A popular high street discount store has revealed that its sales of £1 per item fishing tackle have increased 100 per cent in the past year.
Bosses at Poundland admitted it has been ‘astounded’ at the sheer demand and popularity of its relaunched line of tackle, which it believes is helping to introduce thousands of anglers to the sport.
But the boast has angered many influential people within angling, especially those in the tackle trade who think that offering ‘budget’ gear will not only take vital business away from tackle shops, but could also turn people away from fishing by providing a sub-standard experience.
The discount store’s new ‘Get Fishing’ brand includes not only rods, reels and terminal tackle, but also feed and hooker pellets. Charlotte Wilson, trading controller of seasonal events for Poundland revealed that the company is currently considering expanding the £1 range over the next 12 months.
“Our tackle is flying off the shelves and is one of our most popular product lines. We’ve worked on this range with a supplier who’s an experienced angler, and he ensures us that the gear we sell is the best available for the price and is of sufficient quality for youngsters to catch a decent stamp of fish. People have realised that fishing is a cheap, fun and highly accessible sport and we will continue to give them what they want.” Poundland’s success suggests that there are many young anglers out there who believe ‘the cheaper the better’ when it comes to tackle. However, established figures within the sport have been quick to point out that adopting such a belief is a ‘false economy’, and that the low quality of tackle on offer at cut-price stores will fail the test of time.
Shaun Hammonds is general manager at Bennetts of Sheffield, one of the most successful and longest-running tackle shops in the UK. While he is all for making angling readily accessible to the public on a financial basis, he is adamant that using tackle from shops like Poundland is not the way to introduce new blood into fishing.
“It’s clear that this gear isn’t going to last, and if a rod or reel breaks as soon as a young lad gets it out of the packet he’s just going to throw it away and pick up his PlayStation. Tell me how that is good for fishing?” said Shaun.
“Budget tackle is a great way to get people into angling and we pride ourselves on putting together quality, affordable starter kits for beginners. If the tackle is right and they catch fish, they’ll come back.
“The right advice as regards setting up your tackle, the right waters to fish and the do’s and don’ts of angling are as important as the gear we sell. Tackle shops can provide all of this, whereas Poundland and co fail miserably.” Despite Shaun’s concerns, which are shared by most in the fishing industry, the fact remains that as long as sales continue to rise, bargain stores will continue to stock fishing tackle. According to Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd, it’s an issue the sport must address.
“A tackle shop can be a very daunting place for a beginner to go, so I think that to have a bit of fishing gear in places where the general public do their everyday shopping can only be a good thing,” said Mark.
“However, the Trust is going to do it’s damndest to try to work with shops like Poundland in the future to ensure that the people that make purchases are directed to tackle shops to get proper advice and guidance, so that they stay in the sport.” This is a view shared by Angling Trade Association chairman Sean O’Driscoll, who said: “We can’t stop these shops selling tackle, so all we can realistically do is ensure that traditional tackle outlets are accessible to all and offer great deals and advice for beginners. Hopefully, when those who have bought tackle from budget outlets are looking to move to the next level, we can pick up the baton.”
Ben Miles kitted himself out for a session at a local commercial fishery.
Here’s what he got for £8:
Rod: 4ft 4in telescopic glassfibre ‘Get Fishing’ model.
Performance: Very stiff, and casting rigs any deeper than 4ft was difficult.
Within 30 minutes of fishing I’d caught two tench of around 2lb and two small F1 carp.
Reel: ‘Get Fishing’ fixed spool.
Performance: It came loaded with 7lb line, but was under-spooled. Drag and bail-arm worked okay.
Line: 200m of Get Fishing mono for £1 (100m each of 15lb and 7lb).
Performance: No fine diameters available, but the 7lb variety certainly did a job.
Landing net head: Collapsible net head with a 38cm diameter.
Performance: Fine for my 2lb tench, but anything larger might cause problems.
Hooks & swivels: 25 assorted hooks and 25 swivels in a pack.
Performance: Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the hooks because they were too big and all barbed.
Bait box: Capacity of 2.5 pints.
Performance: No complaints.
Bite Alarm: Get Fishing bite alarm.
Performance: Didn’t instil me with great confidence. Poorly made and came with a bizarre line clip facility.
Pellets: Elite 4mm feed pellets.
Performance: They all sank well and after feeding for a few minutes the fish soon showed an interest.
Conclusion: I was genuinely surprised at how much tackle I got for my £8, even if the outlet I visited didn’t have any floats, split shot or suitable hooks for the job. In the end, however, I can only see it being suitable as a starter kit for very small children under the guidance of an adult. I think the reason I caught on the set-up was thanks to the quality of the venue and the hooks-to-nylon, float and shot I picked up from my local tackle shop.
If I had to make a decision between spending £8 at Poundland or £30 in a tackle shop and walking out with vital advice, plus a starter kit bearing reputable, reliable brands, I know which one I’d choose.