Fly fishing, sadly, isn’t a cheap sport to get into. It’s no wonder the world’s most popular sport is soccer. All one needs to participate is a few friends and a ball. With fly fishing, you need a rod, reel, line, flies, waders, boots, and the drumbeat continues. There are of course specials online that you can snag for under 200$ for a rod, reel, and line setup, but that just gets the rod in your hand, not to the location or even the fish for that matter. You have to drive or fly to that location, either cast on your own or hire a guide. Book your lodging or luckily drive from home, and best of all, have a fishing license. And should you be out of state for your desired location, put your helmet on and look the other way when the cash register scans your payment. 

But that is where this particular story begins. Unless you’re Instagram famous, a company named ambassador, or a trust funded lucky bastard, you’re like most of us that work our tails off for a paycheck. Then brainstorming on how to buy that next Sage rod, trip to Alaska, or put gasoline in your car to just go and hit the local fishery. Let’s not get started on making up excuses to loved ones just to go and hit the river for the afternoon. 

So aside from that, we are all in the aforementioned boat of working so we can fish, and perhaps never being able to make that dream living of fishing for our income. Even I scribble down words on paper so I can spend time on the water. But there is a way that many have never thought of to actually get income from the simple purchases you make on gear. The simple purchases we make on everyday life. And should you be disciplined enough to put this particular income towards a fly fishing endeavor, well, this will be the closest thing to making it as a paid fly fisherman. 

I am talking about the simple use of credit cards. Credit cards are something almost everyone has, but little do I see when I walk into a fly shop, a grocery store, or even payments online, the proper uses of some of these cards. Many people still delve into the use of debit cards for many of these normal purchases. However, should you have the right piece of plastic in your hand, that purchase made with that particular card, can get you back onto the water faster than cash or debit cards could ever dream of. 

Now a line of credit is something everyone should have, and should you not, don’t read another word of this article and go get yourself some. But for those of us that do, did you know that the credit card industry makes around 170 billion dollars every year from consumers like us? Yet 46% of Americans alone are in some form of credit card debt. Wouldn’t it be constructive to give these companies the middle finger and make money off of them instead? We can! And that is where the use of particular cards can get you that cash instead of them. I am talking about cash back reward credit cards. 

This is a fishing story, so don’t click away just yet. But if you’re interested in a stepping stone guide to a passive income, then read on before you head to the fly shop, book that plane ticket, or even put gasoline in your car. 

The old statement, ”cash is king,” is dying despite what effort the king may be putting forth. Plastic is the new power, and how we use this difficult, barely recycled material can help cycle income back into your pocket that you can put towards those next purchases in your fly fishing world. 

Now the homework is on your end and what card or cards you wish to have is entirely up to you, but for reference, there is no law that states how many cards one single person can have. I have nine and counting. And each and every one of them is used for particular purchases, all so I can maximize the amount of rewards I can get. All to get me back on the water with the gear I need, licenses I desire, and travel destination I have always wanted to go to.

For example, I have a Chase credit card that I have used for years and have no desire to deviate from simply because it gives me 5% cash back on each purchase I use when going out to dinner, heading to the grocery store, or a quick stop at a gas station to grab a candy bar. Now the average grocery stop for me about once a week averages around a hundred and fifty bucks. What’s 5% of that? That’s 7.50$ USD, once a week, simply because I used that Chase credit card instead of a debit card or another credit card that doesn’t have grocery store rewards. So I earn 30 bucks a month from the simple use of that credit card, 360$ USD a year as a single dude with a budget. This doesn’t include going out to dinner or candy bars for that matter. It would even work at the bar, though I don’t drink, but remember those fees can certainly jack up as well.

What about gasoline? Please don’t ever use cash again if you have credit. I use a Bank of America cash back card that gets me 3% each time I use that card to fill up my tank. Now, this can be a wildcard. With the fluctuations of gas prices, not to mention almost every American has a car that they use to go to work, drop the kids off at school, and of course go fishing with, this can rack up quick, in a good way! So I spend roughly 300$ USD a month on gas living where I do (in a cheaper state for gas I might add) and 3% on that total each month is around nine dollars. So nine dollars a month for a year is 108$ USD, just by using that card instead of cash on gas. 

So far, my annual income from gas purchases and groceries with the use of two particular credit cards is averaging around 450$ USD a year. That’s about the price of Sage’s Foundation line. Simms Freestone Waders, hell, even a plane ticket. All because I used a credit card for the purchases of gasoline and groceries instead of cash or debit cards. 

What about everyday purchases, like fly fishing equipment, clothes, gifts, or other personal necessities? For these purchases, the homework you do is invaluable. Depending on your spendings, one card may be more beneficial than the other. For example, I have a Discover It card that grants me 5% on different quarterly spendings. So depending on the time frame, I could earn 5% on purchases through Amazon or even Netflix. But the consistent card I personally use for my daily miscellaneous purchases is my Wells Fargo Active cash. I get 2% on everything I use it on, including fly fishing equipment, that Patagonia jacket, oil changes, and even auto insurance and health care. So two percent on all those purchases is wildly different, but those purchases range from 100 to 1,000$ USD a month, depending on my car and health of course. But when these come up, I don’t even blink on a massive purchase. If I have to pay it, make sure you get rewarded for such. So 2% on these purchases ranges from two to 20$ USD each month. So lets say ten bucks a month for a year is another 120$ USD.  

So with my purchases as a single, living alone adult with no wife, girlfriend, dog, or children, my daily purchases from gas and groceries, to a new fly rod and healthcare is around 700-900% USD a month….ouch! But because of the simple use of credit cards instead of cash or debit, I earn around 60$ USD each month and around 720$ USD a year because of it. That, to me at least, is quite a bit of money. And money I put hardly any effort towards making aside from choosing my Chase card at grocery stores, my Bank of America card at gas stations, and my Wells Fargo for everything else. All in my wallet, color-coded and in order depending on the purchase. 

I went and hit the river today on one of my precious days off from guiding and decided to drive a good hour from home to hit a spot I have always wanted to fish. So firstly, I had to swing by the gas station and fill up my van. With gas, at the moment, being 3.00$ USD a gallon, my 25 gallon van needed a full tank. So the total was 75 bucks. With the use of my credit card, I netted 2.25$ USD. I then had to make a stop at the grocery store and bought my favorite pack of sparkling water, a bag of ice, some chicken tenders, and a bag of chips. The total came out to be 15$ USD. With the use of my card, I netted .75$ USD. Then I had to swing by the local fly shop. I am not a big fly tyer myself so I purchase most of the flies I use, plus I needed some tippet, a new leader, and because I saw an article I liked in a magazine at the front counter, I bought the latest edition of The Fly Fish Journal. With a dozen flies, tippet, a leader, and a magazine, my total was 70$ USD. But because the use of my card, I netted 1.40$ USD.

So I spent 160$ USD for a simple day on the river, all to myself. I didn’t need to make an excuse to a wife or girlfriend, and didn’t have to pay for dog food or booze because I don’t have or desire any of those things. So for a single guy to hit the river, with the use of credit cards for his purchases, I brought in 4.40$ USD. In one day’s effort to go fishing, I made almost 5 bucks to cast out and see if I could get a strike. I suppose that hardly seems like a lot of money, even money not worth the effort to stress over. But all I had to do was use a different form of payment. And as a single guy on a budget, it astounds me how many mothers and fathers are out there not taking advantage of this system when their purchases and overhead far exceeds mine. All that coin could go back into your pocket and help you get on the water for a precious day off. And all you have to do is use plastic instead of paper. 

And this is just cashback cards. I didn’t even touch on airline miles for travel, 0% APR for extended periods of time, and introductory bonuses that can pay you hundreds of dollars just for signing up. Half of the country is in credit card debt, paying outrageous amounts of money each month on their monthly unpaid bills all so some executive can sip Mai Tai’s on the beach of their own private island. Don’t fund that person, and instead take advantage of the system. One charge on the card could mean one cast on the water, and to me that seems totally worth it. 

Article written by Sean Jansen @jansen_journals. Sean Jansen is a freelance writer for Flylords Magazine, and spends his time in Bozeman, Montana where he guides tours through Yellowstone National Park.

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