Buying fishing tackle isn't as easy as it should be (that’s why we gave you 5 Tips for Tackle Buying a while back), but one thing that can make it a lot easier is finding the ultimate tackle shop: one where the guy behind the counter actually knows what he’s talking about—and is willing to suggest lures, baits, and hotspots that actually produce fish, instead of trying to up-sell you a bunch of stuff you don’t really need. One that can help you rig up, as well as gear up. One that actually stocks what you want, and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for it.
This mystical tackle shop is tough to find. We just got a brand new one in my neck of the woods, however, which I’m pretty darn sure is going to live up to my expectations. Mostly because I know the guys, Dave and Josh, who opened Island Tackle Outfitters last week, in Chester, Maryland. They spent well over a year—literally—planning and studying what makes a tackle shop right, and that comes on top of several years of experience behind the counter and behind the scenes at other tackle shops. So I asked them what three things were most important in making a good tackle shop great.
1. A good attitude and a willingness to share fishing information. People working in the store need to know fishing inside and out, and can’t hold out on sharing solid fishing intel. We’ve all been into tackle shops where a grumpy old man grudgingly tosses your bag of worms on the counter and grunts when you ask where the fish are biting. Not only is the experience less valuable to you as an angler, it’s simply unpleasant.
2. A monster stock of tackle. Some shops always seem to have everything in the world, except the exact size hook or swivel you need. Telling people “we can order that for you” doesn’t do anyone much good when they’re on their way to the marina.
3. Something to set the shop apart from the competitors. This can take various forms. In the case of Island Tackle Outfitters, they invested in a new type of hydraulic line-spooler which maintains the ideal amount of tension as reels get spooled up. As a result the line goes on more evenly and up to 20-percent more can be packed onto a spool. They also decided to offer an in-house custom rod-building service. And they brought in a number of hand-made custom lures, teasers, and rigs.
How can you find the ultimate tackle shop in your neck of the woods? There’s only one way—you’ll have to go shopping for some new rods, reels, and lures. Awwww, shucks!