The Definitive Guide to Fly Fishing Trade-in Programs

If you want to trade-in your used fly fishing rod or reel, this guide will help you decide which fly shop trade-in program is best for you.

We’ve collected all the important information about fly fishing trade-in programs and organized it here to help you decide which trade in program will accomplish your goals, whether that's a gear upgrade or to sell your used fly rod and reel for cash.

Why trade-in your fly fishing rod or reel?

Plain and simple: You save money.

Fly rod trade-in programs are an excellent way for customers to upgrade their gear and stay up to date with the latest technology without having to pay full price.

For example, if a customer has an old, outdated fly rod that they want to replace with a newer model, they can take advantage of a trade-in program to get a discount on the new rod.

This makes it easier for customers to keep up with the latest gear without breaking the bank.

In addition to the financial benefits, fly rod trade-in programs also help customers get rid of their old gear in a responsible way.

Fly rod trade-in programs also benefit fly fishing companies by promoting customer loyalty and boosting sales.

By offering trade-in programs, companies are encouraging their customers to buy from them again instead of switching to a competitor.

Customers are more likely to buy from a company that offers trade-in programs because they know they can upgrade their gear at a discounted price.

This helps to build customer loyalty and keep customers coming back for more.

In addition, fly rod trade-in programs can help to boost sales of new products.

When customers trade in their old gear, they are more likely to buy a new rod from the same company.

This can help to drive sales of new products and increase revenue for the company.

Fly rod trade-in programs are also an excellent way for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

By offering trade-in programs, companies are providing an extra incentive for customers to buy from them instead of their competitors.

This can help to create a competitive advantage and attract new customers to the company.

The Potential Pitfalls of Fly Fishing Trade-in Programs

There are some drawbacks to fly rod trade-in programs that customers should be aware of.

First, the credit amount offered for the old rod may not be as much as the customer expects.
The amount offered will depend on the brand, age, and condition of the rod being traded in.
Customers should be prepared for the fact that they may not receive as much credit as they were hoping for.


Second, customers may be limited in their selection of new rods.
Not all fly fishing companies offer trade-in programs, and those that do may only offer the program for certain models or brands of rods.
This can limit the customer's selection of new rods, which may be a drawback for some customers.


Third, customers may be required to pay shipping costs for the old rod.
Depending on the program, customers may be required to ship the old rod to the company offering the program.
This can be an additional cost for the customer, which should be factored into the overall cost of upgrading.

Types of Fly Fishing Trade-in Programs

Fly fishing trade in programs let you trade in your used fly rod, reel, or other gear for store credit towards new items in fly shops or cash.

Fly rod trade-in programs are initiatives offered by fly fishing companies to encourage their customers to upgrade their fly fishing gear.

The programs are designed to benefit both the customer and the company offering the program.

Customers can upgrade their fly fishing gear at a discounted price, while the company can boost sales of new products and promote customer loyalty.

The process of participating in a fly rod trade-in program typically involves trading in an old fly rod in exchange for credit towards the purchase of a new one.

There are four categories of fly fishing trade in programs:

1. Cash

Outfishers is the only program we’re aware of that let’s you trade your fly rod or reel in for cash.

The advantage to this is you can obviously take cash and use it to buy anything.

You can turn the value of your fly rod into new fly fishing gear or sometimes other used fly rods and reels.

2. Store Credit

Most fly fishing trade in programs will establish a value for your rod, reel, or other gear and let you apply that value as credit towards new gear in their shop.

The advantage with a store-credit based fly fishing trade in program is that you get to unlock the value of your existing gear and walk out of the store with a new rod or reel. Pretty sweet.

The disadvantage here is you’re limited to fly fishing gear within the store.

So if you’re looking at this option, you want to be sure that whatever store you’re trading into has something that you want.

If you want a new Sage R8, better make sure your fly shop either has one in stock or can get it for you.

Once you’ve turn your used rod into store credit at that shop, you’re locked in to buying something there.

3. Consignment

These programs let you bring a rod or reel into a fly shop. The fly shop will photograph and list your item for sale on their website or elsewhere.

If they get an offer or the item sells for the listed value, you get credit for that amount or a portion of the sold price.

So the same advantages apply with these consignment rod and reel trade in programs that you get with store-credit based items.

You get to unlock the value of your fly fishing gear, you get credit towards new gear (eventually), but still no beer or diapers.

The big disadvantage here is time: you have no idea how long it could take to sell your gear and consequently have no idea how long it will take you to get new gear if you’re waiting on that store credit to trade up.

So if you’ve got a fishing trip coming up you were hoping to have a new rod for, this is not your best route.

The fly shops like consignment basis because they don’t have to lock up capital waiting for your old rod or reel to sell and they don’t take financial risk because there’s no chance of the item selling for less than the credit they give you.

4. Auction

In short, you bring your gear to a fly shop and they put it on eBay for you. Whatever it sells for is the credit you get.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, you don’t get immediate credit but assuming the fly shop uses 7-day auctions, you’ll have store credit in a week.

But you don’t know how much it’ll be.

And I can tell you that auctioning fly fishing gear off on eBay is financially risky.

I’ve seen rods and reels sell for hundreds more and hundreds less than their average value.

It’s a good old fashioned crapshoot. But again, the fly shops like it because they take no risk.

10 Questions to ask before you trade-in your fly rod or reel.

1. What rods and reels does the trade-in program accept?

The eligibility criteria may vary depending on the program, but typically involves the brand, age, or condition of the rod being traded in.

It is important to check these requirements before participating in the program.

Once the eligibility of the rod or reel is confirmed, the customer will receive a credit amount based on the value of the rod.

This amount can then be applied towards the purchase of a new fly rod from the retailer or manufacturer offering the program.

The credit amount may vary depending on the program, but can often be a significant discount on the purchase of a new fly rod.

Current Production and Recently Discontinued Fly Rods and Reels

Some trade in programs will only take rods and reels they can quickly turn around and sell so they’ll stick to equipment from the last 10 years.

For example, Sage X's and Helios 2’s would fall into the 'Recently Discontinued' catagory. Sage R8's and Helios 3's would be classified under 'Current Production' as they're still being produced by the manufacturers.

Bamboo and Vintage Rods

Other shops will also accept vintage and bamboo rods.

There’s a little more risk in vintage and bamboo rod trade ins for fly shops because they simply don’t sell as fast.

The reason is simple: most people buying vintage and bamboo rods are buying them for collectors value, not to go fishing with. And bamboo fly rod collectors typically don’t shop in fly shops.

The higher the value of the rod or reel you want to trade in, the more likely a fly shop is to take it for trade in BUT not all the time.

There are lots of bamboo rods that sell for thousands of dollars and a lot of trade in programs would shy away from those.

If they’re off on the value they offer you by a few percent, it can mean hundreds of dollars lost.

Some fly shops also accept other fly fishing lightly used boots, waders, packs and more.

If you bought a pair of wading boots but for whatever reason, they sat in the corner of your closet you may be able to find some shops that will take them for trade-in credit.


2. Do they require original accessories?

Fly rod tubes, sleeves, and reel cases are all really important to protecting gear.

  • Some trade-in programs require the original tubes, sleeves, and cases.
  • Some will accept replacement accessories if you’ve lost your rod tube and simply replaced it with a generic one.
  • Some will accept your equipment with replace accessories but reduce the value they give you by 5-10% if you’ve replaced the original equipment or are missing them altogether.
  • Lastly some shops simply don’t require the original tubes and sleeves.


3. Who pays for shipping?

Outfishers is the only trade in program that sends you a prepaid shipping label to trade in a rod or reel.

On top of that, we insure your rod or reel automatically for the value we quote you.

Most trade-in programs require you to ship the rod to their store or bring it in person. So you bear the cost of that shipping, which can be significant and uses averages at least $30 with insurance.


4. Do they take in-kind trades?

In-Kind trades are when you want to trade straight up, your rod for a shop’s rod.

There aren’t many circumstances that are going to make this a win/win for the fly shop and as a result there aren’t any fly shops we’re aware of that advertise this.

You may talk a willing fly shop owner into doing an in-kind trade if you’re getting rid of a high-end rod, say a Sage X, and buying a lower-end fly rod, perhaps a Redington.

But keep in mind, fly shops have to pay bills too and they’re only going to do an in-kind trade if it makes financial sense for them.


5. How much extra do they pay for spare spools?

Extra spools for fly reels don’t bring nearly their original value in the secondary market. If you’re lucky, selling an extra spool that matches your reel may bring you an extra 25%.


6. Are customized rods and reels acceptable?

A few fly shops will take custom gear. The value of custom gear varies more dramatically than almost any other product you could trade in.

You may have an old Sage blank that your grandfather put together in his basement with some of your grandmothers extra sewing thread.

A used fly rod like this is going to bring a low trade-in value.

On the other hand there are tons of wonderful custom fly rod makers that have excellent reputations and can bring high dollars in the secondary market.

Many of these will bring surprisingly high trade-in values.

The challenge is that most fly shops will have to spend a lot of time researching the value of a custom rod and as we all know, time is money.


7. Can you trade in or sell modified or signed fly rods and reels?

Most modifications to fly rods and signatures of boat captains or your personal engraving on any fly rod or reel is going to decrease the trade in value of.

Think about it, would you want to fish a fly rod with some else’s name on it?

Most people wouldn’t and modifications can steer buyers away from an otherwise potentially great rod or reel.


8. Do they take fly rods and reels with replacement or repaired parts?

This is tricky. The reality is it can be difficult for fly shops to determine if a part has been replaced.

Repairs can be slightly easier to see but still aren’t always easy to spot. So unless you explicitly state that the rod or reel is repaired or has replacement parts, no one may ever know.

That said, Outfishers doesn’t sell anything with any parts we suspect have been repaired or replaced.


9. Are there expiration dates on the offers or store credit?

Some fly shops put expiration dates on your offer or your credit. Expiration dates on your offer are for two reasons.

First, to protect the fly shop from losing money in case the market for a particular rod changes over time.

For example, a fly rod manufacturer might disclose a manufacturing defect in an older model rod which would drive the prices of those models down significantly in the secondary market for fly fishing equipment.

Second, fly shops need to know what kind of offers they have outstanding, particularly if they’re offering cash, to manage their liabilities.


10. Why is their trade-in value some fly shops offer different from others?

The trade-in value one fly shop may offer you for a rod or reel can vary dramatically from others for a variety of reasons.

One fly shop may have a customer that’s been waiting for a rod like yours and as a result the shop owner knows he can turn that rod around immediately.

In this case, you’re likely to get a high value.

But baked into those values are different operating models. For example, Outfishers covers your shipping costs which means you won’t have to pay shipping to get your rod to us.

This can equate to $30 on average, depending on the item being shipped and your location relative to our shop.

To compare our offer value to others, you would have to include the cost of the shipping and then compare the various offers.


There you go, everything you ever wanted to know about fly fishing trade-in programs.

In case we failed to mention it, we've got a great one here at Outfishers.

So if you're looking to upgrade your gear and want to cash in on the value of your old gear, check out our trade-in program here at Outfishers.


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