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Updated Oct 31, 2022 4:30 PM
The holidays are here, and you’re tasked with buying a gift for someone who enjoys fly fishing. Fly fishing gifts are easy, right? While someone having a clear-cut passion like fly fishing can seem like a blessing when picking out a gift, it can quickly turn into a messy pile of embarrassing assumptions and friendly nods, followed by the hasty use of a gift receipt.
Buying the perfect fly fishing gift is a challenge because the simple things can quickly turn complex. A new rod is always good, right? But wait, should it be a 5 or 6 weight? Fresh or saltwater? When you start getting into the specifics of fishing gear, the difficulties of picking the right option become obvious in a hurry.
The goal of this fly fishing gift guide is to avoid those headaches by avoiding anything technical or gear specific. I selected the items in this guide to be general: things that any fly angler would appreciate, regardless of fishing style, region, or technique. It’s also important to consider things that someone may not ever buy for themselves, but would still greatly appreciate having.
With those factors in mind, here is a list of things that will make your favorite fly angler false cast with joy.
This one falls squarely in the “things all angles should have, but probably don’t” category. Proper fly line maintenance is a critical part of extending the life and usability of any fly line, yet most fly anglers rarely (if ever) take the time to clean their line. It’s not a flashy or fun part of the sport, and therefore can be easily forgotten in favor of other more aesthetically pleasing things. However, make no mistake, anyone who fly fishes regularly will appreciate a fly line cleaning kit as a fly fishing gift. Having a proper cleaning kit makes it easier to manage the task of cleaning those expensive fly lines we all love to abuse.
I know, I know. A new pair of socks is basically the universal metaphor for “bad gift.” However, if the person receiving them is a fly angler who walks miles in waders and stands for hours in freezing cold water, a quality pair of socks are something to cherish. My two favorite pairs of wool blend socks are over a decade old and have seen some unspeakably cold and wet conditions, but they are prized possessions for providing warmth and comfort in the most uncomfortable of situations. There are a lot of good options when it comes to the best socks, but I prefer the Simms Merino Midweight OTC Sock. They’re a good combination of warming insulation and lightweight wicking material, and ideal for a long day in waders.
The Nomad landing net has become ubiquitous in the fly fishing scene, and for good reason. They come in a wide range of styles and sizes that fit just about any technique or species an angler can target. They’re buoyant and incredibly light, while also being durable and capable of handling abuse. Strung with high quality rubber mesh, these nets are the gold standard for most fly angles. Unfortunately, they can also be quite expensive, averaging around $200. They can be a tough purchase to justify for a fly angler on a budget, but most angles would be ecstatic to receive one as a fly fishing gift.
If you’re looking to get a child their first fly rod look no further than the White River Fly Shop Cricket Fly Rod. This 8-foot, 5-weight rod costs about $50 and takes down into two pieces. It’s graphite construction keeps the weight down to help young anglers focus on casting.
It was recently tested by Outdoor Life contributor, Christine Peterson, with the help of her daughter. You can learn more about the rod by reading Peterson’s full review.
Peterson’s 8-year-old daughter testing out the White River Fly Shop Cricket Fly Rod.
Everyone will crack up when these fish flip flops are unwrapped. They come in colors to match common fish species, but you can’t go wrong with brook trout or green (largemouth bass).
We recently tested the best saltwater fly rods and while the Zane Pro wasn’t our best overall pick it was one of our favorite rods, and it’s my choice for the best to give as a gift. The reason why it makes a great gift is the rod’s presentation: it comes in a beautiful metal rod tube and high-quality rod bag. It’s also beautifully finished and casts well.
One thing that all fly angles have in common is the need for good fly storage. While any old fly box will work, it’s nice to have something quality. The Tacky Pescador is a silicone box that comes in a variety of sizes, but the key factor that separates it from other options is the latchless waterproof design. Other latchless fly boxes are great but tend to leak and have a poor seal should the box be submerged for any length of time. On the other hand, most waterproof fly boxes have a clunky latch system that can be bulky and annoying to fumble with on the water. The Tacky Pescador solves both those problems by having a clean, latchless design that’s also impressively waterproof.
If the person you’re buying for does any cold weather fishing, there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate a new pair of gloves. It can be challenging to find a decent pair of gloves that allow for both the dexterity required to tie on a fly or handle line, while also keeping your fingers warm. With that in mind, I prefer the foldover mitt design of the Simms Freestone gloves. Having the ability to expose the fingers when necessary while keeping them crucially warm throughout a cold day can make all the difference in someone’s experience on the water.
Every fly angler is familiar with the ever-present hassle of dealing with trash on the water. Even the most responsible angles can still have a difficult time figuring out where to jam the loose tag bits of leader or material that are a constant presence during a day on the water. The Fishpond Piopod (PIO stands for “Pack It Out”) helps solve some of that issue by providing an easy, portable container to stuff those annoying items of trash into. It’s a small container conveniently that attaches to a belt or pack, with an innovative lid that makes for easy, quick disposal of garbage. Not only does it allow the angler to pack their own trash out, it provides a way to clean up other items of garbage they may find on the water.
This may seem like it’s reaching into “gag gift” territory, but there isn’t a fly angler around who doesn’t know the painful stinch of well-worn waders, wading boots, or boat shoes. After all, even the best fly fishing waders will eventually get stinky.
The Loon Outdoors Fresh Pants spray is specifically designed for killing the odor causing bacteria that grows in waders, and it’s something that most fly angles would appreciate (whether they know it or not). While gifting an odor killing spray might elicit a sarcastic laugh or two at first, it’s a sure bet that the recipient will be grateful for it the next time they peel their grimy, sweat-soaked wading booties off.
It’s an incredibly simple concept, but it’s also one of the most practical fly fishing accessories around. As someone who regularly jams flies into hats, pockets, rearview mirrors, or just about any other soft material within reach, this product speaks directly to angles like me. The Fly Caddy is essentially an EVA foam patch on a small plastic platform with a clasp on the back. This allows it to be easily attached to a hat, belt, or pocket, and provides a perfect solution for on-the-go fly storage. It also comes with a small, adhesive backed stand that can be placed on any surface (think cooler, dashboard, or kayak) that the angler may want to use for quick access fly storage. This makes it extremely portable and will help save an angler from ruining their favorite hat or the expensive marine mat on a kayak or boat.
Not only is the Fly Caddy an innovative and useful product, Atollas donates proceeds from their sales to support 1% for the Planet. So, your purchase helps an angler stay organized and helps the planet.
We’ve included a number of items for the cold weather angler on this list, so here’s one for warm water folks. Long days in the mangroves or on the flats can mean a lot of exposure to heat and sun, and this means proper attire is critical. The Columbia PFG Terminal Deflector Hoodie has long been my go-to shirt for long summer days on the water. The deflector material does a great job at reflecting sunlight and keeping you cool, and the shirt also has UPF 50 sun protection. Lastly, the built in hoodie and neck gaiter provide complete face and head coverage, while doing a better job of staying in place than some other performance fishing hoodies on the market. These shirts are the ultimate in comfort and sun protection on the water.
If you’re looking for the best fly fishing vest, consider buying a sling pack instead. Fly angles are using these packs more often because it’s a convenient way to carry their gear. Given their popularity, no list of fly fishing would be complete without at least one pack.
The Simms Freestone sling pack is the ultimate all-in-one pack for a day on the water. Including several levels of storage for every conceivable tool or item an angler may need to carry with them, this pack is the most comprehensive on the market that still allows for a degree of comfort when hiking, wading, or casting. Along with multiple water resistant storage areas, the Freestone Sling Pack also includes a built-in tippet caddy and net sheath, which are slick additions and help make this pack the ultimate on-the-water tote for any fly angler.
While we are trying to avoid gear specific gifts, it’s important to include at least one complete fly outfit for those who may be looking to introduce someone to fly fishing. Redington has long excelled at making quality entry level fly gear for beginning angles, and the Crosswater is no exception. It includes one of the best fly rods and best fly reels for people getting started in fly fishing.
The Crosswater 5 weight setup provides a quality well-rounded option at a reasonable price for those looking to get someone into the sport. It’s a rod and reel combo that will be at home on just about any stream, river, or lake across the country, and will allow a beginner to experience the fun of fly fishing without the pain of dealing with inadequate gear.
Last, But Not Least: A Gift Card to a Local Fly Shop
You may not know the technical specs or exact details of what your angler needs, but you know who does? The folks at the local fly shop most likely. These days, it’s more important than ever to support the small local shops that help make fly fishing the special thing that it is. There’s no better way to do that than to give them business, and a gift card is a great way to support the shop without having to needle through every single fly bin or rod rack in search of the perfect gift. Fly anglers can be incredibly picky and specific about what gear they need and give a fishing gift that allows the angler to explore and pick out their own is a solid option. Whether you go with a gift card or any of the above items, it’s a great idea to check in with the local shop and see what they have on the shelves.