The big discount stores usually carry a large selection of fishing equipment at low prices, and offer fishing licenses, too. These stores can be found on a main road near the edge of any good-sized town in the United States.
Be careful in all discount stores but especially in the ones that carry really cheap things. Some of the close-out stores have off-brand tackle that's not very good. Look for brand-name lures and equipment when buying at stores that have sharply discounted fishing equipment.
What You Will Find in Discount Stores
When you walk into a big discount store you can spot the fishing section by the forest of rods sticking up near the ceiling. Head to that area and you'll find dozens of rods of all kinds, many with reels attached in balanced combos. There are usually shelves and racks of every kind of fishing lure imaginable. Most everything is prepackaged and will be scanned into the computer checkout system by a clerk who probably doesn't know the difference between a hook and a sinker.
There are often several aisles of fishing equipment arranged in some kind of order. Plugs will be on one side of an aisle and plastic worms on the other. Line will be in another section where you'll find a wide choice of brands, kinds, and tests. There's usually even a section of freeze-dried and prepared baits for you to choose from. Everything will be clean and new because these stores turn over tackle fast, or get rid of it at the end of the season.
The Pros of Discount Stores
Prices at discount stores are usually cheaper than just about any other kind of store. They usually carry a good selection of fishing equipment, and you'll probably be able to find items that can be used for any kind of fishing, not just what's popular in that area. And these stores stay open long hours, so if you need something late at night before a fishing trip, you can probably get it.
You can take the whole family, and everyone can go to their favorite section to shop while you look at fishing tackle. Since these stores often offer everything from groceries to toys, there's something for everyone. That usually means, if others are along, you can spend more time looking at fishing stuff and they won't be begging you to leave.
The Cons of Discount Stores
Discount stores seldom carry live bait so don't expect to find any there. The people working at these stores usually don't know much about fishing and are there to restock shelves and keep things clean. They're not able to order specialized items and are limited in what they can stock. If you pick up a rod and reel to try out you may be asked to put them back and leave the merchandise alone. It's unlikely you'll be permitted to put a reel on a rod, fill the spool with line, and make a few casts with a practice plug.
Parking and shopping at a huge discount store can be hectic. Just finding a parking spot can drive you crazy, and once inside, the crowds aren't what fishermen usually enjoy. You'll have to walk a long way to get to the fishing stuff, going by way too many other tempting items in sections of the store you have to pass through.
Be sure to keep your cash register receipt and any tags from any item you buy. If you find you need to return it for any reason, having both items will help.