I made a trip up to Cabela's today to nose around and grab some popper bodies. For some reason I have it in my head to start tying poppers. I don't think I've ever fished a popper before, but I want to tie up a few for panfish and some bass. Spread my horizons and all that junk.
Well, after wandering past the clearance rack and grabbing some holographic thin skin, a couple tube streamers (tubes have been interesting me for a while now) I go to walk into the Fly Shop and have to stop at the racks. I nose around and stumble on a 10' 8wt for $110. I've been looking for a longer 8wt for some time now. A good ol' lake/high sticking rod. And $110 ain't to shabby. But I knew what would happen should the rod follow me home, no matter if I promise to feed and water and walk it every day, so I put it back in the rack.
After wandering the Shop and stopping so my 3 year old can see the bears and wolves and whatever else we have to look at every time where there, I drag her into the bargain cave. There are 3 fly rods in the racks. The same no name, no weight rod that has been there for about a year, a St Croix 9' 6 wt and..... and 11' 8wt. For $23!!!!! It's a Cablea's Traditionalist, but who cares.
Now whenever there is a rod in the Bargain Cave that really is a bargain, it'es either a) broken, b) pieces are missing, or a combination of the two.
My eyes wander up the length of the rod and note that all of the guides are there. I take it down. There's a bit of electrical tape at the first ferrule. A-ha.... I peel of the tape and nothing under it but unblemished blank. WTF..... I finally get to the tip guide and there it is. The tip guide must have come off and someone did a messy job of gluing it back on. I grab it and pull. Solid as a rock. I later found out that the reel seat ring is a little striped, but with a little care it hold the reel well enough to fish with.
So in the cart it goes, with a sock that mostly fits it for $2. I'll make a PVC tube for it but wanted the sock for a little cushion. I also managed to get a "canoe" (technically it's an inflatable boat, but saying "inflatable boat" sounds a bit gimpish. So it's a "canoe") for $50. Big bass here I come!
Now I'm all for supporting the local fly shops, and trust me those guys get enough of my money. I go to the local shop for advise, purchases that I will get a lot of use from (new set of waders, boots), and material. But when it's time for a dirt cheap bargain nothing beats the big box.