12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 12

Give the Gift of a Guided Trip

Stefan 2We’ve saved perhaps our best gift for last. It’s a gift that would be truly appreciated by any fly fishing angler, beginner, intermediate, or expert. It’s the gift of a guided day of fishing on a stream whether local or distant. And most guided trips are for 2 anglers, so invite yourself along for the ride! How’s that for a gift that gives back?

My wife used to think that guided fishing trips were only for the most experienced anglers. That is, until she went on one herself. In truth, they’re great for anglers of all abilities, even those who have never fly fished before. The majority of guides are excellent instructors who love to spread their enthusiasm for the sport to anyone who’s brave enough to give it a try. Never cast a fly rod? No matter. Before you shove off from the boat ramp, the guide will have you casting well enough to have a fighting chance at catching some fish. An intermediate or expert angler? The guide will provide tips and helpful suggestions to improve your casting and fishing prowess.

Sam 4But what if you don’t live near a fly fishing mecca? Why not plan a fishing trip? Or “piggyback” a day of fishing on a family vacation. For example, take a day off from your visit to Yellowstone National Park and let us float the whole family down the Yellowstone River. Kids as young as 8 or 10 can learn to cast well enough to catch fish, and even the younger ones often enjoy the boat ride. Maybe make it a half day and ask your guide to pull into a couple of beaches where the little ones can search for pretty rocks while the adults do a little wade fishing. Fun for everyone!

If you are lucky enough to live near good fly fishing, a guided trip is a great gift for a distant relative or friend. Give them a little extra incentive to come for a visit.

Yes, guide trips are relatively expensive. The cost varies a great deal depending on location, but here in Montana a full day trip for 1 or 2 anglers goes for around $500. A guide day is very taxing on the guide, something I didn’t fully appreciate until I began guiding myself. When you also figure in that most guides have to make all of their money for the year in a period of just a few months, it helps to put that cost in perspective. When you’re pricing out a trip, be sure to ask whether the flies you’ll use and any equipment you’ll need are included in the trip cost; it varies between different fly shops and outfitters.

Not ready to settle on a date to make a reservation? No worries. Simply buy a gift card for the amount of a guided trip and let the recipient make his or her own plans. Do warn them that things can get busy and fill up during the prime fishing season, so a reservation should be made as soon as possible.

Well, that’s it! 12 days of fly fishing gift ideas for anglers of all abilities and gift givers on any budget. Hope we’ve been helpful. We’ve certainly had a lot of fun putting together this gift guide. Happy holidays from all of us here at Sweetwater Fly Shop!

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 11

Disposable Items

We’ve discussed a lot of possible gift ideas so far, but what if you’re still just not sure what to get. Maybe you don’t know the best size for shirts, shoes, waders, or boots. Or maybe you’re afraid that you’ll buy your special angler a rod or reel that they already have.

I have a suggestion that is a sure-fire hit. The one thing you can purchase that every fly fisher definitely needs; items they surely want. In fact, they already have most of these things, yet these items are so important that you can never really have enough. Most of them are inexpensive and can be bundled into a big present or sparsely gathered and placed in a stocking.

What are these magical presents? They are disposable items–leaders, tippets, split shot, indicators, floatant, and flies. Items that you must have to go fishing, no matter what. These items get used-up. They get lost in fish, trees, or riverbeds. Some of them get old and should be replaced each season. But every fisherman would be glad to see them under the tree. They’re going to have to buy them anyway.

hmscuo7dd2mk7lnnaoeeLets’ start with leaders and tippets. If you’re buying presents for a trout fisherman, you absolutely cannot go wrong with 7.5′ and 9′ 5x leaders. They are the standard used by trout fisherman around the world.

You can pair those leaders with some spools of tippet. 4, 5, and 6x tippet should suffice. There are two types of tippet: nylon and fluorocarbon. You can always get one of each type, in each size. It’ll get used.

Split shot, little weights that attach to the leader for nymph fishing, are in nearly every trout fisherman’s vest. So are strike indicators (fly fishing’s bobbers). So is a bottle of Gink dry fly floatant and a powder desiccant like Frogs Fanny.

Yeager's 409

Yeager’s 409

Flies are always an excellent idea. This is one item that a fly angler has to have, above all others, unless they are really good at lassoing fish with just a leader. If they are, please call me. I’d really like to watch that.

Streamers, dry flies, wet flies, and nymphs–most anglers fish with all of them at some point during the season. If you’re not sure what flies to get, give us a call. We’d be happy to put together a fly package from just a few, to a whole bunch, of patterns.

We can make fly selections that come inexpensively in a little plastic cup, or ones that look very fancy in neat, soldier-like rows within a fancy fly box. And there are lots of options between those extremes. We’ll have a pretty good idea of what flies to choose just by telling us where your present-receiver plans to fish.

So spend a little, or spend a lot, but if you want to pick one type of present that’s sure to get a smile on Christmas morning, then go with the disposables. Your significant-flyfishing-other will remember you all year long as they’re using your gifts!

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 10

The Humble Gift Card

Fly fishers can be a difficult group to shop for. The longer they’ve been in the sport, the more gear they’re likely to have. Which is not to say that they don’t want more (they really, really do), just that knowing what they might lack can be tough. Maybe you’ve been lucky; maybe they’ve been dropping hints for the last couple of months. But even then, getting just the right gift can be a minefield. Say they want a new rod. What weight? Do they prefer a fast-action rod, or one that’s got a little more flex? Do they like a softer tip on their rod, or not? Which rod would fit best with their particular casting style? You get the picture.

Genuine Brown Trout Skin (ok, not really)

Genuine Brown Trout Skin (ok, not really)

Don’t throw up your hands in frustration. There’s nothing wrong with resorting to the confused shopper’s best friend, the gift card. Yes, it’s fun to have something tangible to unwrap on Christmas morning. And most fly shops will happily make exchanges if you didn’t choose just the right gift. But why not give your angler the enjoyment of shopping for exactly what they want the most. Your average angler is going to jump at the chance to hang out in a fly shop and peruse all of the goods, especially with “money” to burn in their pocket.

Beginner, intermediate, expert. Any fly fisher would appreciate the thoughtful present of a gift card at his or her favorite fly shop.

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 9

Lust-After Gifts

Looking for a gift for an angler who’s been very, very good? Want to really up the ante in your gift giving? The recipient won’t be able to thank you enough if you pop for one of the following ideas.

Sage One

Sage One

High-end fly rods are an experienced angler’s dream gift. There’s nothing quite like unwrapping one of these beautiful fishing tools. You’re not going to get off cheap; top-end rods retail right around $800. As with more modestly-priced rods, there are a number of great options on the market. Three we like a lot are the Sage One, the Scott Radian, and the Winston BIIIx. All are fast-action rods, built with the best components out there. Buying a rod for the frequent spring creek or small water angler? Consider Sage’s slow-action Circa. Or look into the hand-crafted beauty of a classic bamboo rod, such as those from Sweetgrass. Saltwater anglers would love to receive the aptly named Sage Salt. Want to give the ultimate? How about the Sage One Elite ($1295), which sports a titanium reel seat and a spare tip.

Tibor Signature

Tibor Signature

We already mentioned a few high-end options in our post about reels, such as the Hatch Finatic, the Abel Super Series, and the Ross F1. A gift of any of those would be met with great fanfare. Another reel that would excite your recipient, particularly if they’re fishing saltwater, is the Tibor Signature ($685-$865, depending on size). It can be engraved with the recipient’s name, as well as with various fish species (at an extra charge). New this year is a trout-sized (5-6 weight) version. Yum!

Simms G4Z Waders

Simms G4Z Waders

Do they need a new pair of waders? The Simms G4Zs ($799.95) are the ultimate pair of waders on the market. They’re durable, highly breathable, and come with all the bells and whistles. Of note is the extra-long waterproof zipper, which eases the often-difficult task of donning and removing waders (and is mighty handy when seeking quick relief).

Original art work, a new drift boat, a first-edition copy of the angler’s favorite classic fishing book….

Big Alaska 'Bows Like Streamers

Big Alaska ‘Bows Like Streamers!

Or why not send your loved one (and perhaps yourself as well) on the fishing trip of a lifetime? Maybe to someplace warm this winter, such as Belize, the Bahamas, or Brazil. Or next summer, to Alaska or, to really splurge, to Mongolia to fish for the world’s largest trout species, the taimen. Give the gift of life-long fishing memories!

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 8

Give the Gift of Conservation

Trout depend on cold, clear, clean water to survive and thrive. In many, if not most, watersheds, those vital characteristics are constantly under threat. As anglers, we must remain vigilant if we wish our children and grandchildren to have the same (or better) fishing opportunities as we have enjoyed. Consider giving the gift of stewardship. Most anglers would appreciate a gift membership in a fisheries conservation organization or a donation made on their behalf.

430525_164447230333542_770104657_nTrout Unlimited is the most obvious choice for a national coldwater fisheries conservation organization. Give a gift membership. Membership includes a subscription to Trout magazine, an annual calendar, and membership in the nearest local chapter, which allows the recipient to participate in informational meetings and volunteer opportunities such as river cleanups. While you’re at it, get yourself a membership and plan to attend chapter events with the gift recipient. Is your

Not a fan of TU? There are a number of other organizations, both local and national, that focus either directly or indirectly on fisheries conservation. The International Federation of Fly Fishers, for example, has conservation as part of its mission. Do an internet search or ask other anglers, and you might turn up an organization that is fighting for the conservation of a local watershed or fish species.

NoPebbleMine_From Vector RGB.websitePrefer to make a donation in the recipient’s behalf? Again, there are numerous organizations that could use financial assistance, ranging from TU to the fight against the Pebble Mine in Alaska to local conservation groups. Choose one that the recipient would support and send them a card detailing the contribution and its intent. Give by giving back!

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 7

Give the Gift of (Fly Fishing) Art

Rainbow Royal Wulff by Derek DeYoung

Rainbow Royal Wulff by Derek DeYoung

Not all gifts for anglers need to be for use on the stream (or even particularly useful). Fly fishing is an inherently beautiful activity. The quarry are themselves pleasing to the eye (especially to the angler), fly fishing tends to be pursued in attractive places, and the act of casting a fly is beautiful to watch. Not surprisingly, artists of all ilks, painters, photographers, even sculptors, have been drawn to fishing and fish as a subject matter. And most anglers would be thrilled to have an image of their beloved sport to hang on the wall.

Yellowstone-RiverNot all fly shops carry art, but some do. It’s worth a visit to your favorite shop to see if they have any paintings or photos on the walls. If they do, those images are more than likely to be from local artists and to portray fishing in the area. You might be able to find a portrayal of your recipient’s favorite stream or fish species. Another place to look would be galleries in areas where fly fishing is a big deal. Most galleries and artists these days have at least some of their work displayed online. A web search for art or photography in the local (or not-so-local) fly fishing mecca may turn up some gems. Looking for a memento of last summer’s fly fishing trip? Try calling a fly shop in that region and ask them if they can refer you to an artist or gallery in the area. It might take some leg work to find the perfect art to grace your wall, but it’s well worth the effort.

Original art (especially paintings) is, of course, pretty pricey. But most painters do prints of some sort for the more budget-minded. Some of these, such as prints on canvas, can look surprisingly similar to an original painting. Other types of prints, such as prints on metal, may have aesthetic qualities that you don’t find in the original. Signed and numbered prints can themselves be priced in the multiple hundreds of dollars. Still too steep for your budget? Some paintings and photographs can be found in a poster format. A framed poster can still look pretty classy.

OBOOK_ABOOK_109660Visual art isn’t your only option. Fly fishing has also drawn the literary sort. The essay, in particular, has been used by many fine authors to explore the thoughtful side of fly fishing. There are a plethora of books of essays in print that would be appreciated by the reading angler. Authors to look for range from the classic (Hemingway, Sparse Grey Hackle) to the more contemporary (John Gierach, Ted Leeson, Nick Lyons). These are only a sampling. Your local fly shop may carry some favorite titles, and a search on Amazon is sure to turn up something that your angler hasn’t yet read. In addition to essays, you may discover everything from short stories to mystery novels. Something for every reader.

Have a favorite fly fishing artist or author? Please post a comment to help others find the perfect artistic gift!

12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas – Sweaty Waders Style – Day 6

A Beginner’s “Kit”

Does your gift recipient already have a rod, reel, and line? That’s not quite all they’ll need to get started in our great sport. Or maybe you’re looking for a lower-priced gift or some stocking stuffers for a beginner or intermediate angler. Read on. Today we’ll point out some of the essential gear that every fly angler needs. Think of it as a beginner’s fly fishing kit, in both senses of the word. Some of these gifts would also be great gifts for a more advanced angler who already has the basics. We’ll try to point some of those out as we go.

OBOOK_DOUGS_104248Let’s get started with instruction. Nothing is quite as good as a patient personal instructor, whether that person is a parent, a fishing buddy, or a paid instructor (more on that in a later post). But books and DVDs are great augmenters to such instruction. There are a number of very good instruction books out there for the beginning angler, including manuals by Orvis and L.L. Bean. The Curtis Creek Manifesto is one book that is surprisingly good in spite of, or perhaps because of, its comic-book format. It goes over all of the basics in a humorous presentation. Want something more serious and in-depth. We really like An Introduction to Fly Fishing for Trout, by Mark D. Williams and W. Chad McPhail. It’ll get the starting fly fisher on the water quickly, but also has great tips for the more advanced angler. Books can help the beginner learn to cast, but DVDs might be even better for that part of the learning process, as they visually demonstrate the necessary techniques. Joan Wulff’s Dynamics of Fly Casting is one such DVD, but there are numerous other good ones out there.

Royal Wulff

Royal Wulff

In order to fly fish, you need flies! And no angler can have too many, so flies make a great gift for even the most advanced angler. Pick out a good selection for the local area, or, if you’re not confident at doing that, have a fly shop employee do the selecting. Give them a number or a dollar value and let them choose some favorites. That’s why they earn the big bucks! Present the flies in a nice fly box and you’ve got yourself a gift that will be appreciated by any angler.

Abel Nippers

Abel Nippers

A few small accessories are also helpful, or even necessary, to fly fish successfully. Leaders and tippet, nippers, forceps, dry fly floatant, strike indicators, split shot, and the lot. Don’t know what any of these are? Again, feel free to go into your local fly shop and ask them to point you in the right direction. Or, again, you could give the fly shop employee a dollar value and ask them to put together a beginner’s package. Looking for a good stocking stuffer for an avid angler? Consider getting them a more expensive version of a basic tool than the recipient would purchase for himself or herself. For example, Abel’s nippers ($50-60) are sturdy, finely machined, look sweet (they come in multiple colors), and can cleanly cut even the thickest tippet material. Functional and pretty; better than the glorified fingernail clippers that most anglers use.

Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack

Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack

Finally, your angler will need something to carry all of this stuff. The classic fly fishing vest used to be the thing, but most anglers these days opt for a chest or hip pack. A beginner won’t have accumulated quite as much equipment or a bunch of boxes of flies. So he or she could go with a relatively simple, smaller pack such as Fishpond’s Flint Hills Lumbar Pack ($54.95). Someone who has been fishing for a while will probably need more room. Fishpond’s Waterdance Guide Pack (99.95) is one of our favorites. Waterproof packs are very nice and keep your gear dry in the rain (or during a short unplanned swim). Consider Sage’s Technical Small Waist Pack ($150; or its large cousin, $250), as well as waterproof packs by Fishpond, Simms, and Patagonia.

Catch you tomorrow (ouch!).

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