With the modern technology in rod manufacturing today, I would venture that less than 1% of fishermen could tell the difference between a 1 piece, 2 piece, and 4 piece rod if they were blindfolded and could only use their tactile senses to evaluate how a rod cast. A 4 piece rod easily converts to a 2 piece rod, just don't take it completely apart.
Tom Jindra, please give us your expert opinion, not on what the market demands, (the customer is always right) but on the actual difference in casting, strength, breakage, ability to fight fish, etc on multi-piece rods, vs those with fewer components. I do not believe for one second that most of us can tell the difference.
We are in total agreement. Excluding the discount rods on the market and limiting the discussion to mainstream fly rod companies, I'm skeptical that many people could distinguish between a two-piece rod and a four-piece rod in a blind test. I'm confident that I could not.
Nor is breakage made worse by the number of ferrules. Maybe in a theoretical world, i.e. the chance for trouble automatically increases with the number of parts. But not in my actual experience.
I've had the good fortune to chase most everything from bream to steelhead, redfish to bonefish, bluefish to tarpon, all of it with four-piece rods at least since 1990. And yet, I've never had a fish break one of my rods. I've never even seen a fish break a rod or had a rod break on the water. Only twice have I broken a rod at the ferrule, and each time, the break was entirely my fault.
There was a time when multi-piece rods were clearly inferior to two-piece versions. The ferrules were stiff, they were fragile, they were heavy. But ferrule design has come a long way in the past 30 years or so.
That's not to say ferrules can never fail; anything made by man can fail. But most failures are caused by improper seating.
Most failures occur when the ferrule loosens, allowing the male section to put excessive pressure on the outer wall of the female section. If you have problems with the tip flying off your rod when you cast, you're a prime candidate for a busted rod.
What is the proper technique for seating a ferrule?
Position the two rod sections so that the guides on one are turned 90 degrees to the other. Now, turn the sections into alignment as you push them together. And don't be shy about pushing the sections together. If the ferrule pulls apart easily, you've done it wrong.
(And how do you separate the sections? Execute the process in reverse: As you pull the ferrule apart, turn the sections in the opposite direction as when you seated the ferrule.)
Not a part of your question, but worth mentioning just the same: Should you wax a ferrule?
In years past, I always encouraged people to use wax, but no more. Ferrule design and manufacturing tolerances have improved to the point where waxing accomplishes nothing (again, I'm limiting my comments to the mainstream rod companies). In fact, TFO specifically recommends against waxing, warning that the wax can accumulate grit, which can ultimately damage the ferrule. So dig that old candle out of your tackle bag, and throw it away. You don't need it anymore.
One more point:
If you prefer a two-piece rod, good for you. I'm not offended in the least, and I encourage you to check out Temple Fork's Signature Series. There are some great rods and great values in that series. Likewise with the Bug Launcher rods.
But I struggle to understand comments that the manufacturers and dealers are somehow pulling a fast one on consumers by pushing multi-piece rods. I'm a tackle rep, and I try very hard to be honest with the public. You might not agree with me, but that's hardly grounds for suggesting I'm somehow trying to hoodwink you.
And Larry, who created and pays for this website, is a tackle dealer. You can say many things about Larry, as in he's crazy or he doesn't buy enough tackle from me. But nobody should question his integrity. Yes, like me, Larry wants to make a sale. It's sort of the model on which our economy is based. But not just any sale. He also wants the customer to go away happy, in hopes that the customer will keep coming back. Nobody is trying to pull a fast one, at least nobody among the companies I represent.
The reason multi-piece fly rods outnumber two-piece rods is the market. If consumers make known that they prefer two-piece rods, the manufacturers will fall all over themselves to supply those rods. But the consumer has spoken, and he has spoken in favor of portability.