By Patrick Straub EBS Fishing Columnist
Are you dreading having to answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” Scratching your head about what to give? Swing for the fences with these homerun gift ideas, which can all be purchased or arranged locally.
Orvis Mirage Reel. The high-performance, large-arbor Mirage fly reel combines superior performance and durability. Using the same principles employed for fighter jet brakes, the carbon contact sheet and stainless drag drum gives this reel smooth, consistent and infinitely adjustable stopping power – from free spooling to a dead stop. The crew at Big Sky’s East Slope Outdoors describes these reels as, “One of our best sellers because it is just that good. It fishes well and looks sweet too.”
Patagonia Simple Fly Fishing Kit. This Simple Fly Fishing Kit includes a 10-foot 6-inch tenkara rod and everything you need to connect to the fly-fishing experience. At the heart of the kit is the book, “Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel,” the most comprehensive book available on the subject of simple fly fishing, and specifically the tenkara technique.
The Abel Nipper. Created out of anodized aluminum, and with jaws of premium stainless steel, the Abel Nipper is a long-standing staple on any gift list – it’s also the best nipper in the fly-fishing world. But at $50 for standard black, and up to $100 for artistic prints, such as a Derek DeYoung brown trout skin or skull-and-crossbones, a lot of folks suffer sticker shock. The angler in your life will cherish these because they’re unlikely to splurge on it themselves.
RL Winston Boron III LS Fly Rod. Montana-inspired and Montana-made, this new model from RL Winston is the best “all-arounder” rod to hit the market in years. Not too stiff and fast, and not too soft and slow, it’s clear the heart and soul of the Boron III LS lies in Montana trout streams. Delicate presentations, double-nymph rigs, and dragging streamers are all in this rod’s wheelhouse.
Simms Rogue Fleece Hoody. Looking like a professional fly fisher is easy, though sometimes feeling like it is tougher. But with this Bozeman-inspired Simms hoody, you’ll feel like a pro. This bad boy is equipped with weather-shielding attributes to soldier through the day, including a 100-percent polyester woven face backed with a water-shedding DWR finish and fleece lined hand-warmer pockets.
Redington’s Butterstick Fly Rod. This reasonably priced rod is perfect for someone who has every fly rod known to man. It has silky-smooth action – like butter, baby – allowing the angler to fully feel the casting stroke. Even with its Barry White smoothness, this rod can cut the wind. Plus it makes a Taylor Fork dink feel like a Missouri River bruiser.
Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots. Bozeman and Big Sky’s home water, the Gallatin River, is a minefield of slippery boulders. Ideal for our mountain streams, these boots have aluminum bars on the sole that help with traction on rocks. They also grip well on muddy trails and won’t accumulate snow. If you care about your angler not slipping and falling, treat them – and you – this holiday.
Sweetgrass Fly Rods. Authentic as it gets, these rods are designed and constructed by legendary builders, and are of heirloom quality. With over 120 years of collective rod-building experience, the Sweetgrass Rod team promises to build bamboo fly rods that are as special as they are a credit to the craft.
Instruction and knowledge. Money used for instruction is never misspent. Our area is home to fantastic guides and outfitters, fly tiers, guide schools and women’s fly-fishing schools. For anglers who live here, but don’t fish as much as they’d like, spending a day or two with a local guide, taking a class or a fly tying lesson gives them a valuable resource down the road.
As a kid, my parents always told me the gift-giving season wasn’t about my wants and needs – my personal joy was derived from giving to others, they said. As a lifelong angler, I can tell you that if you give any of these gifts this season, you and the angler in your life will be full in the joy department.
Pat Straub is the author of six books, including “The Frugal Fly Fisher,” “Montana On The Fly,” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Fly Fishing.” He and his wife own Gallatin River Guides in Big Sky and Pat operates the Montana Fishing Guide School and the Montana Women’s Fly Fishing School.