Once you go to a fishery a time or two, you get a pretty good idea of what you’re going to need. Now, I love local tackle shops as much as anyone and I do think we should support them, but some have been known to do a little price gouging. And it only takes one tough day on the water to find yourself in there buying up a couple hundred bucks worth of whatever anyone says they’re biting.
Furthermore, having spare props, extra oil and whatever else you might need before you leave the house is critical to keep from having to pay the 50% markup/convenience fee that you’ll run into if you get in a jam. You may end up having to buy a couple packs of soft plastics here and there, but at least you won’t be seriously considering a second mortgage by the time you get home.
Bass Fishing on a Budget: Equipment
Companies know there are two sets of consumers out there. One consumer is looking for the capabilities of high end products, but can’t afford them. And one consumer will pay whatever price to have the latest and greatest products.
So, companies cater to both customers.
Case in point, Lowrance offers a lineup of graphs called the Elite Ti2 which have traditional Chirp sonar, SideScan, DownScan, touch screen and are linkable through the NEMA network so you can share waypoints. Tell me now, what more do you really need? And the best part, an Elite Ti2 12 is $1,000 cheaper than Lowrance’s new HDS 12 LIVE. That’s $2,999.99 versus $1,999.99. Both have the new built in C-Map and both are Genesis LIVE compatible.
I ran two of the first generation Elite Ti 9 units for a year and absolutely loved them. Very responsive and fantastic units. The 9” display is really where you see these graphs become even more affordable at $924.97 for the first generation units that are now on clearance and $999 for the Elite Ti2 in a 9” display. Think about it, if you go from the HDS 12 to an Elite 9 Ti2, you can have all the same meaningful capabilities with a 3” smaller display for $2,000 less. Allow me to reiterate, you can buy three of the Elite Ti2 9” units for the price of one HDS 12 LIVE.
And Lowrance is not alone in this. Humminbird has similar options with their Helix lineup which is much more affordable than their Solix series but also very capable according to the product descriptions and reviews I’ve seen. The same can be said for Power-Pole, offering their Sportsman Series for approximately $700 cheaper per Pole than their Blade Series. Both products perform the same fundamental task. They swiftly and silently secure your boat in shallow water.
Thankfully, there’s also an even cheaper option for anglers on a budget.
Thanks to ANGLR’s free mobile and web application, anglers who can’t break the bank for their electronics. I can mark catches and waypoints as well as track all of the water and weather conditions seamlessly while I practice and fish. Afterwards, I can analyze all of that data to find patterns and trends!
Bass Fishing on a Budget: Tackle
When it comes to rods, reels, lures, fishing line and other tackle, there’s a wide range of price points to pick from. There are certainly a few high end products that are worth the price tag and then there are cheaply made products that are much more likely to fail. But the price point doesn’t always correlate to the quality.
Some companies garner selling power from their brand names much like Nike would versus a lesser known shoe company.
So you have to be careful when trying to find a product within your budget that will still get the job done. That’s the sweet spot in the spectrum I like to call ‘plenty good enough’.
Bass Fishing on a Budget: Rods
A great example of this is the fishing rod and reel market. There’s zero chance that you could ever convince me that there’s a bass fishing rod or reel worth $700 alone, though there are rods and reels out there at that price point. That being said, I obviously can’t head out to fish competitively with a cane pole.
But with a little smart shopping, you can build a solid arsenal on a budget.
The rod series that I use the most now is Fitzgerald Fishing’s entry level rod, the Vursa Series. Notice I didn’t say ‘Fitzgerald’s cheap rod series’. Because they’re not cheaply made rods. They’re built with quality components but priced at a reasonable price of $129.99. In the interest of full disclosure, I can buy these rods at a discount from Fitzgerald Fishing. But I could also buy their higher end rods at that same discount, some of which I do for reasons I’ll share shortly. But by and large, my rod box is filled with Vursas.
And I’m sure there are other rod series from other companies just like the Vursa Series that are quality rods at a reasonable price point. But these are the ones I use because they’re rods I’ve developed a lot of confidence in. They’re strong, light and come in a serviceable variety of lengths and powers to fit most techniques. As I previously stated, I do have a few rods from some of Fitzgerald’s higher end lineups like their 7’10” Ledge Rod for big baits and A-Rigs and their 7’8” Big Jig/Heavy Mat Flippin’ rod for punching. Why? Because there’s nothing in the Vursa lineup that can do these things for me.
But for the rest of what I do, the Vursa Series is ‘plenty good enough’ and comes in about $70 cheaper that what seems to have become the industry standard of $200 for a fishing rod. Here’s a video of me boat flipping a six-and-a-half pounder on my 7’3” Heavy Vursa that I use for a frog rod to illustrate what I mean by ‘plenty good enough’.