So, I sell quite a bit of stuff - fishing stuff - on Ebay. I've sold bamboo rods, and Peerless reels. I sold a Renzetti Master vise, and God only knows how many graphite sticks. I'm selling something now as a matter of fact, an Orvis CFO for anyone interested. If I want something new or get a little bored with a particular set-up, then it's off to the great piscatorial auction in the sky.
There's always someone out there who is looking for exactly the item that I am offering. As a seller, I do especially well when there's at least two people out there who are looking for exactly the item that I am offering, but I guess that kind of goes without saying. As much fun as selling on the Bay can be, it isn't the point of today's diatribe. Today, we talk about buying.
Buying fishing gear on Ebay can be almost as much fun as going to a fly shop with $100.00 burning a hole in your pocket. I suppose there's a certain element of danger involved. One cannot be sure of the condition of an item one intends to purchase, and buyers never get to meet sellers. Transactions are nebulous and anonymous. I suppose it's a strange, and uniquely 21st Century way to do business. Ebay requires faith in the inherent goodness of the fly fishing public.
I'm happy to report that I've had nothing but good experiences. I've finagled excellent deals on fly lines and tying materials, hooks and discontinued spare spools. Believe me when I tell you that if a buyer knows what to look for, then he or she can find some real gems.
Consider the Orvis Odyssey. This discontinued reel is arguably the best the Orvis company has ever offered. The drag is comparable to that of an Abel, but the mechanics are simpler and better designed (yes, I own both reels). The machining is top notch right down to the recessed counterweight on the spool, which is a simple yet elegant piece of engineering.
Two things killed the Odyssey, and are to blame for its relatively short tenure. First was the near $400.00 price tag. By today's standards this is par for the course, but ten or twelve years ago most people weren't necessarily willing to pay quite so much - even if the reel was made in America (as was the Odyssey). Second, large arbor reels were just coming into vogue at the time of the Odyssey's release, and anglers were reluctant to throw down for a standard arbor reel, regardless of its exceptional quality.
Now we're left only with the Odysseys that find themselves on Ebay (aside from those that pop up at the bi-annual Lang's tackle auction). One can usually find a reel or two for a very agreeable price. Actually, there's one for sale now although the owner seems to know the value of the reel. Not long ago I picked up an Odyssey IV (the largest of the family; a spey or tarpon sized model). The reel was new, and had never been mounted on a rod let alone taken to the water. After five days of furious bidding, I paid just $76.01 for a reel that - if offered in a flyshop today - would likely have cost five or six hundred dollars.
Scouring Ebay for tying material may also be productive at times. On three or four occasions I've found lots of vintage materials that appeared valueless at first glance, but after a careful examination revealed a bounty of polar bear hair or speckled bustard feathers. They're out there. You just have to be willing to look. Need some thread? How about Flashabou? Jungle cock? Whatever you might need it's likely all there. Some sales are better than others and one might not realize much of a discount, but most everything will ship for free and you certainly won't pay state sales tax.
One of the tricks is to deliberately misspell the name of an item. For example, rather than using the search string "Abel reel" try "Able reel." All it takes is for one illiterate or typing impaired seller to list an item, and the average bug chucker might just find the deal of a lifetime. Take this current auction for example. The seller is trying to move an Orvis CFO I disc drag reel. The reel is an older model, preferred by fisherman and collectors to the current incarnation. The seller has listed the reel, however, as a CF0 (that's zero) rather than a CFO (as in Oh my God ... I've screwed up my listing).
Sadly, I'm yet to see anyone misspell Bogdan or Payne.