We are often asked about acquiring the 'right' fishing rod for float tube use. The answer to this is similar to the ' how long is a piece of string' question! One universal answer however is that whatever make you choose, the normal fly rod would be between nine and ten feet long in old measurements. (I taught metric measurements from 1968 but still think in feet and inches - perhaps I haven't quite succumbed to Franco/German domination yet).
The selection of a fishing rod is down to what the individual fisherman is comfortable with using, and how much he is prepared to spend on a rod, which perhaps stands a slightly higher chance of being damaged when used in conjunction with a float tube. Float tubes tend to travel backwards and often in a windy situation, so it is all too easy to inadvertantly run you 'second rod' into bushes, banks or even another float tuber. Some of us do take to the water with Sage fly rods, and others with the cheapest 'wand' they can find. A line weight of between #5 and #8 would be normal with most of us edging towards the lighter line. Long casting is not essential in most situations on the water but it is occasionally useful.
I can tell you of a couple of rods which on the surface of it look good value to buy, but which in reality will undoubtedly disappoint after a short times use. Fladen make some very attractive fly rods called 'Vantage', these are well put together and look as though they will do the job. They will cast a line - albeit a little softly but their real problem comes when you try and get a lively 2lb fish into a pan net - this is not easily achieved because the rod is too soft in its action. They can be picked up for as little as £10 at game fairs. The other rod I would advise against is the 'Thor' marketed via Ebay by Tacklebargains, Swindon. I bought one of these to try. It is not as powerful as advertised and if my example is typical, is not well made. The butt section would not join to the section above it until 'fitted' with the application of some fine wet and dry paper. My fairly well informed description of the casting action would be 'creaky and floppy'. This 10 foot #5/6 rod would not cast a flyline as far as several 9 foot rods I have of similar rating. Now in fairness to Andrew Train and his company I know other members have bought and used Flextec and Nielsen rods from him and had no real problems. Indeed I own a 10 foot #6 flextec kinetic, which apart from the vile puce colour is actually very good. I did break the tip on a Neilsen third cast but it was replaced without quibble. I know others who have had similar experiences with the other Flextec rods in the range; when they stay intact they are very good. You do have to be aware that exchanges with this company can only be done via postage or Courier at around £10 a time - their shop is closed and the warehouse cannot take visitors on H&S grounds apparently. I would also avoid the Sumo rods marketed by this company.
A rod which very much looks to be good value for just under £50 would be the Shakespeare Agility. Ben Bangham rates these and sells them in his Experience Fishing shop in Newbury, alongside Sonik and Greys rods.
A good answer to the initial question would be to buy a rod such as an Orvis Clearwater 2 at around £140. This rod has a 25 year gurantee and Orvis have always been very good at replacing or repairing broken equipment. At worst you may have to pay £25 for replacement sections. I believe Flextec charge £30 plus the carriage for replacing a section and Greys £40 per part, plus carriage. Wychwood make some very nice rods for just under £100, as indeed do many other people. Virtually all blanks and assembled rods will be made in China or Korea no matter what name is on the butt section. (Steve Parton wrote a seriously well informed paper on this subject and on why a rod costs what it does). Snowbee Diamond rods are also very good, and as a BFTA Member you can get 10% discount on these - it is also worth keeping an eye out for their occasional clearance sales, because some good bargains can be picked up if you are quick enough. Airflo make usable rods but once again look out for sales prices rather than the full price asked, (and don't be fooled by the RRP price in adverts - you would be an idiot to pay it)!
At the end of the day what rod you choose is down to your own preference. My ideal these days is a 9' 6" #5/6 tip flex rod with a fairly fast action - the problem is finding somebody who makes them!