In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, you tend to see many rural areas. When it comes down to stocking up on fishing gear, the number of stores can be limited. All the large stores such as Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, or Dicks Sporting Goods tend only to be located in cities with a significant population. You need to know how to pick a tackle shop.

While these stores typically have all the equipment you need, they often lack the necessities required for your weekend fishing journey. 

Take a look at the three types of tackle shops you find and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

How To Pick A Tackle Shop in NC, SC, GA

Do you know how to pick a tackle shop in your area of Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina. If not, I know how and can guide you in the right direction. Here are some options

Large Retail Shops

Check out Gander Mountain, Dicks Sporting Goods, Cabellas, and more. Here are the pros and cons.


  • Filled with all sorts of fishing equipment from crappie fishing on lakes to marlin gear offshore.
  • Stock everything from high-quality, expensive gear to budget-friendly options. 
  • For the most part, they are very well stocked and not in limited supply.
  • Pricing can vary based on the shop’s location but typically very competitive because of other competing large retail stores.
  • Many of these types of stores do offer rod and reel repair. 


  • Because these stores have such a wide variety, it isn’t easy to find an associate who can advise you on products for a specific fish species. 
  • These types of stores may require a long drive from your location. Typically only in areas that boast a significant population. The large size of the store means they need to move a lot of product to remain profitable
  • One of the most important is that these types of stores likely will not carry live bait!

Medium Sized Tackle Shops

As we step down in size to what I like to call a medium-sized operation, we tend to see more of a family atmosphere of employees and products lining the more localized shelves for the region. An example would be a one-stop-shop for boating equipment and fishing gear in a small to medium-sized warehouse.


  • The stocked gear will match the type of fishing in your area.
  • Local producers of tackle will sell what they make in medium-sized fishing stores. 
  • The staff is generally very knowledgable because of the fishing associate likely fishing in the area
  • Commonly offers fishing rod and reel repair. 
  • Developing a relationship with staff after repeated purchases may lead to a discount.
  • If they don’t have something you are looking for, the store may be willing to order in the product and call you when it arrives. 


  • Highly unlikely to sell live bait.
  • Prone to running low on inventory, particularly during peak seasons.
  • These types of shops are usually not open as late as large retail stores. They will have limited hours. 

Mom & Pop Tackle and Bait Shop

The last of the three types of tackle shops are the tiny mom and pop shacks that know you by name every time you walk in the door. 


  • These types of places are the most likely to sell live bait. Mom and pop shops often are at a marina or public boat ramp with live bait tanks.
  • Provide the best advice because they see anglers leaving the dock and heading back to the same place. 
  • They are a convenient stop because, more times than not, you’re headed out fishing for the day.


  • Very limited on tackle. Most likely will not have what you need when you need it.
  • The hours of operation can be even more limited than large retail or medium-size stores. Call them to confirm hours of operation. 
  • Although you depend on them for live bait, sometimes they simply don’t have it based on what’s available in the local waters.

A good rule of thumb is to know that you likely will utilize each and every type of these stores. Make two to three trips per year to large retail stores and stock up for the entire season because likely they will have what you need.

Now You Know How To Pick A Tackle Shop

As tackle is lost or worn out, a stop in the medium-sized shop can help you replenish the little that was depleted. The most frequent stop is the mom and pop shop. When you’re headed to go fishing, you rely on bait unless you’re handy with a cast net or bait trap. If you don’t have any good shops in your area maybe you should consider opening your own bait and tackle shop. Tight lines