Salomone: Stocking stuffers, holiday saviors and last-minute guarantees
How to get shop for the fly fisherman on your list
‘Tis the season for gift giving and time is short for shopping. Purchasing a fishing gift for the angler in your life can be a daunting task. Fly shops are packed full of trinkets and tools. Between tying supplies, fly-vest accessories and even the flies, there are a lot of little things in fly fishing. That fact alone can be the key to stuffing a stocking full of inexpensive necessities every fly fisher will embrace.
True, shopping for fishing gear may not rank high on the holiday shopping spree. Angling purchases can be confusing and cramp shopping excursions. To alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding the immense amount of choices found in fly shops, I’m going to provide a selection of inexpensive fly-fishing gifts.
These gifts shouldn’t breach the $25 mark, making them excellent choices for kids looking to get dad a little something or moms in need of an unexpected surprise hanging by the fire.
A half-dozen flies in a puck is an easy win for any fly angler. Dry flies like the Elk Hair Caddis are like popcorn at the movie theater: you might not be hungry, but you can smell the fresh popped corn and the sultry scent of butter lingers in the air — so of course you eat a piece…then another and another. Well, that’s how it goes for Elk Hair Caddis on the Eagle River; the trout eat one, then another and another. Flies like that deserve to be purchased by the half-dozen or more. Every angler goes through Elk Hairs, whether lost in a tree branch, frazzled from trout teeth or fumbled into the current from clumsy fingers. It’s the fly that we all just need a few more in the box.
A great way to contain and protect your valuable flies is with a quality fly box like the Tacky fly box. Tacky boxes are good for flies of all sorts but not large bushy flies. This is the ideal box for jig-style, Euro-nymphs as the hooks are always barbless, which makes holding purchase in a traditional foam panel impossible. Heavy beads on the heads of this nymph-style tug at the fly when bounced about during a day of fishing and become loose. The Tacky boxes hold the hooks pinched in the slot securely, preventing loss or inadvertent dropping when you open your box. The most expensive in my list for this article, the Tacky boxes hover around the $25 mark.
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All fly fishers experience conditions where a strike indicator is necessary for success. Nymphing can save the day or be the main game. Either way, a quality strike indicator is needed. Airlock makes the best strike indicator in a variety of sizes. The adjustability Airlocks provide gives an angler the flexibility to fish varying depth conditions easily and quickly. Airlock indicators are made out of biodegradable material, making lost or dropped indicators a nonissue. A three-pack for eight dollars is a steal.
For those anglers who desire the dry fly, a bottle or two of Loon’s Aquel keeps flies up on the surface. Aquel is the type of consumable accessory that fly anglers use repeatedly. Loon is the industry leader when it comes to environmentally friendly angling. Loon also makes a winter fishing aid called Stanley’s Ice Off paste. This environmentally friendly product reduces the accumulation of ice on rod guides during frigid angling conditions. Both products list for under $8.
I can’t iterate how important the next product is to our local angling given the hazardous summer conditions our rivers have experienced in recent years. A water thermometer is a necessity for angling longevity on our local waters. A thermometer dictates appropriate angling conditions. When water temperatures spike in the warm weather months, anglers need to give the trout a break. Fifteen dollars can purchase a quality river thermometer made by Orvis or Umpqua.
Still at a loss for ideas or overwhelmed with choices? A gift card from a favorite fly shop fits in a stocking, gives your angler the opportunity to choose and extends the holiday season into the new year when they use the gift card. An inexpensive gift found in a stocking is a little something special to make your angler smile.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River Valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in numerous magazines and websites including; Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly mag, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow labrador retrievers.