Obviously the internet has changed the way a lot of us buy stuff, and with lure fishing especially, the world of online shopping has become more and more important - but at the end of the day, surely as an angler you can't help but love a good fishing tackle shop? Those Bass Pro shops over in the US are mightily impressive and I tend to hyperventilate when I am entering one of them, but I prefer good local shops that encourage a bit of time spent talking, looking, discovering and learning.............
If I wasn't fishing, bait collecting or catching up on sleep to go fishing again, when I was at Plymouth uni I spent a whole heap of time dossing in my local tackle shop. Clive's Tackle and Bait is sadly no longer around, but it was a great place to buy gear and of course bait, yap with any number of local anglers who used to drop in, make friends, learn loads, get the piss taken out of you a bit (bloody students!!), and generally just spend time amongst people who loved fishing. There is a newish tackle shop in Plymouth called South West Sea Baits that is run by a thoroughly nice bloke I know, and they have quickly gained a reputation for selling seriously good quality bait - plus more lure gear as well. I passionately believe that good local fishing tackle shops are vital for a thriving local fishing scene. Word gets around, anglers come to shop, anglers stay and chat a bit if they feel comfortable, and you get that kind of social aspect helping to pass news and reports around. All this surely helps anglers want to spend some money.
And if you're seriously into lure fishing then you have a few of these tackle shops that I believe should come with a government health warning. Absolute Fishing over in Tramore (south coast of Ireland), Lure Heaven in Launceston (Cornwall), The Art of Fishing in Wadebridge (north Cornwall) and Mr. Fish (Jersey), shops like these - dangerous places to step into with a wallet. I am full of respect for people who go for it in such a big way with the lure fishing gear - it's easy to buy stuff off the internet, and it's interesting how the shops above are very much into that side of things as well, but when buying a fishing rod for example, I can't help but want to pick it up and get a bit of a feel for it if it's at all possible. The fact that we are getting to see more and more specialist lure fishing rods in these more specialist tackle shops is surely indicative of how saltwater fishing is changing here in the UK.
I was away with my family for a few days this week, and on Wednesday I managed to drop into Chesil Bait'N'Tackle just outside of Weymouth. The people who own the shop have asked me to come along to an open day in June, and since I was in the area and I have never met them or seen the shop, I thought it would be fun to drop in - and holy cow am I glad I didn't walk in there with my wallet!! Another dangerous place to walk into if you're into lure fishing, indeed they had just had a big delivery of all sorts of Major Craft rods (including that insanely good, should cost far more, Skyroad Wind rod, review here). I just love it. A local tackle shop servicing anglers from all over the place, run by fishing junkies who are interested in all kinds of saltwater fishing - I just don't think you can beat places like this. You want to spend money. Fishing tackle shops that work on providing good fishing tackle/bait at good prices, backed up by great service and an attitude that is in tune with their customers. It's a bit like being a chef I reckon - you can't fake it, as in if you aren't passionate about fishing and wanting to work in it then I reckon the general vibe of the shop reflects that. Here's to our good tackle shops and long may they continue.