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.
Let’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. 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.
In order to fly fish, you need flies! And no angler can have too many, so flies make a great gift for eventhe 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.
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 ($70-100) 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.
Finally, your angler will need something to carry all of this stuff. The classic fly fishing vest used to be
the thing, and some still prefer them, but many 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 Blue River Chest/Lumbar Pack ($89.95). 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. Fly fishing vests range from the minimal, but well-built Redington Clark Fork Mesh Vest ($39.95), to those with tons of room for multiple fly boxes and accessories, like the Simms G3 Guide Vest ($229.95).
Catch you tomorrow (ouch!).