If you’re looking to buy a fly rod or reel for a reasonable price, consider buying used instead of from a store. There are plenty of places where you can find secondhand fly gear both online and offline.
You can often find excellent quality fly rods or reels for a fraction of the price if you were buying brand new. So if you’re after value for money but don’t know where to look, here’s our guide to buying used fly rods. Here are some great trusted retailers (and some of their clearance gear too):
- Trident Fly Fishing (Save up to 40%)
- eBay (Read tips below)
- Platte River Fly Shop – Clearance (Up to 40% off)
- Cabelas – Clearance (around 20% off)
- Tackle Direct – Clearance (10 – 50% off)
Why Buy Used?
You might feel a bit worried about buying used fly rods and gear. What if the product is damaged or just not worth the price when you get it home? But with a few helpful tips and an idea of what to look out for, you can find some excellent secondhand buys.
Buying a secondhand fly fishing rod is just like buying a used car. You can get a great bargain for a good quality rod, much cheaper than it would cost buying it brand new. If you’re tight on money, you can stretch your fly fishing budget much further by buying secondhand, even saving yourself hundreds of dollars. Avoid using a credit card to purchase fly gear – stay in your budget and buy used items instead!
You don’t really need the very latest rod to be released. You can still find top rods from just a year or two ago, but you won’t have to pay the premium price to buy new from a store. It makes sense to go for a slightly older rod that probably cost more in the first place, than the shiny new rod that’s just hit the fly store.
You can also find top fly reels, waders, fishing flies, and any sort of gear secondhand if you’re willing to look.
So we’ve established that buying used fly fishing rods and gear can be a great idea. But there are some things you need to look out for when buying secondhand fishing tackle.
Firstly, you need to search for the best used fly fishing rods and know where to look. But you also need to have a close look at any used fly fishing gear before you buy. You’ll need to email the seller, expect the condition, check for any damage, and make sure the items won’t break on your first trip out.
What to Look for
Here’s a simple checklist of what to look for when you’re on the search for a used rod in good condition:
Examine the Rod:
- Are there any scratches, damage, or faded coloring?
- Look closely at the decals
- Feel along the entire rod with your hands. This way, you’ll notice damage that you can’t see.
Examine the Handle:
- Take a close look at the reel seat and even install your fly reel – make sure it doesn’t twist when in place
- Check the metal end cap for scrapes
- Check the condition of the cork
Examine the Guides:
- Check for guides that look damaged, bent, or broken
- Put some pressure on the guides to see if they are sturdy
- Do the guides look even and straight?
- How do the wraps look? Are there any cracks in the finish?
Examine the Ferrules:
- Join the ferrules together and see how they fit. Does it feel loose or secure?
- Double-check for cracks
- Hold the rod in hand and move it around to see how it feels.
What to Ask When Buying Online
If you’re buying online, you probably won’t be able to examine the rod in person before buying. Here are the top questions to ask when you contact the seller:
- Ask for detailed pictures to avoid any nasty surprises. You can check that the seller is legit, as any real fly fisher will have no problem providing close-up pictures.
- Ask how the rod was used, and if it was used in saltwater. This is particularly important if it’s not a saltwater rod, as the harsh conditions may have damaged it or reduced its lifetime.
- Has the rod been repaired in the past? You want to know about any previous damage or breakages before you buy. You’ll also get an idea of the weak points and durability of the rod. Most importantly, who repaired the rod? Was it the manufacturer, or did he attempt the repair himself?
- Is the warranty card included (and will it cover you?). While not all warranties cover a second owner, some do, so it’s worth asking for the warranty card if possible.
- How much does shipping cost?
Where to Buy Used Fly Rods
Now you know what to look for, you’re probably wondering where to find these used rods. You can buy used rods online and offline.
When you shop online, you’ll have access to a broader range of sellers and products, but you can’t see them and test them out in person. Sometimes, you can’t even contact or email the seller to ask questions or negotiate the price.
If you’re looking for a used fly rod or reel offline, you’ll be limited to what’s featured in your local area. However, you have the advantage of seeing the items in real life, holding them, testing them, and checking properly for any defects or damage. It takes more time, but you’ll be sure you’re getting a fair price and quality products.
If you want to buy online, you can check out eBay and Amazon. eBay tends to have a wider range of items available, but you can also find used products on Amazon. In both cases, it’s essential that you check the seller rating and description carefully before adding to your cart. You’ll have more of an idea of whether the seller is reliable.
Another bonus of using eBay or Amazon is that they can back you up if anything goes wrong, and make sure the seller refunds you. You can even get refunds on the shipping cost if the seller is at fault!
The first place to check out is your local fly fishing store. The advantage of buying from a store is that you can get advice from experts, who will give you a fair price and some tips to help you find the right product, too. Plus, you don’t have to worry about shipping costs and times when you purchase from a local store.
Another great place to look is on Craigslist. You can narrow down your search to your local area and find some superb bargains. Just follow our checklist above to check the condition.
Facebook groups for local fly fishing groups are also a helpful resource. Many have a buy/sell thread where you can find used rods, reels, and more. And if you’re buying from a local angler, you can check out the goods in person, save on shipping, and maybe even find a new fishing buddy at the same time.
The Wrap Up
Buying a used fly rod or reel can be a great idea. You’ll save money, and you can get some top fly gear that you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. So, will you consider buying secondhand next time you’re looking for a new rod? Contact us in a comment or email to let us know! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any fly fishing articles, and remember to share if you found this article helpful!
Hey, I’m Ben, a fly fisherman for over 20 years and also an aspiring blogger. I’ve been into fly fishing since my graduation from spin fishing when I was 12 years old. I started flyfisherpro.com to help introduce as many people into this amazing sport. Tight lines everyone!
You can read more on our about page here.
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