Let’s start by talking about where we buy our tackle and gear. We all know of a small bait and tackle shop that is the go to spot for the local intel, but a good portion of us don’t buy a lot of gear from them. Sure we buy some bait, maybe some flies or lures, but we normally save the big purchases like rods and reels for the big box stores to save a few dollars. The problem is the little shop is going extinct, we have all seen the number of them declining but we still don’t change our ways. I’ve heard the excuses and I’ve even used them; they don’t have what I want, I can save a few bucks, it’s easier to order it online. Well, to set the record straight, most shops will gladly special order in almost anything you want and those few extra bucks go to pay for the sponsor sign on the fence for the local Little League, or to help his kid go to college. If you go down and talk to the guy that you’re buying your gear from you could learn something to help you catch some more fish. Additionally, if something breaks or stops working and you’re a regular there he just might get you back on the water quicker. Most importantly you are helping your community as your money stays local.
Looking at where your tackle is made can be a little more difficult. The majority of stuff you find in big box stores and even the local tackle shops will be made overseas by people who have never used it and don’t know what it is for. If you pay attention and do some research you will find some American made tackle and it is normally worth the extra money you will pay for it. There is another way to get quality American tackle, thanks to the relatively low cost of internet marketing and the ability to easily set up web stores. There has been an explosion of small specialty tackle manufactures online. Hand poured plastics and jig heads, wooden plugs, hand wrapped rods as well as other gear have been around for years but now the little guy working in his garage can sell nationwide with little more cost than word of mouth advertising. This has allowed a lot of innovation as the guys that are making this gear are pushing the limits and making the ideas that worked for them out on the water, available to you. When you find a product you like and it works for you, take it down the local tackle shop and tell them about it, better yet bring a picture, chances are they will bring a few in and if they work for others too you won’t have to place that internet order anymore.
Now I’m not saying all large companies are bad, but I do believe in helping the little guy out. They are the ones that lead the innovation and build our communities and nation. I also like to know my money is staying in the USA and creating jobs here. I’m happy I can say that the companies that I am associated with; Jackson Kayaks, Yak Daddy Sliders, Overboard Fishing Rods, and Rat-L-Trap Lures are American made.
I would like to thank all the people out there who work late into the night and on weekends trying to build their dream. And in the rush of this holiday season and the madness that is “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and all the other crazy shopping days the entire year, take a look at these companies as well as the tackle shops in your hometown. You never know maybe a bunch of anglers can make a difference and you also might help somebody realize their dream.