Price Points and Bad Equipment

I’m about done being patient and understanding about junky gear that impacts the experiences of newcomers to hunting and fishing. The whole concept of price points and perceived thresholds of spending pain is based on business principles that don’t fit with outdoor sports. This past week, I watched on numerous occasions as spincast reels failed to perform under the stress of fighting medium-sized fish.

I realize that spincast reels are not thought of as top-of-the-line equipment, but they can be a useful tool for inexperienced casters, especially on windy days. There’s no reason they can’t be made with quality components and built so that they actually work. Unless a spincast reel can be equipped with a drag that is at least adequately reliable, and a switch that lets the handle spin backwards when you want it to, it simply should not be sold.

In this specific case, the reels in question are about three years old, have been well maintained, and had new, strong line on them. But no matter how much fine-tuning went into the efforts, it was impossible to set the drag and have it remain set where you left it. Or worse yet, one little click would take the drag from too light to completely locked up. You’d have to finesse the setting wheel in an attempt to get the drag set properly, and many times there was no such thing even after multiple tries.

In way too many cases, a nice fish would eat the lure, the drag would lock up, the rod would be bending into the water, and we’d be scrambling to try to flip the little switch that would let the handle spin backwards. In such situations with such reels, you should be able to allow the handle to spin and manually create your own drag using resistance from the palm of your hand, the way fly anglers often do. These switches were made of plastic, and they do not do what they are supposed to do.

It was not practical to leave the switch flipped while fishing, because the reel would produce an annoying clicking sound with every turn while reeling in the lure. When we’d try to flip the switch and it wouldn’t go, a last-ditch effort was made by pushing in on the button to let line go out. The result, on too many occasions, was line breaking or slack being created that allowed the fish to get off.

What I’m saying is that equipment used for catching fish has to be able to catch fish, and that any other consideration, such as “we need to sell this for $29.99” is an obstacle to enthusiastic beginners and their quest for success.

The guilt in this department is not confined to fishing equipment, either. Plenty of pieces of hunting gear, including boots, vests, pants, and more are simply pieces of junk that should never be made and sold. In the traditional outdoor sports, the marketplace should be ruled by a higher standard of quality than what is evident today.

3 thoughts on “Price Points and Bad Equipment

  1. You are completely correct, Mark. Companies worry about price and neglect quality. Survival of smaller, US based companies rely on quality and building customer loyalty which is earned by taking the time to bring a product to market that is right the first time.
    Great, professional article.

    • Thank you for weighing in on this, Chairman… I like what you said about customer loyalty. I have a background in working on customer loyalty programs for major and smaller manufacturers, and it seems that too many companies don’t place enough emphasis on it. The research shows that most companies spend a disproportionate amount of resources on recruiting new customers, when they would be better served by paying at least that much attention to keeping the customers they already have. And a huge key to that is making quality products that put a smile on the face and cause you to want to buy that same thing again when it comes time.

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