Are you having trouble finding that perfect gift for the angler on your list? So is my wife. I admit she has a very hard task when it comes to gift giving as I am pretty sure I have all I’ll ever need, and then some. I’m not saying I’m a hoarder or anything, but my collection of fly fishing related goodies sometimes blocks out the sun until I beat it back into the proper storage location. And I’m not very good at that.
So when I tell her I really don’t need anything, I mean I really don’t need anything. Nevertheless she wants a list. You know, one of those carefully crafted documents you folded up and hand delivered to Santa when he made a pass through your town. You may even have tucked a piece of peppermint gum inside as a bribe for the jolly old Elf. I’m too old for that, and I really don’t need anything. Besides, Santa has his hands full with all of the folks I contacted to find out what the perfect fly fishing gift would be.
I sent out a note to over 40 guides, industry professionals and hardcore fish bums asking what was the best gift they ever received, or the gift at the top of their list this Christmas. The responses ranged from the practical to the obvious. Never ask a reel maker what he thinks is the best gift. I did get some great insight from a few of my friends, including Mia Sheppard who suggested a packable watercolor set. Cool idea indeed. Others went crazy and sent links to off the hook fishing rigs, private aircraft, boats and assorted toys that would not fit under the tree. I have boiled down the rest into the Top Ten Best Fly Fishing Gifts Ever. Starting with number 10.
This almost doesn’t qualify for the Christmas list due to the bad memories associated with getting socks and underwear under the tree when all you wanted was a Red Rider BB Gun. Well, we’ve all moved past that and warm feet are one of the greatest gifts you can get when standing in 34 degree water, Plus, you won’t shoot your eye out.
A Fly Box of Flies.
This was a very popular one with many of the people I polled. The best gifts come from the heart and the talent of the giver. Even if you don’t tye flies you can personally select a collection of patterns for their favorite fishery. Like the newly released Crandall's Promise Keeper.
I’ve collected fly fishing books for a very long time and enjoy sitting down in my tying room and revisiting an old edition on a rainy day. This too was a common answer to the posed question, with many listing favorite authors. DVDs also fall into this category and there are a few new ones out, including Catch Magazine Season 6. I wonder who suggested that one?
A Fly Tying Vice.
My first vise was a Thompson “B” Fly Tying Vice. I was 7 or 8 when I got this beauty for Christmas. The red handle looked so cool and I no longer had to wait for Gramps to finish his tying. This gift started me down a very long and winding path. I still have this vice and it still works. Since the Thompson B is no longer available, you might want to look at something a little more modern. Renzetti makes my current vise, the Presentation, as well as models in other price points. A good tying vice will last forever, which is more than you can say about that Chia Pet you got last year. Tying materials and tools are great shocking stuffers too.
Waders, jackets, hats, gloves, or anything to keep them dry and warm this winter would be a winner. Leaks are only found in the coldest of conditions as a rule, so being proactive in upgrading basic waterproofing and insulation is always a welcome gift. Most often mentioned in this category was the Guide Pant and Coldweather Shirt, both from Simms.
Good polaroid glasses are used by anglers no matter where they fish. Besides giving us a better look into the watery world of fish, they also have the added benefit of protecting eyeballs from UV rays, errant flies, bugs and other debris. I’m going to add a shameless a plug here. Costa. If you haven’t tried them, you should.
It doesn’t matter if you call them nippers, Nipas, or clippers, everyone wants a pair of sharp ones. This item was mentioned often by those who have suffered through a day of nipper envy when they hit the water nipperless. Abel Nippers topped the list of “I wouldn’t buy them for myself, but...”, with Rising’s Nipas being the budget favorite. Toss in a lanyard or retractor so you don’t have to buy them every year. The funny thing about this suggestion is it was most often recommended by river guides...
Rods and reels make great gifts if the budget allows and if you know what bit of tackle is missing in the quiver of the gift recipient. This suggestion was the number one favorite of the rod or reel makers and the factory reps I queried, but they are slightly biased. They did include a matching rod or reel for whatever their latest offering was, and of course a proper line. It was very kind of them to think of others during this festive time of year. Perhaps I’ll send them socks.
A Fly Fishing Future
There are many groups out there working hard to make sure we all have clean water, wild fish and access to our fisheries. Support them. The gift of a donation or membership to your organization of choice is a great way to help spread the holiday cheer to our fishy friends, and in most cases it’s tax deductible.
A Fishing Trip.
Guided or otherwise, a day on the water is priceless and makes memories that last forever. Kellie gave me a Mako Shark fishing trip last year and I’m still thinking about it. Of course, after she had a while to think about it herself, sending me off in a small boat to fish for Sharks maybe wasn’t the best idea she’s had.... but I loved it! Fishing with a pro is a great way to learn a fishery or pick up a few casting tips. I love being guided on the water as I can focus on fishing and not have to worry about the logistics. The catered lunches are nice too. The Trout bums I sent this to thought a guided Steelhead trip would be perfect. Sounds good to me too...and Steelhead don’t have big teeth.
There you have it. The Top Ten Best Fly Fishing Gifts Ever, or at least the top ten as suggested by my group of friends.
Do you have something to add? Post a comment below.