Is it look? The accessories? The sentimental feel? Or just because it is one of a kind?
Whatever the reasons are, it’s not that hard to come across people who are passionate about collecting old yet precious stuff.
So if by any chance you have an antique fishing rod lying around in your attic, you might as well take it out and assess its condition. Who knows, you might end up getting rich if you are lucky?
Or if you are into collecting classic, old fishing rods, you need to be sure you’re paying for a valuable piece.
Are old fishing rods worth money? Yes! But only if they are valuable. And what brings value to them? Let’s find out.
Old Fishing Rods vs. New Fishing Rods: What’s the Main Difference?
Before we get to the main point, let’s discuss the main difference between old and new fishing rods. It’s mostly the composition that brings the change.
Old Fishing Rods
Long rods were made using a native plant of the Mediterranean area, the Arundo Donax (Spanish cane) in earlier times. Keep in mind that you need a shorter rod for fast and accurate casts(depends though). Later on, shorter rods were made using the Ferula plant.
These old fishing rods were also crafted using material like cornel wood, juniper, and hardwood.
However, they were made using Bamboo and Heavy European woods, which were tough yet elastic-like, such as lance-wood and greenheart in the 17th/18th Century.
New Fishing Rods
Bamboo(yes, it is still used), Graphite, Fibreglass, and Composite are the basic raw materials to make contemporary rods from the 20th Century.
While Graphite and Bamboo are from the more expensive categories, Fibreglass is comparatively less expensive.
Okay, so that was a short overview of the materials used for fishing rods. Let’s move on!
What Makes a Fishing Rod More Valuable?
We are about to dig a little deeper and see what’s important in the world of antique fishing rod collection.
You have several boxes to tick and a few things to keep in mind while you determine the worth of your fishing rod.
What is it that antique hunters want?
Your old fishing rod should have a good reputation. If it’s built by a well-known maker, then the value is automatically doubled.
While the most valuable fishing rods were made my Everett Garrison as per Carmine Lisella (Expert fly tackle dealer and fishing enthusiast)
His work ended up in the production of one of the finest, most sturdy rods which were known and recognised for their integrity and quality.
In fact, Garrison Rods have a market value of up to $20000 at present. Isn’t that shocking?
However, there’s plenty of fish in the sea (pun intended). Here are some other remarkable rod makers you can look out for:
- Marty Karsetter
- Lyle Dickerson
- Thomas and Thomas
- E.F Payne
- Thaddeus Norris
- C.F. Murphy
- F.E. Thomas
- H.S. Gillum
Another important thing in determining the value of your fishing rod is its type.
Out of Bamboo, Fibreglass, and Graphite, Bamboo is the most valuable collectible fishing rod (We have discussed the reason in the next heading).
Depending on the maker, we can call some of the Fiberglass rods as collectibles. However, it’s very rare to see a valuable graphite rod.
Most of them are not valuable much and only offer aesthetic value, which antique collectors don’t really care about.
You must be familiar with the phrase “It’s what’s inside that matters.” Similarly, in this case, if you consider an old fishing rod, it is the composition that matters.
We know that Bamboo rods cost more than Graphite and Fibreglass rods. The most expensive contemporary rod is the Oyster Bamboo Fly Rod. But why is that so?
Now you must keep in mind that Bamboo was used for market rod production back in the 1980s as well, so it’s not always a unique piece to own.
But still, what you have can be a collectible. Let’s quickly go through the points to see why Bamboo holds so much value over the others.
- It gives the organic, casting feel of Bamboo which people like
- Quite a few raw materials are used for one rod
- It has good performance ability
- Its production required more labor
- To preserve and appreciate the word of old rod makers
To tell you the truth, the cost of raw materials required for making Bamboo rods are almost the same as Graphite or Fibreglass rods.
So why are the old bamboo rods more expensive?
According to Len Codella, a well-known rod designer and proprietor, and owner of Len Codella’s Sporting Collectibles, bamboo rods are expensive because they require far more time to construct. In fact, a lot more days compared to other materials like glass or graphite.
It’s simple: the more the time needed for construction, the costlier the product.
How do you know if your rod length will actually add a few hundred bucks to the price?
Generally, it’s a rule of thumb: the smaller the rod and the lighter the size of the line, the greater the value.
The more desirable and handy rods are under 8 feet in length because they give you better control.
Keeping that in mind, you can expect a 7 feet or 7 feet 6 inch rod to sell off for a price higher than that of an 8 feet or 9 feet rod.
The only similarity though? The maker.
Since you know that Bamboo rods are the most valuable ones, I’d suggest you try and find out its age and the period it belongs to.
To make it easier, let me discuss the four ages of the old fishing rods that can help you determine the value.
Considered as the Golden Age of Bamboo rod making, any rod from this period (1920-1960) is a high-value rod and has a good price.
Old fishing rods dating back to 1920-1960 come under vintage rods.
Now vintage does not necessarily mean it’s worth a really good price because it is often old.
Nevertheless, old fishing rods from the vintage time do have some value and may go for a good price. It mostly depends on the maker.
An antique rod is made between 1850 to 1920s. In comparison to vintage and classic rods, antique rods are usually sold for higher prices.
For instance, in 2007, the 1860’s Norris antique rod sold for $17,920 at a Lang’s Auction. Sounds unbelievable, right?
So you can tell how unique and valuable it must be.
Last but not least, contemporary fishing rods were made after the 1980s.
I know what you’re thinking, are they collectible?
Honestly, these fishing rods can be collectible if the maker has earned a reputation for their quality. So you have to look for that.
Since every maker makes a certain number of rods in their lives, a rod from one good maker can become very valuable.
No matter how valuable your fishing rod is, it has to be in one piece. The condition of an old fishing rod is the prime factor for determining its worth.
Changes and alterations in any one of the specifications can actually downgrade your rod.
So the question here, how do you assess the condition of your rod? Well, it falls into the five categories, which we have discussed in detail.
Near Mint/Mint (Nm/M)
In simple words, Near mint/Mint is the best, untouched condition of an old fishing rod. Let’s say the rod you have has:
- original packaging
- labels from the manufacturer
- the body devoid of any scratches/marks
- no sign of air exposure
Well, good news for you because you might have a valuable Mint condition fishing rod that can be worth a lot.
What makes a rod an ‘Excellent’ rod and not ‘Mint’?
The label and the intactness. Yes, you read it right. Other than that, an excellent level fishing rod should have :
- original packaging
- proper varnish (not soft or tacky)
- Intact hardware and ferrules
- no tears or breaks in thread
- Inevident or no repairing signs
- unbroken tips (a difference of even half an inch less than original can bring down the value)
Very Good (Vg)
If a rod does not come with its original label and varnish, then it might be in a VG condition.
A Very Good condition rod has the following features:
- does not show any signs of abuse
- has a bag or tube accompanying it
- has all original components
A proper, previously repaired fishing rod comes under the Good(G) category. It can have broken tips and show signs of wear and tear.
Fair (F)/Poor (P)
Collectors and rod builders usually don’t want such rods. They are not in any way close to the originals, so they’re not valuable.
But people still keep them. Why do I say this?
That’s because they want to keep it as a memoir or just for the sake of keeping it, not for the money but sentimental value.
Unlike reels, rods generally don’t do well at auctions.
They don’t make much at auctions because most people believe they are not ‘easy to display.’
However, the presentation can play a huge role in determining your rod’s worth. It depends on what collectors are looking for.
The magic trick here is the engravement. Old fishing rods with initials tend to make good money.
Mr. Charles Graham Campbell, a fishing tackle specialist in Glasgow mentioned how there was a smart looking rod which was decorated with a green marble in one of the auctions.
Believe it or not, this was sold for £920. Crazy, right? An old fishing rod that is usually worth no more than £100 or £200 getting a breakthrough like that.
Mr. Campbell also claims that US fishing rods tend to be more valuable. Why so? Because collection over there is much advanced.
An avid collector wants the best of everything. The most valuable fishing rods are often made by reputed builders.
Here are three areas of rod makers explained for your help:
- Classic makers: Their rods are the most expensive and valuable.
- Modern makers: They have good-quality fishing rods with a high market value.
- Contemporary makers: They produce rods according to the current demands. Value mostly varies with each type of rod.
- High volume production makers: They made for the masses in the past. Yes, they were quite famous. Although their production quantity was high, their rods are now only collected because they’re not manufactured anymore.
You can have the best old fishing rod in your hand, but if it’s not in demand, what’s the point? In most cases, demand is proportional to its cost.
So if a certain type of old fishing rod is not in demand in the market, it is possible that it is not worth much money. However, trends don’t always remain the same. Just because it’s not in demand today doesn’t mean it’s useless for a lifetime.
That was too much to take in, right? Well, you don’t need to hurry. Take everything step by step.
To sum it all up, we hope you understand the points you need to consider in determining your fishing rod’s value.
As an enthusiastic collector, if it ticks all the boxes for you, it is definitely worth the money and will only add to your growing collection’s quality.
Who wouldn’t want to own a rare variety of a collectible antique and take their passion up a notch?
As a seller, though, if your rod lives up to the standards and is under the conditions mentioned previously, you might get an excellent price for it.
They may not be worth a fortune but better worth something than nothing. What say?