By Patrick Straub EBS Fishing Columnist
If you’re reading this, you have made it through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the college football playoff selection. If you’re like me during this time of year, finding a few hours to hit the stream is akin to the alignment of the collective stars—the weather needs to cooperate with temps in the 30s; holiday parties and performances take over the calendar; and the anticipation of a winter on the slopes is a good reason to make a few turns on the mountain.
With a full platter of family, fishing and skiing, finding time to shop is only one more layer to my holiday sandwich that is about to topple over. Always one to take one for the team, and to make you or the angler in your life happy this season, here’s my list of the year’s best gifts:
Yeti Hopper Flip 12. Since Yeti’s inception in 2006, they’ve been known for the best coolers on the planet. With the Hopper Flip 12 you have the best gift on the planet. It’s a leakproof, tough-as-nails, carry-the-day soft cooler. Like the original Hopper, the Hopper Flip 12 can withstand serious abuse in the field, even with everyday use. Its wide mouth opening makes for easy loading and access to your food and drinks and its compact, cubed body allows for ultimate portability, never slowing you down. And it fits nicely under the tree.
Sage X. In fly fishing, Sage is synonymous with innovation. Their rod designers pride themselves in using technology to create the finest fly rods made. The Sage X solidifies their reputation as the makers of amazing tools that will help you catch more fish. The magic of the Sage X is how light it feels, how easy it is to cast, and how dosh garn far it allows you to cast. Whether it’s trout in Montana or Belizean bonefish, the Sage X is one of the rare products that comes along and truly improves your skills the moment you buy it.
Fitz OTC sock. If you care about your angler, you want them to be warm and dry. Start with their feet. This over-the-calf wader sock comforts the entire lower leg with super soft Merino wool and keeps it warm in ice cold waters. Best of all? Pull them up once and they’ll stay up all day.
Clic magnetic reading glasses. As a rookie fly shop staffer back in the early 90s, I snickered at my boss as he put on his readers to tie a size 16 on 5X. Fast-forward 20-plus years and now I’m the one using readers. A few years ago I started using Clic’s and have been thankful ever since.
Orvis Hydros SL reel. Orvis has been innovating reels for over 50 years. Enter the new Hydros SL. This reel is a great value with performance to match, and from a company with strong ties to conservation. This reel delivers a 12 percent increase in line retrieval rate, has a narrow spool to eliminate line stacking, and offers increased backing capacity. To top it off, it has a fully sealed drag mechanism, which means it’s good to go for fishing the salt.
Simms Bounty Hunter roller luggage. Montana winters can be long. As much as we love winter here in Big Sky, it is sometimes nice to get away. Be sure to have one of the Simms Bounty Hunter rolling bags with you. They come in two sizes: The 100, which weighs in at 6,102 cubic inches and measures 30 inches tall, 18 wide and 14 inches deep; and the 2,746-cubic-inch Carry-On Roller, which clocks in at 22 inches tall,14 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
RL Winston Air fly rod. Winston rods are made in Montana, which is a unique state. It’s fitting that rods made here are as unique as Montana is. Lighter and more accurate than a Boron III X, especially with 30- to 40–foot casts, the Winston Air will delight any Winston fan. If you think you need to cast further, consider another rod. If you like to buy Montanan and enjoy fishing at close ranges—feeling each move of a hooked fish through the rod and down into the handle—then buy this new Winston rod for yourself or the angler in your life.
The holidays come only once a year. Let’s hope you get out to fish more than once a year, and chances are good that if you live in our fishy corner of Montana you do. Take the guesswork out of holiday shopping for the angler in your life and visit your local fly shop where you can find these products.
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 he operates Montana Fishing Outfitters with a partner.