bit more for made in America or just quality made stuff in general.