The Fly Fisherman’s Gift Guide

Rod, reel, and other gear and accessories any fly angler would love to receive this holiday

Shopping for the long-rodder in your life? There’s a good chance he or she is already set on lines and flies, so if you need a few out-of-box gift ideas for the fly guy or gal on your list, here you go. We’ve got you covered from stopping a heavy striper, to increasing your odds on a midnight mouse adventure, to pulling your raft or boat across some nasty roads.—Joe Cermele

Ross Reels Animas

Ross Reels Animas
Ross Reels Animas • Price: $295Ross Reels

The Animas has been part of the Ross line up for years, and older models certainly have their cult fans. But 2019’s updated version has taken this brand’s staple up a level, delivering some smart, fresh upgrades with a price that’s on par for a solid, quality reel these days. I’ve been using a 7-weight since the summer, primarily for smallmouth bass. It’s extremely light thanks to an intricately machined spool and frame aimed at reducing weight, while the bell-shaped spool helps lay line and backing evenly. The sealed drag is super tough yet smooth, and can definitely play in the salt. I even enjoyed minor touches like the machined canvas handle, which allows me to keep my grip even with wet, slimy fingers.—J.C.

Orvis PRO Insulated Fishing Hoody

Orvis PRO Insulated Fishing Hoody
Orvis PRO Insulated Fishing Hoody • Price: $229Orvis

No, it's definitely not your average pullover. Orvis went to great lengths to create a simple, utilitarian fishing jacket that combines comfort and function. Features like 80g PrimaLoft insulation keeps your core warm while regulating excess heat and moisture through specially designed side panels. The outer layer is made of Ultralight 20D stretch nylon ripstop that's treated with a coating to thwart puncturing, wind, and moisture. Best of all, this "hoody" weighs nil, and despite its insulation, it's not bulky, making it packable enough to stash in a backpack or small compartment in the boat.—J.C.

Simms G4 Pro Waders

Simms G4 Pro Waders
Simms G4 Pro Waders • Price: $749.95Simms

Always pushing the envelope to improve and dominate the wading category, Simms' new G4 Pro waders are built for the guy that is too busy fishing to worry about leaks, and fishes so much that comfort, strength, and maneuverability are of the utmost importance. In other words, these are for the guy "getting after it," not the dude wading the local creek four times a season. A 3-layer Gore-Tex upper marries with a 5-layer Gore-Tex lower to create the toughest pair of waders on the market, yet one with better ease of motion and stretch than any other past G series. Anatomically engineered stocking feet ramp up comfort even further, while tweaks like the reach-through microfleece-lined hand warmer pocket take these waders over the top in the upgrades department.—J.C.

Costa Del Mar Broadbill polarized sunglasses

Costa Broadbill polarized sunglasses
Costa Del Mar Broadbill polarized sunglasses • Price: $269Costa

A fresh offering in the Costa Del Mar line for 2019, Broadbill frames are ideal for the guy like me that has a large cranium but doesn't want glasses that look like a snorkeling mask. These shades offer just the right amount of wrap-around to keep the light out, helping that proven Costa 580 polarization do its thing. I wore these in blue mirror offshore all summer, and was getting a bead on mahi-mahi swimming 20 feet below the boat with ease. I'm also not particularly careful with my glasses, and I can tell you the composite frames are built to take a beating and won't warp or stretch on you easily.—J.C.

Headspin Convertible Light System

Headspin Convertible Light System
Headspin Convertible Light System • Price: $199.99Headspin

Sometimes you just need to shed a little light on a fishy situation. That's why most anglers (like me) have headlamps, flashlights, and work lights of all shapes and sizes scattered around our garages and basements. And half the time, when I find the one I need, the batteries are toast. The Headspin Convertible Light System solves all these problems. This USB and wall-mount rechargeable cube light comes with a headband, flashlight handle, and a handlebar/rail bracket, allowing you to quickly snap it on and off of different mounts as your needs change. You can also change the mode from spotlight, to flood light, to flash. I love that I can charge it in the truck on the way to the river, and quickly switch from my head to a flashlight when we're looking for the take-out ramp after a nighttime mousing session.—J.C.

Cooper Discoverer A/T3 LT

Cooper Discoverer A/T3 LT
Cooper Discoverer A/T3 LT • Price: Starting at $165Cooper Tires

Tires may seem like an out-of-place entry in a fly gear roundup, but not if you're hitting the back roads, and especially if you happen to be pulling a drift boat or raft. I do all the aforementioned, and the Discoverer AT3 LTs on my truck have made it easier. Designed specifically to hinder shredding during heavy use on gravelly or rocky roads, these tires shine when towing. The tread is designed to help your vehicle stop shorter on wet roads, and with just the right amount of "grab," I've pulled my drift boat out of more than a few sticky, muddy situations.—J.C.

St. Croix Imperial Salt

St. Croix Imperial Salt
St. Croix Imperial Salt • Price: Starting at $350St. Croix

I got the chance to play with the new Imperial Salt at ICAST in July 2019. Subsequently, this rod took the award for best new fly rod at the show. While not available just yet, they can be pre-ordered, and I firmly believe these sticks will be game changers in the salt (or even muskie) scene. Available in weights 7 through 12, I was really impressed by the lightness, yet they still offered the ability to load short and fire almost the entire line in the casting pool at the show. The Imperial series is built on St. Croix's SC3 carbon blanks, and features like the PVD coating stripping and snake guides make this rod ready for saltiest torture you can dish. While the rod has plenty of backbone, it's really designed to be a caster, and I can tell you, it lays line like a dream.—J.C.

Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman
Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman • Price: Starting at $900Old Town

Built on the platform of the super successful Discovery 119 solo canoe, this canoe/kayak hybrid works because it’s a little more canoe than kayak. A lowered profile makes getting in and out a snap, and the extremely comfortable kayak seat and foot pegs give the boat a stable feel underway. Thanks to integrated rod holders and a bow thwart that doubles as an accessory rail—ready to accept fish finders and a GPS—there’s still plenty of uncluttered room forward and aft for gear and tackle bag storage. It’s not billed as a boat to fish from while standing, but I could stand in a farm pond and flycast just fine. Bonus points: It’s a wicked one-man duck stalker.—T. Edward Nickens

The History of Fly-Fishing in 50 Flies

The History of Fly Fishing in Fifty Flies
The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies • Price: $16Harry N. Abrams

Some anglers new to fly fishing might not realize it, but the sport originated some 2,000 years ago, and while today's modern rods, reels, lines, and other gear doesn't exactly resemble the equipment of the past, the sport's premise—to fool fish using hooks, feathers, and hair—has essentially remained the same. To help long rodders wrap their heads around just how far fly fishing has advanced, author Ian Whitelaw selected 50 fly patterns to represent the historical strides made to shape fly fishing into what it is today. The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies is loaded with both photographs and illustrations of fly patterns that originated in Europe, Scotland, and other countries, and includes detailed accounts of the influence each had on the sport. It's a terrific book for anyone interested in fly-fishing's roots, or any fly tier looking for inspiration on designing the next great fly pattern.—Ben Romans

Hardy Zephrus Fly Rod

Hardy Zephrus Fly Rod
Hardy Zephrus Fly Rod • Price: $475 to $780Hardy

Hardy is one of the oldest brands in fly fishing. Founded by a gunsmith in 1872 and originally a firearms manufacturer, the company shifted its focus and began producing fishing equipment by the end of the century and can likely take credit for inspiring most modern takes on fly rod and reel designs. One of the company's most recent offerings is the Zephrus lineup. Available in both freshwater and saltwater models, these rods are light, beautifully finished, and a pleasure to cast. I fished a 5-weight model for the first time in 2016 and it has been my favorite trout rod ever since. More recently, I used a 9- and 11-weight to battle muskie in Wisconsin. The 9-weight made casting those large, bulky, air-resistant flies a breeze, and the outfitter liked the 11-weight so much he kept it. If you really want to wow your favorite fly angler Christmas morning, pair a Zephrus rod with one of the company's Ultralite ASR reels. They make line swaps a cinch, and the reel weight balances perfectly with the corresponding Zephrus rod. —B.R.

Hobie Mirage Passport 12

Hobie Mirage Passport 12
Hobie Mirage Passport 12 • Price: $1,600Hobie

I never thought I’d say this, but there’s definitely something to be said for fishing from a kayak. Until recently, I always assumed fishing from a kayak was a chore, and that the ratio of paddling versus fishing time was definitely weighted towards the paddling side. But I subscribe to the old adage, “don’t knock it till you try it.” To my surprise, I had a blast. So I gave it another shot, and was pleased with the same result. The fact is that so far kayak fishing has facilitated an intimate, fun, unique DIY approach to some of my oldest honey holes on the river. Not only do kayaks draft well in shallow water, there’s no vibration from a trolling motor tapping into a fish’s lateral lines, and quite honestly, it’s nice to take a break from the noise and fumes the old outboard kicks out. But if you or another angler you know wants to get serious in a kayak, look no farther than the pedal-drive system on vessels like Hobie’s Mirage Passport 12. While the gears and guts of this kayak make it one of the heavier models on the market, the oscillating fins propel the craft faster than is possible with a paddle, and since they’re leg-powered, your hands are free to fish. Equipped with a comfortable seat, rod holders, accessory mounts, sealed storage compartments, and various bungee straps, the Passport 12 is ready to fish the moment it lands on someone’s front porch (make Amazon do the heavy lifting). This is the winning ticket for anyone seriously interested in accessing water that’s unreachable in large boats, or simply prefer the sight and sound of songbirds and surface-feeding fish over the roar of an outboard at first light. —B.R.