Ebay can be a goldmine for buying high quality, used fly fishing gear.  If you know what you're doing you can easily buy the best rods and reels at discounts of 50% to 80% off the retail price.  I've been buying and selling fly fishing gear on Ebay for years, partly due to my frustration with how insane the prices have gotten for premium gear. I never thought I would see the day when a trout rod would cost close to $900!   If you can afford that, great, but you don't have to break the bank to buy the best.  That's why I decided to write a guide on How To Buy Fly Rods and Reels on Ebay... For Less!

Huge Bargains on Ebay

Before getting into the technical details on how to find fly rods and reels on Ebay, let me give you some actual deals that I've found in the past few weeks.

I recently bid on a used Scott A4 fly rod that had been used once, and was as close to brand new as you can get. I ended up winning and from the cork handle to the rod tube it was spotless.  New this rod retails for $395, the winning bid was $192.50, that a 52% savings. 

fly rods and reels on ebay

Here's another example... This is a list of recently sold Sage RPLXi's, their top of the line saltwater rod a few years back that retailed for about $500.  You can buy one on Ebay for $130 to $200.  These are 7 weights all the way up to a 14 weight.  Sage has always made rods that last so talk about a deal!

example of fly rods on ebay

Compare these prices to the new, top of the line Sage X fly rod, which retails for a whopping $895.   Is there really that much of a difference between these two rods?  In my opinion, no there is not. I have owned RPLXi's for years, they are great rods that will last a lifetime if you take care of them. Find one on Ebay that's been cared for and hardly used and you've scored big!



Here's another example... Recent sales of Abel Super fly reels, from the Super 5 to the Super 10.  These reels retail for $650 to $895 or more.  As you can see, the same reels have sold on Ebay for a fraction of the retail price and some of them have backing and fly line included. 

fly reels on ebay

Why Are Sellers Selling?

After seeing some of these deals you may be asking yourself, Why would someone sell their fly rods and reels on Ebay at such big discounts?  There are lots of reasons.  

People get into the sport, then get busy or frustrated and their expensive rods and reels sit in the closet for years, usually in the protective rod tube or neoprene reel case. They forget about them and the next thing you know they're on Ebay.

Then there's the avid fly fisherman, who over the years has amassed a collection of more rods and reels than they can use. One day they decide to thin their collection and make some quick cash on Ebay.

'Rod in very good condition with rod sock and case which had been sold separately. The rod is especially good for euro nymphing. Reducing the number of rods in my arsenal'.

'This reel was used a handful of times but mostly just lived in an equipment case. Fly fishing just isn't for me. Very nice condition with no chips or gouges, just fine scratches from light use'.

Actual Ebay Product Descriptions 

Your would be surprised at how much fly fishing gear is abandoned in storage units and eventually auctioned off.  These rods and reels end up on Ebay from sellers that paid pennies on the dollar for it and are happy to get a hundred bucks for it.

Finding Deals in Older or Discontinued Models

This is really where the gold is found.  Rod and reel makers come out with new models almost every year to spur interest and sales and they get all the attention.  But what about the rods that came out a few years ago that were so great?  They still are, and now you can find those fly rods and reels on Ebay. Here's a few of the best models from the best manufacturers that I commonly search for.  (It's by no means a complete list, I know everyone has their personal preferences)

- RODS -

SAGE

​XP, RPLXi, SLT, TCR, TXL, Xi2

SCOTT​

A4, G2, S3, S3S

ORVIS

SUPERFINE, TRIDENT, POWER MATRIX, TLS, TROUTBUM

WINSTON

BIIIX (B3X)​

- REELS -

ABEL

​SUPER SERIES, TR SERIES, SD

TIBOR

​EVERGLADES, BACKCOUNTRY, RIPTIDE, BILLY PATE

HARDY

MARQUIS, CFO, ULTRALIGHT

SAGE

​4250, 2050, 1680

How to Search For Fly Rods and Reels on Ebay

If you've ever used Ebay you probably have some idea of how to do a basic search, so I won't go into it here.  I will show you some ways to search more efficiently and narrow down the results to find exactly what you're looking for.  Start by typing in something basic, like 'Sage Fly Rods' or 'Lamson Velocity Fly Reel'. Hit 'Search' and Ebay will show you every result that fits that description including new and used equipment.  There can be hundreds or even thousands of results which you can quickly whittle down by adding some search refinements.

Scroll down until you see the all the search refinements in the left hand column.  If you're looking for a fly rod you can choose to see a specific rod weight, length, number of pieces, fishing type, rod power, price, condition (new or used), format (auction or buy it now) and more.  Pick as few or as many as you like, the more you choose the fewer results you will get which should help sift through all the stuff you don't care about. If you are looking for used gear you will need to choose 'Used' under 'Condition'.

Never Miss Another Deal

Now that you've dialed in your searches you can start following them so you never miss a new listing or opportunity.  It's really easy to set up and a great way to have new gear listings served up to you in real time.  I've found alot of great 'Buy It Now' listings and even some auctions by following the searches and/or the individual listings.  Here are the steps to set it up.

When you have chosen all the refinements you want to add to your search, click on 'Follow this search' and it will add it to your list.​

You can monitor your searches by hovering over 'My Ebay' and clicking on 'Followed Searches'.

All of the searches you follow will show up, along with the refinements you have chosen for each.  When a new item is listed there will be a blue dot next to that search, alerting you that you might want to check it out. This is a great way to get a jump on good listings, especially 'buy it now' listings and 'best offers'.  

You can set up and follow as many searches as you like and edit them in your followed search area. One word of caution...  Ebay will ask you to subscribe to email alerts for new listings. I never turn this on.  If you have alot of searches you will get hundreds of emails a day... no thanks. 

If you don't need, or want to follow a search just hover over it in the list, then 'Unfollow' and it will be removed.

Finding Good Listings

Good pictures are the key to a good listing, especially with fly fishing gear.  The more the better and close ups are key.  If you don't see something you want, ask the seller to take another picture of it. Most sellers are happy to do it as they are trying to make a sale. You can request a picture of a particular part of a rod or reel, perhaps the rod tip which can be fragile, or a shot of the internal drag system of a fly reel and so on.  

evaluating fly rods and reels on ebay

Here are a few examples of some great pictures of fly rods and reels on Ebay that can really help you make a decision on whether or not to buy them.

fly rods on ebay

Listing descriptions vary greatly from seller to seller based on how much effort they want to put into it and how much they know about what they are selling.  I am usually looking for any details on how much the rod or reel has been used, and some details on the condition.  Scroll down the listing to see the description...

fly rods and reels on ebay

Again, if you don't see the information you need, contact the seller and ask.  They are almost always going to give you what you are looking for if they can. 

Finding Good Sellers

I've had very few, if any, issues with bad sellers on Ebay but it does happen.  My advice is to just do a quick review of the sellers stats and experience.  Click on the seller name in the upper right corner of the listing to open up their profile.  I would be careful with sellers that appear to be new to Ebay and ask a few questions before bidding.  Other have sold thousands of items and have great feedback scores, like the one pictured below, who's been selling fly rods and reels on Ebay since 2002!

evaluating sellers of fly rods and reels on ebay

Auctions, Buy it Now and Best Offers

There are two ways to buy on Ebay...  Auctions and Buy It Now.  I've had good luck scoring deals with both methods and have a few tips that may help in your search. 

When bidding on auctions it's important not to get caught up in the heat of competition and overpay.  It happens all the time and Ebay loves it.  No one wants to lose and it's easy to forget about what something is worth and focus more on the win.  I would suggest searching the sold listings to see the sales history of an item and stick to that price range. ​If you are patient you will win in the end with a great deal. 

fly rods and reels on ebay

You can find alot of useful information on the bidding history page including the number of bidders, time left of the auction and the automatic bids.  I highly recommend clicking on 'Learn more about bidding' as Ebay has a great guide to everything you should know before bidding.

Personally I haven't found that many deals in 'Buy It Now' listings unless they accept 'Best Offers'.  As you might guess that means you can make an offer and see if the seller will accept it.  This works well with estate sales and storage unit items where the seller paid very little for the item and can still make money on a low offer. I try not to be insulting with my offer but still get the best deal I can.  If the seller rejects your offer you can always increase it.

To search specifically for fly rods and reels on Ebay where the seller will accept a best offer follow these two steps...

How To Avoid Overpaying

Before placing a bid or an offer I always do one final check, I look at the 'Sold Listings'.  This shows you what the rod or reel you want has actually sold for on Ebay over the last 3 months.  It's really easy to check and can keep you from overpaying.  Scroll down until you see 'Show Only' in the left hand column, and check 'Sold Listings'.  

This brings up a list of sales over the last 90 days that meet your search criteria.  Set your max bid or offer in this price range and stick to it, if you are patient you can get what you want cheap.

fly reels on ebay

Happy Hunting!

Here are some helpful links to get you started on your search for the best fly rods and reels on Ebay...for less!  I hope this has been helpful and please send us any deals you've scored on using some of these tips.  Thank you for reading, and supporting Gear Cloud.  We truly appreciate your time. 

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