Buying gifts for people who fish can be difficult and cause panic attacks on an epic scale. There are a million things to buy considering all the rods, reels, line, lures, clips, swivels, waders, boots, and the list goes on and on. You could end up in the funny farm if you think about it too much or spend countless hours on the internet trying to come up with a handful of things they might want, need, or don't know they need yet. Here are some tips on what to buy that most fishermen need, but equally important here are the things you shouldn't buy.
1. Essentials: There are some basic items that no matter what, everyone who fishes will need. It doesn't matter if they are fly fishermen in Montana or going on a trip to Nicaragua for Tarpon, he or she will need these few simple items. You can't go wrong if you gift these little gadgets.
Do Buy Pliers: There are many types of pliers and some are better for freshwater and others better for saltwater. In general, anyone would love to get a pair of Calcutta lightweight aluminum pliers regardless of where they fish. Some have replaceable cutting blades while others are fixed and would need to be sharpened. We prefer ones with soft rubber handles for freshwater but they are fine in saltwater applications as well.
Shimano Brutas steel pliers are good for freshwater lakes or streams. They are durable and have a corrosion resistant finish. However these steel pliers are not good for saltwater because they rust easily and will be trash in just a few weeks. As with any plier, oiling is key to keep them working good. Some pliers say they will cut braided line, but we have found that most do not work well. We recommend special braid cutters for that.
Don't Buy Gimmicks: We've all seen those infomercials with a new lure that catches everything no matter what body of water is being fished. They are so convincing with all the pro staff guys and they show them hooking into fish left and right. Don't fall into their trap, they might catch fish, but it's meant to catch the fishermen. I don't care how many states it's illegal in, don't buy it.
Do Buy Braid Cutters: Braid is difficult to cut with normal pliers or scissors. Actually, scissors can work well but they usually don't work well for too long. Daiwa makes special scissors that are made for braid that work very well because of fine tolerances and teeth on the blade. They are stainless steel and made of Japanese high quality steel.
Boomerang Co. makes a great braid cutter and will slice through it with ease every time. They come with stainless steel teeth and screws so the won't rust out easily. The cutting blades have been extended so the recipient can reach down inside spools, cut really close to the knot and just make it easier for low light conditions. They also come with a split ring and retractable tether so they can be clipped on vests, shirts, pants, bags, or any other convenient spot.
Don't Buy Lures: Unless you have a list from the giftee, don't buy lures. There are so many different kinds of fish and ways to fish that you will never get it right. What we use in Southern California may not work in Texas and vice versa. Chances are if you buy lures as a gift, they will end up as a wind chime at best or thrown in the garbage at worst.
Everyone Needs Split Ring Pliers: These are a must have for anyone who fishes. The little rings that hold on hooks are a pain in the neck to open and close. Often times fish will bend out your hook or the split ring and they need to be changed. Here at the shop, we like to change hooks and split rings out to stronger ones and the Texas Tackle Split Ring Pliers are the best we've seen. This patented design opens split rings with ease and won't bend them too much to where they have lost their shape.
2. Clothing: Winter or summer, we are out in the elements and the right clothes can make the difference between a comfortable trip and a miserable trip. Have clothes that breathe in the summer and wick away moisture is key to staying cool even when it's HOT! Winter brings on frigid temperatures but there is no way we're staying home. Gloves, hats, and hoodies are a must but they need to allow us to fish at the same time.
Keep Cool for Summer: For the past few years I've been wearing Buff's when I go outside. I actually wear it year round when I'm fishing but it's great in the summer. A Buff is a thin, breathable, sun protectant scarf type thing that blocks up to 95% of the suns UV rays. It protects my face, neck, and ears from looking like a Canadian stranded in the Sahara Desert. It's not only great for blocking the suns rays, but it keeps my hat on when we are moving at high speeds. It's also great for keeping bugs out of my nose, ears, and mouth.
Stay Warm for Winter: When it's cold and we know the fish are biting, we have to have gloves on. If we can't feel our hands we can't fish right. Buff also makes gloves and they are designed for fishing. The tip of two fingers are removed so that a knot can still be tied or a lure can be changed without having to take your gloves off. We know, not revolutionary, but it helps. They have leather on the palm and the fingers but have a thinner material on the back of the hand so that they are not cumbersome. After we have them on for a while, we forget we're even wearing them.
We don't always wear a hoodie, but when we do it's a G. Loomis hoodie. Yeah I know, overused line but I still like it. These are quality just like all G. Loomis products. They have a very soft feel to them with high quality zippers on the pockets. The cord that runs through the hood is strong so it won't break off inside. We hate it when that happens. I'm not sure how to get the old cord out and put the new cord in. Usually it sits in my closet for the next 4 years until my wife throws it out.
3. Tackle Storage: Everyone who fishes has way too much stuff and we all need somewhere to put it all. We often tell ourselves that we don't need any more stuff, but somehow we can't help ourselves from buying that new lure or trying out a new technique that yes, requires more stuff. It's an addiction and yes we need help from a professional, but in the mean time we need somewhere to put all our new goodies.
Shimano Baraja Tackle Binders are great for storing hooks, plastic worms, weights, swimbaits, you name it. They make 3 sizes depending on what needs to be stored. We like the smaller one for hooks and weights, the medium size for worms, small swimbaits, and other plastics, and the larger one for bulky items like large swimbaits, pliers, trolling rigs, or anything that takes up a lot of space.
These quality binders come with very thick zip-lock bags. These bags aren't thin like sandwich bags, they are meant to store tackle, hooks, etc, so they will stand the abuse of fishermen. The zipper that closes the bag is also high quality and won't give out in one season. We like using binders instead of boxes because it keeps everything organized. Often times we have one binder that has weights, hooks, and worms for a certain technique like drop shot. That way I'm not having to go to one box for hooks and another box for worms. Plano boxes still have their place and we have more boxes than binders in our boat, but binders still have an important role in keeping all my crap(it's a love hate relationship) where I can find it.
For shore fishermen, the Shimano Blackmoon Backpack is the best we've ever seen. This backpack is made for fishing and has some serious thought into it. I've seen lots of packs that claim they are for fishing but it seems like the people who designed them haven't fished a day in their life. This pack is streamlined without a bunch of unnecessary stuff hanging off of it.
This simple lightweight design has an internal frame so it won't collapse when a box is taken out. It has storage for fishing line, pliers, binders, and even has a built in rain fly to keep everything from getting wet and rusting. The ergonomic straps keep you comfortable if it's worm for long periods. Also, keep the Shimano Borona Tackle Bag in mind. Shimano always makes high quality items at a fair price that we use ourselves.
Stay away from buying very specific bags and boxes. There are some very specific boxes and bags that are made for a very narrow type of fishing. For instance, Shimano makes a bag called they Bluewave Surf Fishing Bag. As you can tell, this bag is made for surf fishing only. Although nice, 99% of people who fish will find little or no use for this bag. If you know the person your buying the gift for is a surf fisher, than this may be the ticket.
Hopefully this helps you buy smarter for your loved one who fishes. We know it can be daunting to buy that avid fisherman a cool gift and we don't think you can go wrong with any one of these suggestions. If you are still too chicken to buy a tangible gift, there is always a gift card.
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