Writing an article like this is sure to attract some criticism, as personal preference is inherently subjective. Added to this, no one wants bad press, so it’s important to be fairly balanced and look at the pros and cons of the multitude of options available to us when spending our hard-earned online. Each online fishing tackle outlet has it’s own character, and it seems silly to be wedded to one or another when it’s often a ‘horses for courses’ approach to getting what you need.
The main online outlets I use are the the lesser-known Fishing Tackle Traders, the ubiquitous Motackle, Manic Tackle (NZ), Aliexpress and Ebay.
These guys are the new kids on the block. They specialise in high-quality sportfishing brands, excel in customer service and have a commitment to the philosophy of sustainable fishing. All of this ticks boxes for me. Prices are about the same as you will find in the stores, which is fine. So far, I haven’t had any issues with substitution, which is great. Definitely worth a look, and I think it’s great to support some of the smaller players to encourage a bit of healthy competition, particularly when it’s a relatively small Australian business with Australian staff. We all know that competition equals better deals for us, so you’re doing the industry and us a favour by spreading your dollar around a bit.
One thing I love about this website is their species profiles. Great fishing tips and photos and a few comments on the sustainability and stock status of key species. Disclaimer: I wrote some of them. But that shouldn’t matter!
Motackle’s main drawcard is volume and variety. Pretty much anything you can think of is stocked in this store, and the prices are generally reasonable. You can get some things cheaper from places like BigW (e.g. metal slugs and some brands of plastics and braid), but price is usually competitive. My biggest annoyance with Motackle stems from their propensity to substitute items that are out of stock. I can’t remember the last time I made an order for a few different items and didn’t receive a call saying ‘Sorry mate, but we’re out of the bloodworm wrigglers. Would you like a few in silver fox?’. My reply is usually “No. But I don’t really have a choice”. Good price and reasonably fast delivery, but after a while it can become frustrating.
This is a New Zealand store specialising in flyfishing needs. These guys are good. Really good. Most of their stock is high quality, including their great selection of flies, which are immaculately tied on good hooks and with nice materials. Specialising in Simms, Scott, Airflo, Loon and Lamson, these guys clearly understand the ethos of ‘good business is based on good products’ (I just made that up, but I’m sure someone has said it before). The website looks cool as well, which is a big plus for me. You can’t generally buy straight from the website, but most decent fly fishing and tackle stores stock some Manic gear. It’s also worth trying to contact them directly if there is something you really really want to get your mitts on.
If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of it yet, Aliexpress is basically the Chinese version of Ebay. To be honest, Aliexpress kind of scares me sometimes. I find it weird that I can buy 5 spinnerbaits for $10 and have them delivered within two weeks to my front door, for free. The quality isn’t as good as what you might get with some of the better gear, but they still catch fish. The variety isn’t necessarily there, either. I can’t buy a cod whalloper, or a jointed mantis, but I can buy a packet of perfectly fishable little 3inch placcies that will nail flathead, bream, bass and redfin. For less than $3. With free postage.
I understand that buying from some entrepreneur in China doesn’t necessarily help Australia’s economy, but as mentioned before, competition is generally a good thing for the consumer.
Ebay is kind of cool because it’s a bit of mix between Aliexpress and other online outlets. Some of the gear is super cheap and with the quality to match, but there are also some really good deals on better brands and higher quality gear that can make it worth a good long look. Interestingly, companies like BCF and TackleWorld are all over it, and good on them for doing so. I’d rather go to Ebay to buy a reel than talk to some pimply kid in Tackleword that knows everything about fishing but has the emotional intelligence of a squashed slug.
So that’s pretty much my online shopping mall. It certainly beats walking around a shopping centre, but sometimes visiting your local tackle store can be a rewarding experience. It can be good to talk to fellow fishers about what is happening around the place (sans aforementioned slugs), and getting a look and feel of the lures and gear is always a good idea before you make a purchase. I’m keen to hear about your experiences and tips in the comments below. Happy shopping.