Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where Do I Even Begin? (part II)

In my previous entry, possible scenarios to help in acquiring some free fishing gear were discussed.  Getting free gear is good, however, most people will probably take a different route.  If you don’t care how old your equipment is, yard sales (or in Milwaukee, rummage sales) and thrift stores are  good places to start, and there is probably some good gear out there if you're persistent.
You may find good gear at a yard sale, especially in a town known for fishing.  Guys upgrade their gear and just need to make room.  Look for an Ugly Stik brand.  Ugly Stiks can take just about any punishment you can give them.  You may even find a tackle box full of lures for around $5.00, buy it!  Even if the lures aren’t new or current looking, they can be fun to experiment with.  Some of those old wooden lures are collectors items!  My dad probably still has wooden musky lures he inherited from his grandpa.  These things had teeth marks in them from musky and pike striking them!  Now, just about everything is plastic; nothing tells the history of the life of a lure like teeth marks in balsa.

garbage cans full of fishing rods
Time to make room for new gear.

Thrift stores such as Goodwill will sometimes have many rods.  So many in fact, that it may be overwhelming trying to find one worth buying.  They must get nice rods in occasionally, but they probably go quick, be persistent.

A good fishing rod is probably expected to outlive the original owner, so an estate sale rod could be an amazing find!  
Another good place to look for gear is at a flea market.  Haggling is expected, the price they put on the label is just a suggestion. Offer half the price, compromise at 3/4.  If there are two rods for $7.00 each, offer $10.00 for both. Tell them you liked another one you saw for less money several aisles down. Never pay what the tag says at a flea market.  You probably shouldn’t pay much more than $5.00 for a Goodwill/rummage/flea market rod, especially if it doesn’t come with a reel. And my personal opinion, never use a spincasting reel, sometimes called a closed face reel.  If it is a Zebco brand, pass it up.

shiny closed face reel
If you’re looking for a fly rod, things are a little different. These things are considerably more expensive, even for a cheap one.  So if you come across a fly rod that seems to be intact with a reel for $50.00, go ahead and try to haggle down to $40.00.  If the seller won’t budge, it’s your call, buy it or walk.  My suggestion is to pay close attention to the reel. If it looks like it is metal, it is probably a rather expensive reel. Consider buying the rod.  Plastic reels are of course, cheaper, so you might pass on it.  
In the Cabela’s near Milwaukee, they have the “Bargain Cave,” so I assume they all do.  There is always tons of fishing gear in there, but most of it is broken.  However, I’m pretty sure that a person who is persistent enough could come out of there with a nice year old rod with hardly a scratch.  The carry case for my fly rod came out of the bargain cave, and I use it all the time.  It has even been used as a weapon once to fend off some idiots in a van.
These are just some examples of practical ways to get cheap gear.  There are online options too.  You could come across good gear on Ebay or Craigslist, and if a brand or model is given, do a google search and read user reviews to learn more about what you're looking at.  That way you aren’t just making a shot in the dark when picking one rod out of a million at the local Salvation Army. Good luck out there!

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