2 pc rods and combos
Wow, those are mighty heavy rods. 'Course, them Euros are a different breed. As Steve Martin has observed, in France, for example, it's as if they speak an entirely different language!
Seriously, though, I've absolutely zero experience with the European rods you're referring to, ditto, I was referring to the $19.99 specials that are, not surprisingly, junk.
And FWIW, while I've read about other European passions, like their love of carp fishing, I can't say that I have developed any burning desire to try it.
That said, you really cannot make a comparison with a fly rod, they are built/designed for totally different aspects. The fly rods, unlike, say a bass rod, are not designed to be sensitive, they are designed to manage the fly line, and the fish. A $100-150 bass rod is waaaaaaaay more sensitive than even a 1K fly rod. The rods are fished quite differently. Likewise, no matter how sensitive the bass rod is, it would be useless with a fly reel attached.
Salmon rods are a much better comparison...and I do agree that high end 2 piece rods can be awesome...I have a Lami I wouldn't sell for anything. That said, even that spectacular rod would be useless for something like fishing soft plastics for light biting bass. I use mine for bass applications regularly, but not ever for sensitivity fishing, like plastics or jigs.
While many people would not notice the difference between a 1 and 2 piece avid for instance, those that really fish a lot and have a lot of experience will notice it immediately. 10%ers I am talking about...as in 10% of fishermen catch 90% of the fish.....the more skilled you are, the more stark the difference is to that individual. For the average guy, little difference, for others...well, its night and day. I've taken the "pepsi challenge" on this one many times...I can always tell the 2 piece.
As a practical matter, there's a limit to ho long a one-piece can be. The longest I have is 7'6"; much beyond that, and transport becomes something of an issue, even for those who have 8' + rod lockers.
There are generally two solutions to the long-rod dilemma; two-piece rods, or telescoping-handle rods. Again, speaking for myself, I have a 9' two-piece rod, and a 7'6" telescoping handle rod, both of which are very good quality rods.
To ditto's point, the days of metal-to-metal ferrules are well behind us (thankfully!), and today's graphite-based rods, and their graphite ferrules, minimize the impact of having a joint somewhere in the rod's blank. It's indeed possible to produce a very fine multi-piece fishing rod; in fact, I have a 7' Loomis three-piece travel rod (MSRP: $370) that's one of my faves, and as any fly-fisherman knows, there are any number of very high quality ((and expensive!) multi-piece fly rods on the market; nobody gets concerned about the fact that those rods have ferrules.
Telescoping handle rods are fairly commonly seen in the trolling rod market. The rods typically telescope into/out of the rod handle, so the user can save a foot or so of length for stowage.
The gnarly cheapo telescoping rods I'd referred to in an earlier post aren't worth bothering with, IMO, the only thing they seem to offer is compact size when collapsed, but when extended, they have no power or sensitivity whatsoever.
These rods are specifically designed so that they collapse to fit in standard rod lockers, which most flippin' sticks don't at 7'6"-8'.
You all are right that the standard, basic cheapo telescopic rods are indeed junk...as are most 2 piece....but there are some made quite well. I also have a few 2-piece salmon rods that are excellent (and quite expensive), but again these are technique/species specific rods, not your general run of the mill cheapo.
Bottom line with rods...you get what you pay for. If your budget is $60, you will be hard pressed to find anything of real quality.
OTOH, to BM12's point, you should be able to find a reasonably good house-branded travel rod in your price range, just gotta check 'em out and have reasonable expectations.