By: Jackie Holbrook
There’s the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” But there should be a third part, “Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed an expensive addiction.”
Fishing can quickly turn from a harmless hobby into an expensive pursuit. Between flies, tackle, licenses, clothing, rods and reels, and let’s not forget boats, fishing can eat up your paycheck faster than a fish hitting a dry fly. But it doesn’t have to. There are many ways to enjoy angling without breaking the bank.
Here’s your guide to buying fishing gear on a budget.
Buy Multi-functional Fishing Clothes
There’s no shortage of clothing companies marketing fishing-specific clothing. Fishing media makes you think you’ll catch more fish if you’re outfitted in the latest and greatest technical wear. But the bottom line is that you just need your clothing to be comfortable and functional for the weather. Take a look at your wardrobe. You likely already own clothes that will work on the water.
If you choose to add to your closet, stretch your dollars by selecting multi-functional pieces. If you’re fishing in warm weather, you’ll need clothing with sun protection, labeled UPF. This clothing protects your skin during long days on the water. If you need to buy new UPF-rated clothing it will also come in handy for hiking, biking, a day at the beach and even comfortable everyday wear. Quick-dry clothing is great for wet wading and hot days on the water. It’s also useful for sweaty workouts.
The right clothing is essential to fishing in cold climates. If you do any sort of outdoor recreating in the winter, you already have what you need like baselayers, wool socks, and a warm hat and gloves. For ice fishing, wear warm bibs and winter boots. For more tips check out, “7 Ways to Stay Warm Fishing This Winter.”
Shop Seasonal Sales
Clothing companies often put last season’s clothing on sale to make room for next season’s shipments. Luckily, fishing isn’t about fashion so it’s OK to wear last season’s styles on the river. The fish won’t know. In the spring, winter clothing typically goes on sale. In the fall, you’ll often find summer clothes marked down. It’s kind of a bummer to pick up something you’re excited to wear and have to wait a few months but it’s a great way to stretch your dollars.
There’s a booming market for secondhand outdoor gear and clothing. This is great for the environment and your wallet. Savvy shoppers can pick up items at very discounted rates. I once found a new-with-tags Patagonia hip pouch at an outdoor consignment shop for a fraction of the price.
There are lots of places to shop second-hand. Many cities have outdoor-specific consignment shops. You can also shop through online apps like eBay, Poshmark, Geartrade and Facebook Marketplace. Some social media groups cater to swapping and selling outdoor gear. Some popular brands even sell used items like REI, Patagonia and The North Face.
Make a “Gear Wish List”
I have a “Gear Wish List” saved in the notes on my cellphone. This is partially because if I don’t write things down immediately, I forget. However, it comes in handy for many reasons. First, I’ll often see something out on the water or encounter an experience that will make me realize I would like to add something to my fishing setup. Secondly, this list keeps me on track. It allows me to keep an eye out for what I need on used sites and when shopping sales. Finally, when family and friends ask for gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, I can refer to this list.
Borrow Instead of Buy
If you only fish a few times a year, you can probably get away with renting or borrowing equipment. Local fly shops usually have rods, waders and boots to rent. Places also rent kayaks, float tubes and boats. If you have a family member or friend who is addicted to fishing, they probably have more than enough gear to loan out if you go fishing together. Just be sure to respect the gear and care for it like it’s your own.
Make the Big Buys Count
When you do make a big buy, do your research and make it count. Many companies offer amazing warranties on everything from rods to waders. Rods get nicked, stepped on and crunched in cars. If you buy from a company that has a good warranty policy the crunch will sting a little less. Polarized sunglasses get chips and scratches. A good company will fix or replace them.