I Dunno, Never Have Seen The "New" Lep Sticks
I have the original - and believe me, for less than $15, the guides are plenty good enough on the older models, which by the way are built on a graphite composite blank and therefore are even more "Braid-friendly" than the new models. At least theoretically.
On my rod, what I did was to swap the tip out for a Fuji BULT and turned down the end corks of the rear grip and then epoxied on a Fuji mushroom cap and I gotta tell ya, that rod looks like a $100+ piece, done up that way.
Fishes like one too.
To be honest, its just a wee bit tip-heavy without a reel on it, but put a Newell 220 or Shim-"Oh No!" TR100G in that reel seat and she balances right out.
It has become my "Go-to" Seabass rod for drifting Cholera in the Spring, and trust me on this, I've got $500 custom rods up in my rocket launcher that I walk past to pick up my trusty BPS P.O.S . . . Says something, I would think.
It also does yeoman's service doubling up as a loaner rod for tog ionshore and off and also as my loaner bass chummer in the bay and Inlet.
I guess the original guides are some bulk-purchased Chinese or Korean specials, but they've taken all the bouncing around that me and my crew can hand them and they've come through with flying colors. No failures in two seasons.
In fact, based on that excellent service I'm in the process of putting a new Loomis MU785 muskie blank together for back-bay bass chumming and after extensive discussions with my blank vendor D&E Rods in Battle Creek, Wa., I went ahead and walked past my original guide choices in both PacBay and Fuji and ordered up a set of brand-new-to-this-country Korean-made S.I.C. guides with Titanium Carbide-coated frames and a matching PacBay S.I.C. flanged tiptop - all for the price of what Fuji or PacBay gets for run-of-the-mill Hardalloys.
If anyone is interested in the details and the near-unreal discount that D&E is offering on these and other discontinued Loomis blanks - let me know and I'll post the details.
Believe me, its a great deal I'm getting.
And I would think that the "Lep Stick" issue has given me some small measure of credibility in the "Budget tackle that works" catagory.