N00b in Aisle Five

15 07 2009

Previously: I got mixed up in the shady underworld of the World Fishing Network (in HD where available).

Watching a massive number of fishing TV shows is all well and good, but sooner or later it’s time to literally fish or cut bait.

WFN has an interest in leading one to believe that one can grab a rod and catch 30-pound minnows in one’s bathtub. I’m not entirely convinced that divers aren’t swimming around hooking the fish to ensure that the fishing pro has something to show for 20 some-odd minutes of HD television sponsored by literally everybody. But I will defer to these hosts being actual pros, whereas I’m nothing more than a guy who watches people fish on TV.

Thus, I got off of my duff and started lurking around the various national-chain sporting goods stores to at least get an up-close look at the gear and decide if I could actually afford any of this stuff.

I went to Academy first, but the fishing section was completely overwhelming and the customer service was zilch. Short of checking out Ye Olde Zebco® Rod package, I didn’t have the slightest idea where to start. Heck, what fish was I even going to try to catch? Other than “any”?

I decided to make my way over to Dick’s Sporting Goods, where the selection was even more overwhelming but I assumed that there were actual salespeople assigned to particular departments who had an inkling about the items in that department. For example, if I went to the Cycling area, I’d expect the salesperson to have ridden a bike, like, ever.

After 20 or so minutes of uninterrupted browsing, I decided that I really did need to speak to the salesperson about my n00b fishing needs. Nobody was to be found on the entire floor. Once in a while someone wearing official store attire would amble by and disappear into what may have been the break room.

Finally, a guy in the Hunting section offered to help me, and I asked what rod/reel combo the n00b fisherman might do well to choose. He grabbed a $60 spinning rod.

I explained that I’d never fished that sort of reel in my life. Was it any good? Was this rod reputable? Is it “as seen on TV”?

He grumbled and steered me over to the kiddie rods (seriously) and left it at that. I asked what the difference was between the enclosed reel versus the open spinning reel and he thought it was going to be too complicated for a hopeless n00b to master and left me to decide if I liked Spider-Man™ or Barbie™.


No sale for Dick’s, which as I have been telling people is apparently more than just a sporting goods store, it’s a desired personality trait.

I went back to Academy and figured the service was sure to be much better now that I got crapped on by Dick’s. Wrong. I got a “hi” from the counter, and that concluded the deep discussion about getting n00bs into fishing that I hoped to have at Academy.

Of all places, I got my rod/reel combo and my fishing license at Wal-Mart.


Their selection is, shall we say, abbreviated (so unlike Wal-Mart!), but in a weird way that helped me narrow down the search. I paid a little more (?!) at Wal-Mart than Academy, but the guy working the counter was actually – gasp – helpful. He rolled his eyes a lot, and I’m not sure if that was some form of Tourette’s or if working for Team Evil just does that to you over time, but we got through it and the sale was made.

I made one more shopping expedition that I am still trying to come to grips with. Since I was in town (more on that story at another time), I made the trek to the Mecca: Bass Pro Shops.

Yeah, so not overwhelming or anything!

Worse, Bass Pro has more than their own exit off of the freeway. They have more than their own named street. No, they have enough square footage to house a MARINA (I am so not exaggerating) and still have room left over for more outdoorsy crap that you’ll ever need in your life.

Which particular rubber lure would you like?

I peeked into the Fly Fishing hut, and the salesperson was kinda dickish (he didn’t really want to help me, but I didn’t really want any help), up to and including telling another more eager fly fisherman that their selection of flies “is what it is.” (??!!) I thought it was cool to see some of the flies up close that I have seen in HD on WFN (check your listings), but sheesh, no sale, yo.

I drove a long way to buy rubber practice plugs and a Rapala™ crankbait. Sheesh, I could have probably bought those things at any number of stores that sell fishing stuff. But hey, I was there, I found them, sold.

After all of that driving around, I finally amassed a small collection of fishing gear which, I’m told by the packaging, would allow me to fish for something with a reasonable degree of competence.

  • Ugly Stik Spinning Reel/Rod with 4lb test line (WTF? Am I fishing for minnows?)
  • Tackle box that was supposed to be loaded with essential tackle, instead it could fill a thimble (but whatever, it was cheap)
  • Practice plugs (for hookless casting practice)
  • Rapala crankbait

Okay, WFN, mission accomplished. I injected stimulus (hey now) into the sporting goods retail sector.

Guess now I’d have to actually go fishing.

Having landed a couple of big rocks, it was time to hook a tractor tire.

Having landed a couple of big rocks, it was time to hook a tractor tire.

Stay tuned for what happened next.




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