I have one 400$ swimbait combo that, just like you stated Tom, it doesn't catch more fish than a cheaper combo. All of the professionals and many of the staff members get free gear to test from sponsors, or test things to write an article.
A prime reason I don't need more than one expensive combo is this story write here.
I'm mad write now because I broke a 50$ rod, took the reel off, and put it on a friends rod (he got a Castaway for 5$ at a garage sale), and now I can't find the reel or the rod. I thought I left at his house, but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe when I clean the garage I'll find it. Or not.