Iíve heard the saying ďyou get what you pay forĒ. Iíve also heard that most fishing lures are designed to catch fisherman (and their money), not to catch fish. So when I walk through Bass Pro Shops, or browse a fishing tackle website, I wonder if I really need those $30 jerk baits, $500 rods, and $800 reels. Thatís a lot of money and I wonder if they are worth it.
Part of the answer has to do with your fishing style. Things like a rod that wonít break, good line and sharp hooks are important whether youíre bank fishing for stocker rainbows, or competing in the Bassmaster Classic. Other things are going to be a lot more important to a competitive fisherman than to a recreational angler.
When I look at rods, I mainly care about sensitivity, weight, and application-specific design. From experience, I know the rods I use now are much more sensitive than what I used to fish with. I can tell this by how many more strikes I feel and how well I can feel the bottom of a lake when Iím dragging a lure.
I am still amazed at how light rods are getting. When you are casting hundreds, or even a thousand times a day, for several days in a tournament, even a couple ounces is a big advantage. Itís interesting to note that weights are not always listed for rods. These are generally heavier rods that probably donít want to draw attention to their weight. The lowest priced rods I could find on Cabelaís website that list their weights are the St. Croix Premier series that, at about $110, weigh from 3.7 to 4.6 ounces.
Another important factor that affects the price of a rod is if they are designed for a specific application. For example, there are 25 different versions of the Legend Tournament Bass series in varying lengths, powers and actions designed for specific techniques and lures. This is important when your fishing becomes specialized and affects both the cost to the manufacturer and the value to an angler.
Have you ever noticed all the trademark symbols used to describe fishing reels? While Iím sure they refer to important features, they also make it hard to decide between one brand and another. I think that reels are one of the most important areas to buy quality. Bad reels can result in twisted or nested line, poor casting distance and drag that either locks up or fails - all of which can quickly ruin a fishing trip.
Like rods, reel weight is important, but itís not always a good indicator of price. For example, one company has two 7.4 ounce spinning reels Ė one costs $30 and the other is $330. Some of the other things affecting the price are what theyíre made out of (magnesium vs. graphite), maximum drag (7lbs vs. 4lbs) and number of ball bearings (8 vs. 4). Does all that explain a $300 price difference, though? Iím not sure, but I have fished with reels from $20 to $270 and I can definitely feel the difference in construction, smoothness and line management Ė all of which translate into confidence. Like most people, I canít afford all $330 or even $200 reels, but I do think that better reels cost more and I try to get the best I can afford.
Every angler needs sharp hooks. It doesnít matter how youíre fishing, or about your line, rod or reel Ė you wonít catch fish if you canít get the hook in them. Whether just buying inexpensive hooks to save money, or as stock hooks on a lure, dull, rust-prone and weak hooks are never a good thing.
It always seemed to me like there were a few brands of ďgoodĒ hooks and several that were not so good. The good hooks cost more, but since hooks are relatively inexpensive, paying a little more made sense. When I started seeing Lazer Trokar hooks, I was unsure, even with their claims of being the best, since they were even more expensive than the ďgoodĒ hooks. What I did like was, instead of just saying they were sharper, they put numbers to it and said their hooks took half as much time and 40 percent less pressure to penetrate. After I tried Trokar hooks, I decided that they give me confidence that Iím going to stick any fish that gets close, which makes them worth the extra cost to me.
The most interesting part of any trip to a tackle shop is looking at all of the new colors, designs and features that lure manufacturers claim are the secret to catching the most and biggest fish ever.
I remember when I got my first-ever Lucky Craft jerkbait. I had been looking at them in stores and online for months. The $20 price tag was too much for me, so I put it on my Christmas list. When I was finally brave enough to cast my $20 bait, it seemed like the best lure Iíd ever used. I now see there are a few more brands of hard baits in the $15-$20 range and even some up around $30.
Even though I really liked my Lucky Craft, and Iím sure some of the other expensive ones are really good, this is one area of fishing gear where Iíve decided that I donít have to spend top dollar. I do think that some of the cheaper brands should be avoided, because they often don't run well in water, are made poorly and don't usually have good designs and colors. Iíve found that a middle-priced brand like Strike King has everything I need Ė quality, good designs and a great selection. So even if Iím not fishing with the most expensive lures, I never feel that Iím at a disadvantage in catching fish.
Iím sure we would all love to be able to buy the most expensive items every time we shop for fishing gear, or anything else for that matter. But this isnít a reality for most of us (if this is your reality, though, please give me a call so you can set me up :-).
Fishing advertising is supposed to make us think we need to have the latest and greatest of everything. Sometimes, though, it just makes us think that none of it can be trusted. While dollars donít always equal quality, I do think that spending a little more when we can makes fishing more fun, relaxing and productive. Everybody has different fishing styles and budgets, so there isnít one rod or reel that is perfect for everyone, I just recommend that you always look for good deals on better equipment and splurge every once in a while on that special item that youíve had your eye on Ė or at least put it on your Christmas list.