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Should You Buy Used Fly Fishing Rods?

Yes! Buying used fly fishing rods can be a great buy.

Some people want the latest product and the latest technology. I am guilty of this myself at times. Other people also may not have had the success they thought they would have, or they just never made the time investment needed to improve their casting skills.

For whatever reason, the large number of used fly fishing rods on the market today can give a knowledgeable buyer a very good deal. If the rod is checked over carefully it could prove to be your best fly rod.

This checklist can help you find that great deal.

Your Checklist

Inspect the Handle:

  • With moderate pressure, see if you can twist the rod where it meets the cork handle.
  • Install your reel to make sure it fits well in the rod's seat. The reel should not twist in the handle.
  • Do the threads on the handle show any damage? Move the lock nuts back and forth over the threads.
  • If the rod has a metal end cap make sure it does not have dents or scratches.
  • Is the cork dark and soiled? A clean look to the cork does not necessary mean it hasn’t been used a lot; it can be cleaned.

Inspect the Rod:

  • Look for blemishes, scratches and consistent color in the rod. Minor scratches are all right as long as they are not too deep.
  • Feel for impact damage. Split shot or heavy flies can hit the rod during casting and damage the rod. Run your fingers over the rod feeling for anything different. You often can feel something that you can’t see. Remember that these rods will act like glass; impact damage during one outing will lead to a total breaking of the rod on a later fishing trip.

Inspect Each of the Guides:

  • Look for bent, loose or broken guides. Running a piece of cotton through and around the guides will reveal most defects that you may not see.
  • Apply a little pressure to the guides to see if they are loose.
  • Are the guides straight? Run a line through all the guides. Are they spaced evenly?
  • If the guides have inserts make sure they are not cracked.
  • Inspect the wrappings around the guides. Is the finish on the wraps cracked or damaged?
  • Carefully inspect the wrappings. Quality rods have thread wraps where cheap rods are taped and pinstriped to look like thread. Also look for a neat and clean epoxy coating.

Inspect the Ferrules (where the rod sections join):

  • Visually check for any cracks. The condition of the hollow end is especially important.
  • Insert the male and female ends together and make sure the joint is not loose.
  • Give the rod a shake to make sure it feels right.

Other Questions to Ask or Think About:

  • Does it come with the original case? Some rods did not come with cases.
  • Can you cast it before you buy it?

Tips When Buying Used Fly Fishing Rods on eBay

  • Ask the seller how the rod was used. Was it used in fresh and saltwater? The rod may not have been designed for saltwater. The steel parts could be corroded.
  • Ask if there have been any repairs made to the rod. Did the factory make them?
  • Ask for detailed pictures.
  • Ask about the condition of the rod using the checklist above.
  • The seller’s answers to your questions could give you a good idea whether the seller knows what they are talking about or if they are hiding something.
  • Do they have the warranty card? Most won’t but it is worth asking.

The Only Downside

The only downside is that most manufacturers do not honor their warranty to anyone other than the original owner. This is not a problem for me, especially if I just paid less than half the retail price.

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