I have seen it before, actually I see it all the time. Fishing gear tucked into corners and left to rot, replaced with new gear, better gear, the must have gear. Most of us suffer from ETS (Excessive Tackle Syndrome), myself included. We all started with whatever we had. Maybe loaned from a friend, or handed down from family. Guess what? We caught fish with it. We did just fine, we laughed, smiled, and maybe bragged a little. I started 4 years ago with a Zebco 33, you may have too. They are inexpensive combos and probably account for more fish caught than any other reel and rod combo in history.
So what happened? One day I bought a magazine, maybe you met a new fishing buddy and before you new it the gear you had wasn't good enough. I almost felt an addictive need to get a new rod and reel combo (lots of combos). Something better, something that could handle bigger lures, something that would catch bigger fish!!! So I bought my first baitcaster because the pros used them. Those guys had sponsors, they got paid to fish. Obviously they would know what was best for me right?
I was buying gear left and right. I wasn't actually catching more fish or bigger fish, but I looked good. I was a fisherman, I started bragging about the gear. I wasn't bragging about the fish I caught. I was actually proud of the gear I owned, the price of the gear I owned. The outrageous amount of gear I owned! My buddies were too, we always talked about what we were buying next. How much better we would be if we just owned a certain reel or maybe a new lure. It was sad really, but we were so caught up in it we didn't see it happening.
It was around this time that I was introduced to musky fishing. Now up until then I could go out everyday and catch a fish. Maybe not monsters but something. This type of fishing was different...hard. I went a year and a half before I caught one. I broke cheap rod after cheap rod and went through 5 different reels. Don't believe me ask my fishing buddies.
So this begs the question, when should we upgrade? For me it was when I realized that the gear I could get cheaply would not hold up to the rigors of casting the heavy lures required to catch that musky. For you maybe it was a different species you were pursuing or the need to change lures quickly in your first tournament. Whatever the reason at some point most anglers see a genuine need to buy better gear. Not just acquire every piece of gear they can get their hands on. What reasons do you use to upgrade? Need? Want? Everybody is different, definitely no judgement here.