Gift Guide: 30 Items For Fishermen
It’s that time of year again when malls are zoos and servers are crashing as millions of hungry holiday shoppers...
It’s that time of year again when malls are zoos and servers are crashing as millions of hungry holiday shoppers log on to score the hottest deals on the Net. That’s why Fishing Editor Joe Cermele and Editor-At-Large Kirk Deeter want you to get a jump on purchasing presents for all the anglers in your life. Here are 30 fresh wares for fishermen, whether they’re into hitting the hardwater or casting flies. Everything on this list has been field tested by Deeter and Cermele, so quality assurance is guaranteed. Whether you need a stocking stuffer or new rod for someone who has been really, really good this year, you’ll find gifts here starting as low as $3.50. Happy shopping.
$3.50–$6.00 per pack; bozemanflygoods.com
Here’s a nice little stocking stuffer for the special fly tier in your life. New from Bozeman Fly Goods, Bug Collars are weighted rings available in a wide variety of sizes designed to make it easier to add a little extra (or a lot of extra) mass to your flies. Made in loads of colors, they also help you create custom hues that can make a bug a bit fishier. Stack a collar behind the beadhead of a nymph, drop one behind the conehead of a streamer, or tie one in the middle of your San Juan worms. They’ll help get you in the zone quicker, and in some cases can even save you from adding split shot to your leader. –J.C.
Bozeman Reel Case (and Beer Holder)
Every time you buy a new reel it comes with a case that the smart anglers use, and the average guy (me) ends up losing or just jamming in some nook of the garage, never to be seen again. But Bozeman has added some simple tweaks to a pretty mundane item and suddenly made it exceptionally useful. Mesh panels allow air to pass through and dry your reel within the case, but the coolest twist is a second Velcro tab within the case that allows you to secure it to your wading belt. Now the case can be used to hold your reel while you re-rig hands free, or even hold a cold beer. –J.C.
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for anything fishy with a homegrown, local vibe. That’s exactly why I dig the new lids from RepYourWater. These guys incorporate state flags and colors with state fish, or in some cases, fish most associated with said state. If you need stocking stuffers for all your fishing buds, this is a no-brainer. I constantly change up between my PA, NJ, and NY hat depending on where I’m about to wet a line._ –J.C._
Everyone who has one of these is shocked by the insulating performance—as in, you can leave a glass of ice water on the nightstand, and still have ice cubes the next day. Or, you can fill it with hot coffee, and stick it in a snowdrift as you shovel the driveway, then still risk burning your tongue when you pick it up to drink. It really is uncanny just how well this thing works. I recommend the 20-ounce size because that fits in most drink holders on boats or in cars. It is a slam-dunk “wow factor/how did you find this” gift for friends and family. –K.D.
Fishpond Sushi Roll
I’m a big streamer junky. Thing is, large streamer boxes take up a lot of room. The foam Sushi Roll allows me to carry just as many monster bugs as a hard case, but tuck them away easily in a sling pack or drift boat compartment. Foam teeth along the edges create separation, letting air pass through to dry your flies when the Sushi Roll is all rolled up. Brilliant. –J.C.
STORMR Typhoon Gloves
I hate wearing gloves when I’m fishing, but sometimes you just have no choice. If it’s cold enough that I can’t get away with fingerless gloves, I’m wearing STORMR Typhoons. These neoprene gloves are no nonsense, built-like-a-tank hand protection that will keep your fingers nimble and dry. Go ahead, dunk them in an icy river. You won’t feel a thing. Can I say that they offer the excellent sensitivity when you’re high-stick nymphing in frosty weather? Well, no, but they let you feel enough, and sometimes you just have to adapt for the sake of thwarting frostbite. What I can tell you is that you’ll have these gloves for many, many years. –J.C.
Buff UVX Mask
I’ve been sold on Buffs for years and rarely fish without one. This year, they’ve taken facial protection to the next level with the UVX Mask. Made from Coolmax extreme fabric that blocks 95% of the sun’s harmful UV rays and wicks away moisture, the mask comes in four colors. Engineered to shape itself to your face, the UVX mask features laser-cut breathing holes to keep sunglasses from fogging up, while the contoured design protects vulnerable skin on the back of the neck, face, shoulders, and upper chest from sunburn. –J.C.
Coldavenger Classic Fleece
If you’ve ever worn a fleece face mask while fishing in the winter, you’ve likely experienced that terrible feeling of your own hot breath moistening the mask, making it tough to breathe, and steaming up your shades. You won’t have that problem with a Coldavenger. Their medical-grade ventilator keeps you breathing easy sans steamy coffee breath. Yes, you kind of look like Darth Vader wearing one, but when it’s cold enough to actually need it, are you really worried about your appearance? I’m certainly not. –J.C.
The GRAYL Water Filtration Cup
This is simply the best, most reliable, and most convenient water filtration system I have used. It works like a French press—fill the canister in the lake or river, press the filter down, and you have pure drinking water, free of bacteria, chemicals, and other nastiness. I’ve used it in the backcountry, and now just carry it when I spend a simple day fishing. The plastic version (Quest) is a lighter option that you can tuck in the back of a jacket or vest, negating the need to carry pre-filled water bottles. Get the “Trail” filter for most fishing situations. –K.D.
Carhartt Paxton Sweatshirt
Looks like a run-of-the-mill hoody, right? Wrong. The difference between the Paxton and your old Metallica sweatshirt is that this one features Rain Defender technology, which makes this classic garment water repellent. I wore one steelheading in Michigan this year, and sure enough, raindrops just bead up on it and roll away. Best of all, the sweatshirt is as comfy and non-restricting as a normal cotton hoody despite the techie upgrades. –J.C.
If you’re looking for a little custom flare and homemade handiwork for the ice this season, check out Jack’s Traps. Made in Maine, these tip-ups have a sturdiness and finish that rivals fine Mission furniture; a set of these will probably last deep into the next century — unless you back over one with your truck. Jack Traps offers a clip, much like a downrigger clip, that prevents lively bait from pulling line off the spool but retains the free-spool feature that allows a running fish to feel no resistance after the strike. –J.C.
GoPro Sportsman Mount
It seems like GoPro cameras are as common on the water these days as bobbers. If you (like me) are all about documenting your fishing adventures with one of these action cams, you absolutely, positively must get a Sportsman Mount. Before GoPro released this mount, I was leaning on handle bar mounts and duct tape to get my cameras on rails and gaff handles. The Sportsman lets you clamp a GoPro to pretty much anything, and more importantly, it clips on and off in seconds, making it easy to quickly transitions from the rod butt to the net handle during one of your epic battles. –J.C.
Vedavoo Little Bugger Kid Sling
Sure, there are many fishing vests sized to fit young anglers, but when you think about it, the sling is really the thing when you’re talking about getting upstart anglers comfortable on the water. It makes casting easier, and without all those pockets, it’s easier to carry what the young angler really needs to enjoy a day on the water. Vedavoo has come up with the best fly-gear carrier for any young angler to wear with this simple sling. It holds just enough, but not too much, and most importantly, it’s very easy to fish with. –K.D.
OluKai Kai Ko Sandals
I bumped into my first pair of OluKais two summers ago in a South Jersey tackle shop. Ever since that day, they have become my absolute favorite flip-flops. Why? Because I’m hard on sandals, and these have stood the test of time and punishment on the water. All OluKai footwear is extremely well made, non-marking, and dries fast. I’ve particularly fallen in love with the Kai Kos. They’re extra-lightweight, super durable, and provide great traction on wet docks, rocks, and decks. Most flip-flops end up being throw-aways, but these have already become old friends. –J.C.
All Terrain Sound Speaker
If you like to listen to a little music as you paddle down the river or float the lake or ocean, this is the ideal speaker. First off, it’s waterproof, so don’t worry about it getting rained on or even falling in the water. It’s shock resistant, so if you drop it, it probably won’t break. It clips on to boats, bags, quads, and other things, carabiner-style. And it’s Bluetooth enabled, to pick up your own music library. I’ve had one all summer in all conditions, and it’s going strong. –K.D.
RIO InTouch Gold
Winter is the time to change out fly lines so that you’re ready to hit the new season at your best. In fact, a new fly line can give that old fly rod new life. The new RIO InTouch Gold fly line is one of the best new options on the market now. It’s really an all-around option for nymphing, shooting streamers, or delicately dropping dries in the feeding zone. As lines are growing more and more “specialized” these days, I appreciate more and more an all-arounder that allows me to switch on the move, and boom long, accurate casts, knowing that the tip section will ride high in the current, and last a long time. –K.D.
Cabela’s + Icebreaker Merino Wool Base Layers
Wader comfort is a pass-fail test, of course (do they leak, or not?), but all waders are made better with a reliable base layer. No gift expresses true love for the angler quite as well as some well-designed undergarments that will keep them thinking about casting, rather than the weather, especially in the early season. Cabela’s made the dream match by working with Icebreaker and bringing these Merino wool base layers to market. The warmth factor is tops. The wicking factor, and recovery from soaks, is great. They’re all I fish in when the snow flies. And of course, you can ski, hunt, and do many other things in them also. –K.D.
Copic Airbrush System
Whether you tie flies, make your own lures, or just want to touch up some of your battle-scarred baits, the Copic Airbrush System is the bomb. Airbrushes that require paint and compressors take skill, cost a lot of dough, and make a big mess. The Copic Airbrush uses compressed air cans and markers instead of paint, making control 100% easier and hindering paint-splattered walls. I have zero airbrushing skills, yet with a few Copic markers and a few pieces of mesh screen, I’ve already nailed down adding multi-colored scale patterns to my foam bass poppers and saltwater streamers. Of course, you can do a lot more than that, but it’s baby steps for me. –J.C.
Alert Stamping FTL 100 Light and Magnifier
You can’t go wrong by giving the dedicated fly tier a great lamp for the tying bench. The FTL 100 from Ohio-based Alert Stamping features both a 120 Lumen LED light and a 4-inch diameter magnifying glass. They both come on flexible arms that can be shifted into position, which are mounted on a heavy base. For tying flexibility and putting a reliable beam where it needs to be, the FTL 100 is as good or better than any light out there. –K.D.
Douglas Outdoors Travel Tying Station
Serious flycasters that tie their own bugs often pack a few materials, threads, and a travel vise just in case they need to whip up some fresh patterns on the road. Be honest, I really enjoy tying flies in motel rooms, and I’ve found it easier with a Travel Tying Station from Douglas. It’s a pretty small package, but it lets you conveniently tote more materials than you might fit in a pocket of your duffel bag. No need to pine over which two thread or marabou colors to take…just toss four or five of each in the box and go. The tool slots are a nice touch that stop you from losing another dubbing needle that rolled off the desk in your room while you were frantically packing. –J.C.
ThermaCELL Pro Flex Feet Warmers
Your angler friend or family member will appreciate most of all a gift that keeps their feet comfortable when they are doing the thing they love (fishing) in all seasons. Notice I did not say “makes feet hot.” Big difference there. These Feet Warmers are such that you don’t really notice a tingle or a burn; in fact you don’t really notice them at all. What you do notice is that you’re feet aren’t cold when you’re fishing. And that’s all that matters. Oh, and they don’t make your feet stinky or sweaty, which may, in turn, make these one of those “gifts that keep on giving…” They’re wireless, and the new models allow you to change batteries. –K.D.
Costa Hamlin (Realtree Xtra Camo Edition)
$200 and up; costadelmar.com
I can attest to the comfort of the new Hamlin frames from Costa, which were designed by legendary billfish captain Ron Hamlin. Wide lenses provide excellent eye coverage, the ear pieces are comfortable, and it’s tough to beat Costa’s proven polarization for spotting fish and bottom contours. Me? I go Johnny Cash style and rock Hamlins in black, but for all you anglers that think camo is a primary color, Costa has your back. Hamlin frames are now available in Realtree Xtra Camo. –J.C.
Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag
Most boat bags keep the contents dry with a heavy zipper. The problem with that system is that it makes getting in and out of the bag with one hand on the wheel a chore. With Simms’ new bag, you can leave the zipper unzipped and just rely on the unique magnetic buckle to keep the lid closed and the interior splash free. Pop the buckle with one hand, grab what you need, and then let the top drop. The buckle will automatically lock itself back in place. The Dry Creek is available in two sizes. –J.C.
Smith Dockside Polarized Sunglasses
$210 and up; smithoptics.com
If you have a big head, which sunglass companies eloquently categorize as “large fit” in their sizing charts, truth is, your options are pretty limited. You want glasses that wear comfortably in terms of lightness, and lack of pinch, but you also want them to block out peripheral glare when you’re staring down targets on the water. This new model from Smith is a godsend in that regard. They’re available in a number of lenses (tints) to match different fishing situations, but they’re a breakthrough in terms of “not knowing you’re even wearing them.” –K.D.
13 Fishing Concept Reel
13 Fishing hasn’t been in the game that long, but that doesn’t mean they’re not making reels that can run right alongside the brands you’ve trusted for years. Matter of fact, we were pretty blown away by their Concept C baitcaster during some testing this fall. With Airfoil Carbon side plates, 22 pounds of drag pressure, and what they call a “dead stop” anti-reverse bearing, this little cranker kicked serious bass butt in modern, hip style. I particularly liked the light, comfy, non-slip cork handles, which you don’t find on many baitcasters. Want to add a little custom bling to your Concept C? Check out 13 Fishing’s Trick Shop, where you can upgrade dial colors, handle colors, and more. –J.C.
Company 944 Fly Rod Travel Tube
This is a wildcard from an upstart company dealing in luxury-lifestyle fishing products. I usually don’t go for these sorts of things, but I have tested this travel tube. I’ve checked it through airports on its own; I’ve tucked it inside of checked luggage. I use it as a rod carrier in the back of my vehicle, and I even take in on the river. I like the fact that you can slide a few different rods in sleeves inside it. What’s more, I can stick reels, or fly boxes or even a sandwich, in the pocket of the canvas sheath. It’s more functional than you think at first glance. It’s actually a very classy way to carry your sticks. A serious golfer thinks about the bags he/she puts his/her clubs in. A serious angler should do the same. –K.D.
Hatch Outdoors 2-Plus Finatic Fly Reel
I wear my passion for Hatch reels on my sleeve: they have a sealed drag, they’re incredibly smooth on the start-up, they’re bomb-proof, and they look pretty dang cool hanging off the reel seat of any fly rod. This year, Hatch introduced a size that falls right in the honey zone of most light-tackle fly anglers. The 2-Plus is dainty and light, but beefy and reliable when you use it with any fiberglass or graphite rod in that #2-#4 weight zone. If you’re looking for a braking system to stop wild brookies, browns, or cutties, this is a cut above almost anything else out there. –K.D.
Cabela’s 15-Inch Commercial-Grade Vacuum Sealer
I know it’s not the cheapest vacuum sealer on the market, but if you’ve tried sealers available at K-Mart, you might have noticed some freezer burn on your fillets. I know I have, and fish is too precious to spoil at the hands of a sub-par sealer. This new model from Cabela’s is the real deal; it locks the meat down airtight like a true commercial sealer, yet it’s as easy to operate as those grocery store brands. Thanks to its large size, it can easily package whole fillets or multiple steaks. This machine has been helping me serve “fresh” tuna from the summer all fall. –J.C.
Scott Tidal Fly Rods
I hate how most saltwater fly rods have such a narrow performance window—to get them to really work, you need to be casting a certain distance with a certain type of fly. The Tidal solves that problem, and is one of the most versatile rods on the market today. It loads at 20 feet, and busts casts 70 feet or more. Moreover, it is meant to handle large and small flies. And because it has fewer fancy components, it costs a couple hundred bucks less than other high-end rods. It’s billed as a saltwater rod, but it is a perfect carp stick also. –K.D.
Sage Accel Fly Rods
The best fly rods of this year class weren’t made in the super-premium price range; the top engineering feats happened in that mid-plus price range, where some rod companies are making premium-performing rods for hundreds of dollars less. The Sage Accel is a rod we’d have all killed for eight years ago. Now, sure, you can find slicker components and edgier graphite-resin mixes. But you won’t find a smoother casting rod… not for this price, period. It’s an ideal holiday present for someone who wants one more line weight in the arsenal, or a rock-solid choice for an angler who is getting passionate about their casting. Medium-fast action, warrantee included. –K.D.