How to Sell Your Fly Rod
How to Sell Your Fly Rod
We've all got one.
A fly rod that we bought a few years ago and now it's been sitting in the corner collecting dust.
Maybe you didn't like it as much as you'd hoped you were going to. Maybe you couldn’t fish as frequently as you'd planned. Or maybe you've upgraded to something better.
In any case, you can turn that fly rod into cash by selling it or unlocking its value toward a trade-in.
There are a variety of ways to unlock your old fly rod's value. I'm going to show you the best ways to turn your old fly rod into cash.
Selling your fly rod will let you unlock the value of your investment and use those funds towards your new fly rod or simply have the cash to buy whatever you want.
So how do you get the most money for your fly rod?
What's the market like for used fly rods?
How much should you expect to get for the sale of your fly rod?
And where should you list it?
If you're thinking about selling your fly rod and need some help answering these questions, I'm going to help you out.
Step 1: Determine Your Price
First, you need to understand the market for your fly rod. When you buy any good from a retailer or directly from a manufacturer, that market is called the primary market.
When you, the primary buyer, turn around and re-sell that good, it's called the secondary market.
Ebay is hands down the most open, transparent secondary market for fly rods, or almost anything for that matter.
At any time there are thousands of fly rods available for sale on eBay. In fact, right now there are over 5,000 fly rods for sale on eBay.
A simple search of your brand and model fly rod will probably turn up at least a few results of current auctions of like models.
But here's the key to understanding your fly rod’s market.
Just because someone has set a minimum bid price or the best offer price, does NOT mean that's the market value.
A market is only created with the presence of a buyer and an arms-length transaction.
If this sounds like an economics class, well you're on the right track.
Go to the results of the search of your brand and model (don't worry about the rod length or rod weight at this point) and check the box for sold items. This will automatically trigger the completed checkbox as well.
Now, the results you see are actual transactions and prices that rods just like yours have recently sold for. This is your market.
Is this what you should list your rod for?
Well, maybe. Maybe not. Here's why.
- Is your rod in the same, better, or worse condition than the sold rods you see in the results?
- Does your rod have all the parts and accessories like the rod tube, rod cap, and rod sock?
- How frequently and long ago were the rods like yours sold?
The more frequent and current the sales are, the more comparable the results will be to what you can expect (all else equal).
In our experience, the most desired and liquid market for fly rods exists for 9' 5-weight rods. Why?
Because that's the most commonly accepted all-around general fly rod size that's useful for fishing in a myriad of situations.
The further your fly rod is from a 9' 5-weight, the more difficult it may take to sell for a fair price.
If your fly rod is vintage, you are targeting a totally different market than the practical fishing market.
Most folks buying a $3,000 Orvis bamboo rod from the 1800s aren't running out and fishing with it.
It's valuable for its collector value, not its fishing value.
Some rods that are out of production have held or increased their value, like the Sage LL model that has been replaced by the Sage Trout LL model.
Furthermore, if your fly rod is custom, it might be more difficult to sell.
The great thing about eBay is you can see how much rods like yours have sold for.
Are you in a rush? Do you have a fishing trip coming up that you want a new rod for or are you just ready to upgrade and you're willing to wait for your price?
So after all of this, if you're not comfortable deciding on a price, you can simply auction it off and set a reserve price.
I always recommend setting a reserve price and here's why.
The market for specific fly rods can be illiquid at times, meaning there aren't a lot of buyers.
If there aren't enough buyers to compete and bid up your fly rod, you may not get a price you're happy with.
A reserve price will prevent the fly rod from being sold at a price you're unhappy with.
Step 2: Write Your Description
First, clean your fly rod, tube, and sleeve. Nothing fancy, just use good old Dawn soap and water.
Now, you need to make an honest assessment of your fly rod.
We've got a useful tool for that. Check out our Fly Rod Condition Rating Guide, go through the rating with your fly rod in hand and see how it stacks up.
If you don't give your fly rod a realistic grade, you're asking for trouble. eBay dispute resolutions, poor seller ratings, buyers fighting for their money back. It's just not worth it.
If there's a scratch on the blank, make a note of it. If there's writing on the rod sock, describe it. If there's weak epoxy on one of the guide feet, disclose it.
Your buyers will reward you for honesty and punish you for dishonesty.
Next, tell people why you're selling your fly rod. It's perfectly fine to let people know you're ready to try something new. Or you were gifted a fly rod you never wanted. Or whatever the reason.
The background information just gives buyers some insight into who you are and that you're not a scammer.
A word about the fly rod warranties.
I don’t know of any fly rod manufacturer who honors their warranty in writing beyond the original purchaser.
Now that doesn’t mean that people don’t try to get around that.
Lots of folks sell used fly rods with blank warranty cards included, inherently advertising that the warranty for the rod is not yet registered and can be registered by the buyer.
Unless you're 100% sure that you never registered your fly rod and that the warranty is still registerable, don't represent that the rod is or isn't under warranty. Here's why.
Your transaction needs to end with the payment for you, the seller, and the receipt of goods for the buyer. If you represent that the warranty is registered and it's not, you've undercut your value.
On the other hand, if you represent that your rod is not registered and it turns out that somehow it isn't able to be registered, your buyer may come back to you for compensation and/or return.
Step 3: Take Photos
How many photos should I take?
It amazes me when I see a fly rod for sale on a website with one lousy photo from far away of all the rod pieces, the sock, and the tube.
If you're already taking one picture, the extra effort required to take a bunch of photos is literally measured in seconds.
Whatever website you're choosing to sell your fly rod on, you should use the maximum number of photos they allow you to.
eBay currently allows users to upload 12 photos for free. Use them all!
What photos should I have?
Let's start with the fly rod. You should have one photo of the reel seat, one of the cork grip, one of a stripping guide, one of a running guide, and one of the tip-top.
Then, you should have a photo of the tube showing both the rod tube cap and the tube itself.
Lastly, you should have one photo of the sock. Often, they are dirty and wrinkled so if you need to, wash, iron, and use a lint brush to show the sock in its best light.
If there's any damage to the rod or tube, you should absolutely take a photo of it and use it.
You might think that showing off the flaws in the rod will hurt your chances of selling it. In our experience, it's the opposite.
Putting the flaws in your fly rod on display for the world to see shows buyers that you have nothing to hide.
It creates open and honest communication and transaction between you and potential buyers.
Lighting and Camera
If you have a smartphone, you're halfway home. The cameras in smartphones are more than capable of taking great photos of your gear to sell.
What's equally important is the setting for your photo background.
The best background for photos is undoubtedly white and blank.
Don't try to get creative here. Nobody is going to be impressed by the oak workbench top or your kitchen table. Use a plain white sheet or a piece of poster board.
Place the gear on the posterboard and turn on every light in the room.
Then grab some house lamps and put them right up next to your gear.
Even better, if it's a nice day outside, take photographs outside. No light is better than natural light.
Step 4: List Your Fly Rod
Ok. You've got your description written up, your price point figured out, and your photos taken. You're ready to list it. So where to?
There are three sites you should consider listing your fly rod on to sell it.
Step 5: Get Paid
It's mentioned above but the best ways to get paid online are payment services that offer protection.
We use PayPal and Venmo. That's it.
We've tried other formats and checks and bank transfers and all kinds of stuff but in the end, we found the most comfort and ease with PayPal and Venmo.
The other way to get paid if you're selling a big-ticket item or you're still fearful about using PayPal and Venmo is to use an escrow service.
We've used escrow.com when we're making large bulk purchases and have found it successful but cumbersome.
Step 6: Pack It and Ship It
Most United States Post Offices have boxes or sturdy poster tubes you can purchase that will fit your rod. Do NOT ship the rod tube without a box.
Some folks like to ship rods in PVC pipe, which is undoubtedly secure but also incredibly expensive because of the weight.
In our experience, a 200# test cardboard box stuffed with paper or bubble wrap does just fine.
Sure, there is an off chance that the box could be crushed in transit but in our experience, the likelihood of your rod getting lost in transit is much higher than it is getting damaged.
That's why you should ALWAYS insure your rod for its full value.
- Place the rod pieces in their sleeve and the sleeve in the rod tube.
- Wrap the rod tube with bubble wrap or paper to protect it. Be sure to provide bubble wrap or paper several inches beyond the end of the rod tube to protect the ends.
- Place the protected rod tube in your box and fill any space voids with bubble wrap or paper.
- Seal the box with packaging tape.
- Test that the rod is secured tightly in the box by shaking the box lightly. If the rod tube doesn't hit the box walls internally when shaken, you are ready to ship.
We typically use UPS to ship our rods. We've had good luck and they tend to be less expensive than FedEx for us. But several businesses won't use anything but the USPS.
Either way, just to reiterate, you should ALWAYS buy insurance on your rod.
Step X: Sell Your Fly Rod to Outfishers
We'll go ahead and end this post with a shameless plug.
Look, you could worry about all the stuff discussed up to this point, or ... you could simply sell it to Outfishers.
You get a quote for its value within 24 hours. We provide you with a free shipping label. And you get paid via PayPal or Venmo the day we get it in the mail. It's simple.
If you haven't checked out how we pay cash for fly rods, you should.
In any case, selling your used fly rod can unlock tons of value for you to continue your favorite hobby and pick up something new.