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The Eddy Line: The best angler’s wish list, ever

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By Patrick Straub Explore Big Sky Fishing Columnist

The day after Thanksgiving, I sat down with my 3-year-old daughter to help her write a letter to Santa. I had just returned from fishing the Gallatin River where the weather had changed from beautiful to windy and snowy in a matter of minutes. I’ve been fishing in Montana for nearly 30 years and one might think I’d have everything I needed to guard me from the elements. But that day I wanted the latest wind-stopping and outerwear technology, and I didn’t have it.

As my daughter rattled off her wish list, things like a pink pony and a unicorn – the unicorn because the pink pony might get lonely – it inspired me. If a 3 year old can swing for the fences, why can’t grown-ups? Whether you’re reading this looking for gift ideas or hoping to receive some of these products, here’s a gift list every angler will cherish this holiday season.

Yeti cooler. A cooler is an often overlooked part of the gear arsenal. For a long time many of us suffered through routine cooler malfunctions: latches breaking, tops caving in, drain holes snapping. With a Yeti cooler those worries are a thing of the past. The founders of Yeti, two hardcore, outdoors-loving brothers, make the best coolers on the planet. But with this technology comes a hefty price tag, making it hard for many folks to justify spending several hundred dollars on a cooler. Most anglers, whether they openly admit it or not, want a Yeti. Yes, it’s a spendy gift, but surprise someone this holiday season with a Yeti cooler and you can ride out the next several gift-giving events with socks, ties and fruitcakes.

Orvis Helios 2, R.L. Winston Boron LS, or Sage Method fly rods. There are fly rods and then there are these three fly rods. Orvis, R.L. Winston and Sage are dedicated to making and refining some of the best fly rods on the planet. Each of these rods offers the angler in your life the ability to fish with the confidence of knowing they hold in their hand a rod made with the latest technology and one that is revered industry-wide. Each rod, offered in a variety of lengths and line weights, is made in the U.S., and the R.L. Winston Boron LS is made in Montana. If you’re unsure of what to purchase, visit any of our top-rated, local fly shops and they’ll steer you in the right direction.

The Abel Nipper. Before you can bring any fish to hand, you must tie a fly to the end of the tippet. During that process – and before, if tippet needs to be added to your line – you have to tie a knot and clip the extra line. Anglers who love to give their dentist even more money use their teeth, but most of us use nippers. The Abel Nipper, created out of anodized aluminum and with jaws of premium stainless steel, is the best nipper in the fly fishing world. But the hefty price causes a lot of folks to suffer from sticker shock. The angler in your life will cherish these because you can bet they aren’t going to splurge on it themselves.

Simms Montana Wool Fleece. Inspired by our cold winters, Simms created the Montana Wool Fleece lineup. This line of fleece clothing is deserving of the “best gift ever” moniker because the wool is sourced in Montana and the garments are made in state. They offer three styles in a half-zip long-sleeved top, as well as pants. The half-zip can be worn under a jacket for warmth but is stylish enough to be worn on its own. Your angler can sport his new clothing with pride knowing the clothes on his back are 100 percent Montanan.

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots. You want your angler to return home safe and injury free, correct? Many of our local streams, including Big Sky’s Gallatin River, are rocky and not easily waded. In the past, anglers fumbled their way along a river’s rocky banks, cautiously thinking about each step. Enter these wading boots. Ideal for our mountain streams, the Foot Tractors have aluminum bars on the sole. The bars are just hard enough to cut through algae and slime, yet soft enough to conform to rock surfaces. They also grip well on muddy trails and won’t accumulate snow. If you care about your angler not slipping and falling, treat them this holiday. Their price tag is worth it for peace of mind.

Bozeman Reel Company reel. These reels are designed and machined in Bozeman, and the guys behind the company are passionate about quality and functionality. Inspired by our local waters, these reels are the perfect addition to the discerning angler’s quarry. They offer two models, the RS and the SC. The RS is more practical whereas the SC is more traditional, yet both reels can stand up to Montana-sized abuse. Local guys making a product meant to be used locally. Winner, winner…

Buying gifts for the angler in your life can be challenging because you may think they have everything already, or perhaps the luxurious items are too costly. But if you want to ensure smiles this holiday, any of these gifts are foolproof.

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 with a partner operates Montana Fishing Outfitters.

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