If buying fishing tackle online was the only retail show in town now, I wouldn’t even bother posting this.
Only we know that’s not true, of course.
Nice as it is to Google whatever rod, reel or fly box we hanker for, click Shopping and filter and sort away, that will never fully scratch our itch.
Anglers are like those Kindle-spurners who insist that you can’t beat the feel of a real book in your hands. Now and then, we want to feel a real bricks-and-mortar tackle shop beneath our feet.
Our ideal trading environment sometimes involves more than just barter. Occasionally, we want to handle stuff first, find overlooked bargains in dusty corners, enjoy the whiff of tweed and swap wisdom with a kindred spirit behind the counter, safe in the knowledge that the nearest river, on which we might otherwise be asked to demonstrate our outlandish theories, is several miles away.
Fishermen were subconsciously demanding ‘the customer experience’ long before marketing people even knew it was a thing.
So while no-one’s pretending that Main Street fishing shops weren’t feeling the squeeze even pre-virus, no-one will be surprised if it’s a while yet before the last tenacious few slip gently into the night.
But who logs them in the meantime? Who are the best chroniclers of those non-virtual tackle shops still out there?
Putting aside all the uninspiring, flat websites that simply list web addresses, I like these that follow. Some of them will lead you to online as well as bricks-and-mortar outlets and no, I haven’t checked every single link within the links to see how many of them still work, what with having a life and that. Subject to those caveats, though, in reverse order…
5th – Worldwide – The Fly Fishing Guide Directory – Last only because, while it refers to ‘outfitters’, it seems to be more guides than outfitters, but then if the guide doesn’t have the item you’re after, he’ll probably know someone who does. Even on Christmas Island. Links to each contact mean that you can be eyeing up the world’s most glamorous fishing waters within seconds.
4th – UK – Fish Buddy – no links or clarification of the type of fishing catered for but at least you see at a glance where your nearest store stands. Possible cross-reference with Sea-ex below to obtain email addresses at least.
3rd – Worldwide – Sea-ex – Brought to you all the way from Kenya and I make no apologies for its high ranking being due to the listing of more uncommon corners of the fishing universe. Esoterica is my thing. Short of tippet material in Bangladesh, Malta or Saudi Arabia? Sorted.
2nd – Ireland – Angling Ireland – Neat, county by county arrangement, with at-a-glance icons and email and/or web links.
1st – UK & Rep. of Ireland – Where to Fish – Its Rest of the World listings flatter to deceive but the British Isles are well served in the neat layout, with a snapshot of each shop’s homepage providing a gateway to its website.