Buying from abroadBuying from the USA has advantages and disadvantages.
The prices are generally much lower than in the U.K., and a much wider range of lures and components are available if you can locate the suppliers, most are happy to ship to the UK, but they usually require payment by credit card. Service is usually very good.
But:- shipping charges, import duty and VAT can make up a lot of the price difference. When all these extras are taken into account you may find that the final cost to you is more in pounds than the catalogue dollar price. Check the Sterling-U.S. dollar exchange rate, fluctuations can make the real price very different month on month. If you don't like something that arrives it may be costly to return it. Orders will take several days by airmail or 3 weeks upwards by surface to reach you. Although many U.S. websites have online ordering it can pay to make a phone call (remember they are 5 hours or so behind us, early evening is a good time and the phone calls can be cheaper then) because the assistant at the other end will often point stuff out that was not apparent from the website. Beware of minimum order quantities or minimum carriage charges - NOTE Jan 2009 minimum carriage charges have risen steeply in the last few years making small orders unviable with some of the bigger suppliers.
When they despatch to you H.M. customs will attach a sticker to the parcel detailing the VAT and duty to be paid, the Royal Mail or Parcel Force will add a big handling charge. They may deliver the parcel and ask for the cash at your door, or they will deliver a card informing you that the parcel is available for collection at your local sorting office, and detailing the duty payable. This means a trip to the sorting office and a wait while they find the parcel. Every now and then a parcel slips through and gets delivered without the duty being collected. If you keep the orders small, to less than say $25, you usually avoid customs, I think the threshold for duty and VAT is $35 which includes the carriage.
Significant savings can be made, especially on lure-making components. I tend to use the US suppliers for lures or colours that I can't obtain over here, and of course the latest products appear sooner than they do in the U.K., we're usually at least a year behind. It is a lot less hassle to ring, say: Luremania, and have the stuff delivered on the next day. I hear from U.K. suppliers that they are disappointed that so many lure anglers shop abroad, but tackle retailers have to compete in an expanding market, and the internet has opened many potential customers' minds to the worldwide choice in products and prices.
Shopping in Europe involves no customs or VAT, but can of course present language problems, although most shops in Northern Europe have English-speaking staff. European-made tackle, like Rapala, ABU, Salmo, Kuusamo etc is usually 30-50% cheaper on mainland Europe than it is in the UK. There are very few European tackle shops with full online ordering, so a phone call is often necessary, with its attendant language difficutlies.
A final note on mail-order shopping from retail shops. In a big tackle shop where customers can inspect the lures before they buy them - they do. This means that they will check each one for minor imperfections in finish or build and replace the less-satisfactory ones back on the rack. When you order online the assistant who picks your order will take the first one, which has been rejected by every walk-in customer. You do get a disproportionate number of lures with faults (off-centre lips, cracked paintwork etc). If you telephone your order you can ask the assistant to check for these problems. This is obviously more of an issue with hand-made lures, mass-produced plastic-moulded lures have pretty good quality control and seldom cause these problems.
Note: although U.S. tackle prices are invariably lower than in the U.K. prices do vary, it is well worth shopping around the U.S. websites.