I think so far Josh is the only one leading Steve in the direction he asked to be led.
For my money, there are worthwhile differences in USA-made rod blanks from St. Croix and Lamiglas, and I guess we'll let Loomis in here, even though they're now owned by Shimano. There are also differences in hardware and finishing quality on a hand-finished or custom rod.
I'm sure in bay casting and spin fishing, I've carried over my implicit knowledge of fly rod tapers, going back 100 years of cane rod trial, inspiration and epiphany - and even worse, supported by empirical tensor analysis and mechanics of continuous media, which always gets the "feeley" guys on fly rod boards up in arms. http://fiberglassflyrodders.com/forum/v ... 33#p359674
There are in fact perfect rods, but they're only perfect for their specific niches. Certainly in fly rods, making one rod to do all things ends up with a rod that's half-assed at everything. For this reason, every rod choice ends up being a compromise, weighted toward your intended use.
No one has taken the specialized fishing approach farther than the Japanese, which is a positive thing to say about their rod blanks. I have a couple of Japanese XUL rockfish rods (7-1/2' and 7'9") designed to throw fly-weight lures in the salt and still land inshore-size fish. This rod is rated to throw 0.5g (1/64th oz), fish 2-8-lb test, and the graphite weave on the butt section lets you stop and turn powerful fish.
I got my perfect distance-casting inshore fly rod, blank hand-rolled on order from S-glass in Japan, though even that rod is in a gang of mates that work better (or stow better) in certain situations, e.g., sitting in a kayak, or fast-accurate delivery (big specs in skinny water).