used fishing gear
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How to Shop for Used Fishing Gear

Among outdoorsmen, there is probably no sect that enjoys gear more than fishermen. There are so many different items and combinations of said items to buy. In order to even get a bait in the water, you are utilizing at least four different pieces of gear (rod, reel, line, and bait) and that's not including any other terminal tackle. That's a lot of gear! And many fishermen, including myself, like to buy gear constantly. We even rationalize our buying habits by saying "I need something for every situation." The problem with this addiction is that fishing gear, most notably new fishing gear, can get really expensive in a hurry. 

There is a solution to this expensive problem and that is to buy a few used pieces of gear. When most think of "used" fishing gear, we think of the giant, seized-up baitcasters you find piled on the shelf at the local flea market. This isn't necessarily what I'm referring to, even though you can find some absolute gems at these places. I'm talking about the gear you find that was owned by a serious fisherman—something that has been preserved well. Where do you find these items? Try looking at private sales like yard sales or estate sales. Local tackle shops and online marketplaces are not bad options either. The best options are places where you can pick up and hold the gear for a personal inspection. 

Remember that a lot of the items you find will be heavily discounted because of some fault, but sometimes people are just parting with them because they want to upgrade. I hear stories all the time of people finding $150 reels that are just a couple years at yard sales for $25. You just have to keep your eyes open. Now let's figure out what items we should look for and how we should determine if they are worth buying.

Don't Discount Old or Broken Gear

You should never bypass an item that is mildly faulty, broken, or has a little honest wear on it. These problems can often be solved. Have you ever picked up a reel at a yard sale and feel like you are reeling through sand? This could easily be solved by breaking the reel down and air hosing the foreign material out of it. Finally use a little bit of reel oil (can be purchased at any outdoor supplier for less than $10) to make it glide like new again. And, for those nice rods with broken or missing eyes, just purchase an eye repair kit and you're good to go. It's obviously ideal to find a properly built or working piece of gear but sometimes you can get stuff for crazy cheap or even free if you are willing to give it a little TLC.


used fishing gear

Getty: roman023

There plenty of great used bass and crappie rods floating around out there, but what makes a used rod a good one? Obviously you don't want any unfixable defects, like cracks in the fiberglass or graphite. Also, pay attention to warping or misshaping from being stored under extreme tension. If you can find a rod that passes these tests you might have just found the newest addition to your rod locker.

Brands to search for: 

  • Abu Garcia
  • Lews
  • Ugly Stick
  • Bass Pro Shops


used fishing gear

Getty: smiltena

I love old reels because they remind me of my childhood fishing gear. My first baitcaster was a round Abu Garcia. I have since moved on to low-profile reels and some other brands but I would love to know where that reel ended up. I honestly believe that it is still a good reel to this day and is probably making some fisherman really happy somewhere. Like rods, a good used reel is one free of defects. Check the structural integrity of the reel and make sure no parts are missing. Also don't forget that reel oil is liquid magic and can bring a lot of reels back to their previous glory. 

Brands to search for: 

  • Abu Garcia
  • Kastking
  • Quantum
  • Daiwa 
  • Shimano 


This is where it gets easy to nerd out. Old baits are awesome and are just as effective today as there were when they were first introduced. Also used lures are one of the cheapest pieces of fishing gear that you can find with many as cheap as a quarter. Because they are so cheap there is almost no risk involved with purchasing them. If you tie one on and the bait is dysfunctional, just throw it in the trash with nothing lost. I have no tips here, just buy whatever and however many you want and try them out. There are so many great used baits out there waiting for you to take a chance on.

Brands to search for: 

  • Rapala
  • Norman
  • Strike King
  • Bandit
  • Booyah 

Some call it old, I call it vintage. There is so much good used fishing gear out there that it often doesn't make sense to buy anything new. All you have to do is look.