Pulling into the drive, he notices an elongated cardboard box leaning against his front door. A rush of euphoria hits him, a feeling akin to the christmas mornings of his youth.
He tosses his keys on the table and furiously stirs through kitchen drawers, looking for any sharp object capable of freeing the contents from their cardboard confines.
His hands tremble with anticipation as he uses a steak knife to slice into the brown packing tape. A blizzard of foam packing peanuts engulf the living room until he emerges victorious, thrusting a shiny new fly rod tube into the air.
“It’s finally mine,” he exclaims and begins to connect each rod section in the living room as if trout would start rising from the carpet at any second.
We all know this trout junkie. He or she may be hesitant to admit it, but that new jacket they have been eyeballing at the fly shop all summer, or the fancy rod they’ve been dreaming about elicits childlike excitement.
If you have a trout bum in your life and you want to bring out their inner child this holiday season, these are the gifts you should put under the tree, and if you’re the one with the worn out waders, or the floorboard covered in fly-shop cups and empty cans, then this is the stuff you should be dropping hints about this holiday season.
New this year are complete tying kits from Hareline Dubbin that contain everything you need to get started tying your own flies. These kits are available at most fly shops and retailers that carry Hareline products. Each kit includes 60 premium materials, a multitude of hooks, beads, glue, and all the other components you need to get started. Also included with every kit is a tying guide that takes you step-by-step through the top 20 patterns for trout fishing, as well as an introduction on tying tools and how to use them properly. For those wanting to jump into tying, I don’t know of any better way to get all that you need in one box, and at the level of quality that Hareline Dubbin products are known for.
Ergonomic, comfortable and efficient, the Mountain River Guide keeps all the essentials within in my grasp . It’s particularly handy when rowing a drift-boat or while bank fishing without a fully loaded sling pack. I keep mine on at all time and make sure its stocked with 4 or 5 spools of tippet, a bottle of floatant, snips and a small fly box full of tiny dries.
The hydros SL combines a powerful sealed drag with the fine craftsmanship Orvis is known for to offer anglers one of the best reels on the market at the $200 price point. My favorite thing about this reel is how smoothly its drag engages—for the geeks out there, that’s called startup inertia. The drag smoothness that you’ll find when using a Hydros SL is preferable to reels with a drag that turns on sharply after a fish takes your fly, the latter scenario often leading to break offs and temper tantrums. You simply can’t go wrong by putting a Hydros SL of any size variation under the tree this Christmas. Starting at $200
“The Rod You Will Eventually Own” is the company slogan, and as an angler who has been fortunate enough to cast many brands and styles of rods over the years, I can say that this is one of my favorite rods that I have ever used. Thomas and Thomas uses proprietary Strato Therm resin technology in these rods that provides incredible strength and vibration dampening. This technology also produces an extremely light and ultra-responsive rod. The power and line control you get in your cast are unbelievable considering just how lightweight and effortless the rod feels in hand. The Avantt itself is both beautiful and durable, finished in matte blue with blue wraps and white accents, it has titanium frame ceramic stripping guides, a blue anodized aluminum reel seat engraved with the T&T logo, and a premium flor-grade cork handle. Available in 3-7wt and at multiple lengths this is a high-end freshwater rod that should be high atop many fishy Christmas lists. $825
The world’s most portable high capacity cooler, the Ice Mule Pro is an item I won’t get into the boat without. The small size and light weight of the cooler make it as easy to grab as an extra pair of shoes when you run out the door in a hurry. With heavy-duty inner and outer skin, seams rated to 65 pounds, and a padded, ventilated backpack strap system, it takes all the difficulty out of hauling what many consider their most essential items—craft beer and food. $119.95
Fishponds Nomad series of nets has been around for a while, and there’s a reason for that. They are some of the best nets on the market. The nets are made using a mixture of carbon fiber and fiberglass to give anglers an extremely durable yet lightweight net. All of Fishponds nets are waterproof, UV protected, and they float. They are coated with a rubberized paint that makes for an easy grip when wet, and the handles have a scale for deciphering how many inches you need to exaggerate in the story you tell your buddies. In a drift boat the long handle net is light enough that someone can easily land a fish for their passengers without even taking both hands off the oars. $199.95
Some people use a plastic storage bin, some people use a duffel bag, others have kitted out the bed of their truck with drawers and compartments. Personally, I live in an apartment, and multiple trips ensue when transporting all of my gear upstairs, in between vehicles, and in and out of the boat. I needed a bag that could hold waders, rods, reels, boots, tackle, lunch, extra layers, etc. all with one easy carry. This bag also had to be durable enough to take on a long day hike or an overnighter. Well, I found that in Umpqua Tongass 5500 waterproof bag. This 90 liter, watertight, roll top gear bag will hold all of your gear and then some with a nice sleek design that you can carry as a duffle bag or a backpack. This pack makes an awesome gift for any serious fly fishermen constantly on the move. $169.99
Fall and winter make for chilly days on the water and sometimes nothing is more functional than a good vest to keep your core warm while allowing your arms to move freely. The Howler Bros Merlin vest keeps you warm on the water with its Primaloft One insulation, and looking good at the bar with its shoulder yoke design that’s a throwback to old-school shooting vests. Not only does the vest look good and keep you warm, but it’s extremely functional with two huge side pockets, and an internal pocket that you can use to stuff the vest inside itself for storage or to toss in a backpack. Water resistant polyester micro rip-stop will also help keep you dry when you are splashing around trying to get that trout in the net. $115
Everyone needs a good breathable rain jacket. In the winter time I usually layer a rain jacket over a light down under my waders to stay warm. I love the riffle jacket from Simms for just that. I was able to test out the camouflage version of this jacket which has a very cool pattern embedded with the Simms trout logo that you can only notice up close. This jacket is lightweight, breathable, and unbelievably weather resistant thanks to Toray fabric throughout. The jacket design is streamlined and clean to avoid any catch points for getting caught up in your own line. The Riffle also features hand warmer side pockets that allows access to your waders beneath without having to unzip your jacket. The huge chest pockets on the front are a nice feature that allow you to carry all kinds of odds and ends or a large fly box easily, and the Simms logo fly patch on the chest is a nice touch to hold onto flies that you change out on the water. $150
Hands down, the best flannel shirt I have ever owned. A blend of wool and polyester products optimized for outdoors use make up this heavy flannel shirt that uses moisture wicking technology keeping you comfortable and dry all day rowing a boat in the wind or heading out to grab dinner. The two front chest pockets are big enough to hold a fly box or an iPhone, and only add to the appeal of this stylish and functional flannel. $100
For the die-hards out there who hit the water no matter the conditions, or the guy wanting to stay toasty with some serious style this winter, the Downstream is the ultimate down outer layer. Composed of 750-fill equivalent water repellent down blended with Primaloft Gold synthetic insulation, the Downstream is on the top tier of cold and wet weather protection. This jacket has plenty of pockets for storage or to warm your hands, as well as a 3 point adjustable hood for when the weather gets really crazy. Simms designed this thing with functionality, comfort, and mobility in mind and you will appreciate it on a day of frozen guides and numb toes. $350
Fall and winter months equate to shorter days and longer nights so it’s valuable to have a light source with you just in case you tell yourself “last cast” too many times, or end up underestimating how long the float is going to take. The newly redesigned Storm Headlamp from Black Diamond is the perfect addition to an emergency kit because of its waterproof and dustproof housing, and at max 250 lumens this headlamp provides plenty of wide spectrum light to get the boat on the trailer in the dark. For the wade angler the headlamp is also nice in that it has a green night vision mode as to not alert the big browns while you tie on that mouse pattern, and plenty of illuminating power and battery life to get you back to the car from even the furthest of honey holes. $50
For an alternative to the big names in the industry (RIO and SA) one needs to look no further than ARC fishing products. The small lineup of products is described by Travis Thompson; the co-founder of ARC, as “simplicity at its finest, but not at the sacrifice of technology” and I would have to agree with him. One pull of the camo multi-color nylon tippet and I could already see what he meant. This proprietary multi-colored line pattern produces maximum invisibility in a number of fishing conditions (think Maxima supergreen) while maintaining suppleness for techy presentations and low stretch for improved feel on the hook set. ARC is also the first company to produce fluorocarbon-coated nylon tippet. While a little stiffer than typical tippet ‘ARC Flourocoat has the strength for fishing around trees and brush without having to worry about breaking off on a big brown that runs you through an abrasive environment. The spools are eye appealing as well with different color bands for size and type identification.
I know there are many options for keeping things hot and cold out there but Yeti remains the top name in their industry. I was able to test out the 32oz Rambler, and found that the Rambler was able to keep my coffee hot in for hours on a November day in Montana. For example, I left my coffee cup in my truck while I went in to eat at a local diner. When I came out after eating a meal with friends the coffee was still as warm as it was when I had initially left my home. The Rambler holds ice just as well in the summer and is an awesome stocking stuffer for any fishermen on the go.
A solid pair of gloves are a must-have for your gear quiver when hitting the river in the fall and winter months. The Simms Ex-Stream half finger glove is the perfect glove to keep in your pack for when things get a little blustery. Powered by Polartech Powershield Pro these gloves provide ample warmth all while maintaining a breathability that wicks moisture away from a day of handling big browns. The fingerless option is my favorite because I prefer to always have my fingers available for knot tying and line management, but the ExStream line of gloves also comes in a full finger, and fold-over mitten version for the die-hards.
Use this like any other soap – with a splash of water (warm water and our scrub brush is best). The essential-oil based formula is actually LIFTING that familiar fish smell away, not masking it.
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