Column: Fishing and finances
Like most hobbies, fishing can be a drain on the finances.
The more you get into it, the easier it is to spend more for upgrading equipment, traveling to new locations, replacing and repairing gear, and getting the latest and greatest advances (in electronics, trolling motors, rods, reels, etc.). Be careful that what you're investing into this sport, as many products are out there to catch the fisherman and not the fish. It always makes sense to stay within your budget, and learn to use what you have effectively. Some anglers will have $3,000 worth of electronics and only use $500 worth of their functions.Having the latest and greatest may not benefit you as much as learning how to use what you have effectively.
One way to save a few bucks on your fishing hobby is to repair instead of replace. A recent example for me, was the netting on my net being worn to the point of hooks getting caught in the threading. When I bought the net years ago, it had a coating that helped prevent jigs, hooks, and crankbaits from getting caught in the net. Weather, water, fish slime, and the sun have worn all the coating off. I like the handle, strength, and size of the net (that is why I bought it in the first place). So I had sticker shock when looking at buying a new net. I also looked into just replacing the netting which was considerably cheaper. Cheaper yet, and for the same amount of time as disassembling the hoop and replacing the net, was purchasing a can of rubberized spray coating. For $7 and less than a ten minute job to apply two coats, an hour drying time, and my net is good to go as the day I purchased it.
Creativity and a DIY attitude can not only save you some money, but provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
Many rods and reels have been replaced before their time. Cleaning, re-greasing, and oiling a reel can make it perform like new again. A broken guide on a rod doesn't need to end the life of it. A rod builder or repair shop can replace tips and guides (FYI, I do that work too!). Take the time in your end-of-the-fishing trip routine to make sure life jackets, throw cushions, cooler tops, and clothing is stowed and secure. Most of us have found these items on the road or have lost them ourselves. The cost and the inconvenience of replacing these types of items become a motivator for making better decisions. I am guilty of costing myself just for lack of organizational skills. An example from a couple years ago is misplacing the extension for my auger. I looked everywhere (I thought), and ended up buying a new one. About a month later I found the old one. I don't ice fish anyplace I need two extensions. Taking good care of your equipment and gear is one of the best ways to save money and maintenance is even cheaper than repairing or replacing!