Over the past month or so I have been going back and forth with emails and comments on the J&H Tackle YouTube Channel with a few anglers over whether a $1000 fishing reel was better than a $200 fishing reel. This probably came about because we started posting product review videos on the new Shimano Stella SWB Spinning Reels and they cost over $1000 each. These commenters felt that a $1000 reel was not worth 5 times as much as a $200 reel and wondered why anyone would spend $1000 on a fishing reel when there were much less expensive alternatives that they perceive do the exact same thing.
Let me approach this from a different place. It seems to me the essence of what a person would pay for a product (any product) is directly related to what they feel it is worth combined with their desire to own it. Cars seem to be the best example of this. When most people see a Ferrari drive by, they usually say “cool” or “wow, check that out!” They recognize that it is an expensive car, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that a Ferrari was over priced and that you could get a car that does the exact same thing for 1/5th the price. Over the past decade, cars have gotten much more reliable, they last a lot longer and ride quality and car experience have improved dramatically. With all that said, you get a different experience driving a Kia then you do a Mercedes. Chances are they will each drive just as many miles over the course of their lives but one is going to give a driver a more luxurious experience.
If you’ve read some of my past blog posts or spoken with me on the phone you know I am very much into the fishing experience. That is not the act of going fishing, but how you feel while you are fishing. What fishing experience do you want? Some people like to camp out on the ground in tents, and others prefer to stay in five star hotels while they are on vacation. The two experiences are very different and cost different amounts of money. Fishing is exactly the same. Spending different amounts of money gets you different experiences.
I don’t want you to read this post and come away thinking that you need to spend a lot of money to have a great fishing experience. You don’t. We have guys coming into the store all the time spending thousands of dollars on fishing gear because they want to have a certain experience, and we have guys buying $20 combos because they want to have a different experience. Both will catch fish but they will each give different fishing experiences. Most customers are not choosing between those two extremes. They are usually at one price range deciding if they want to spend a few more bucks to get gear that is a little bit better and will enhance their fishing experience.
With that said, it is my opinion that a $200 fishing reel does not do the same thing as a $1000 fishing reel. It just doesn’t. Yes you will catch fish with both but the $1000 reel will last longer, catch more fish over its lifetime, has better internals and externals, and gives you a significantly more refined fishing experience. It is not fair to visit your local fishing tackle store, turn the handle on the $1000 reel and say that it is the same as the $200 one you have at home. You need to fish the reel to determine its worth.
There are definitely products on the market that are overpriced and that are not worth the asking price, but when it comes to Stellas, Van Staals, Accurates and other high end fishing reels, that is not the case. Many of these reels are basically hand made. They were built to perform a certain task and they do it very well. They are absolutely worth the money.
In the future, try to judge fishing tackle the same way you do cars. Some are very expensive and out of your price range and that is fine. You don’t need a Ferrari to get to and from work, but you acknowledge that they are really cool to look at and driving one would be a lot of fun. If you love fishing and you want a better fishing experience, buy a better fishing reel. If you don’t have the money, save up for your dream reel. With the amount of surf fishing on Long Island, we sell a lot of Van Staal Spinning Reels every year. Many of them are to guys who have saved up for months and months and they are super happy when they pick up their new VS. They know that the VS is going to do things other reels cannot.
It is up to you to decide what type of fishing experience you want to have. If you want to spend a lot of money on your gear, that is great. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your gear that is great too. Either way you will catch fish but don’t judge the guy who wants a different fishing experience than you do. Fishing is a very personal sport that stirs up passions. That’s one of the things that I love about it.