Kevin responded: "I have benchmark rods that I compare everything else to. If the "new stick of the week" does not have the same sweet feeling I can usually tell pretty quick."
I would call that "Reliable and Predictable Benchmark Rod response, when I try/use it." If a new rod doesn't have that Reliable and Predictable Response in a specific situation, with a known line/leader/fly, I really don't want to spend the time trying to adapt to it. At the age of 66, I don't want to waste my time adapting to a rod, when I have rods that work in a specific situation with no hassle.
A new and younger friend came up with a interesting and excellent word to describe the interaction between a good spey rod and the caster. The rod is "Intuitive", you just sense what it can do and can't do in specific situations if a line works or won't work. The bad rod for me is just bad and I never learn what do with it. I either give it to my son or sell it. He can cast anything.
Below is a list of Sage rods owned and no longer owned or borrowed and returned. Some are benchmark rods and others were dogs in my hands:
7136 Great greased line rod with MS 6/7 floating. It is worthless in wind and with tips in deep fast water. Is fun to cast the Skagit 450 with. It is a benchmark rod for grease line fishing.
7141 A workhorse rod that can cast every 7/8 line I own from WC to MS to Grandspeys. It is not a fun rod to cast in fresh water, however, if I screw up, I can learn how to adapt. It is a blast on the surf with one handed lines, and I can't wait to try Rio
's new Outbound lines with it. It does a good job with the Skagit 550 and can heave about any sinking tip I or Bob Pauli own. It is not a fun rod to cast with the exception of surf casting. It is a tremendous back up rod. I call it my 7 weight beast on heavy steroids.
9140 I have tried to use my son's Brownie version, and it doesn't work for me.
10151, The rod and I never fit. My son, now has it for surf casting and really likes it. His benchmark Spey rod is the 9140. and he and the 9140 are very adaptive and intuitive.
6126-3. My favorite summer/ fall rod. It does a great job with the MS7/8 with tips until high winds come up. It lets me know really quick in high wind to go to the WC 678 with the upgrade. It does great with floating tips, sinking tips and tips with compensators. The Skagit 450 is a pleasure to cast with the 6126 and will probably replace most WC and MS sinking tip use. A true benchmark rod or me. Like my younger friend, the 6126 is an intuitive rod for me. He loves his new 6126.
TCR 9129-3 I was the high bidder for this great line this spring. It will become my main winter stick with the 7141 as the back up. It does a great job of casting the Jet Stream 65' head 9/10. Bob Pauli and I tried this rod with a Skagit 650, and basically every sinking tip Rio
has made and our various T14. It handled every tip and Bob was endangering the flora and fauna on the other side of the river with its tips. The river was very high and fast that day. Yet with the Skagit 650, as noted it handled every tip. It would be a great surf rod, but it is too big for what is in the surf in N Ca.. If my newly torn bicep heals, I will try it in the Ca rivers this summer and fall with the King Salmon. It will probably become a benchmark rod for me.
The last two benchmarks are not Sage nor true spey rods. They are Meiser's two handed switch rods, 10' 6".
5/6 Switch Rod is great for light fly work and nymphing small to medium streams. It will cast any one handed line from 5 to 7 weight. Rio
's 6 weight Nymph line is great. How I can't do is a decent spey cast with it with Rio
's 5/6 WC Spey line. It is a fun casting and catching fish rod.
7/8 I can't really find a place in rivers and streams for this rod. I will try it this summer for the smaller river Stripers we have in the summer.
9/10 Switch Rod is my standard for fishing for Stripers from a boat in N California with the Rio
350 Grain DC Striper line. It will put a heavy fly out about as far as my son the Cro Mag can with a 9 or 10 wt one handed beast with shooting heads. The two handed grips bring good size stripers into the boat quickly and line them up for an easy grab/release with my Boga Grip. It is my benchmark for the shorter two handed not really spey rods to fish from a boat or a pier.
I'm sure that similiar lists can be made for Loomis, CND, T&T, Winston and other rods which board members rely on, based on their experiences.