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Angling for a Gift

Black Friday. A day when we eat everything we ate on Thanksgiving, only in one sandwich. It is also a day when door buster-crazed, credit card-wielding Americans frantically spend like their lives depend on it. I suppose the need for calories after such retail battles necessitates a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce/gravy hoagie.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for buying Christmas gifts. In fact, I’ve given some specific hints for the angler on your list. However, the personal touch that can make gift giving so special is often lacking these days.

If you are a fly angler, consider taking someone fishing as part of a gift this year. This doesn’t mean they tag along while you fish. Actually take them fishing. It doesn’t matter if you’re not some fishing phenom. Just take them out on the water, show them how to cast, tie their knots for them, and share your appreciation for the sport. If you make them wake up early, buy breakfast. Preferably something with bacon in it.

If you’ve always thought that you could be a guide, here is your chance. Really do it up. Take them to your most reliable spot where they’ll have the best chance to get into fish. Explain the “why” of what you’re having them do, and not just the “how.” Consider leaving your rod in the car to start. (This will also help you appreciate how hard guiding really can be: “cast there… no, where I’m pointing… follow my finger… my other finger!”)

All of this might sound a little hokey or corny. Like the fly fishing version of a popsicle stick picture frame or a coupon book for chores around the house. To the contrary, it doesn’t mean that you skimp on getting them a gift that they can open. Buy them that jacket, and then include a note saying they can wear it when you hike up for brookies in the spring. Get them the camera, and preload it with pictures of your boat. If they already fish, buy them the flies that they’ll need for the outing you have planned (plus then they don’t lose all yours in the bushes).

Older anglers can do this for young people. In a plugged-in culture, it could be a really unique and memorable gift. And then do them the favor of taking their picture so they can post it all over social media. Buying a kid a fly rod is great, but taking them out and showing them what it can do is better. This whole experience/gift idea is perfect for young people to give as well. Generally, teens don’t have money. But those who are passionate about fishing can treat a family member or friend to a great day on the water. If done well, it can be a very thoughtful, memorable, and enjoyable gift – regardless of how many fish are caught.

Somewhere along the line, the concept of a “gift” has become inseparably linked to a tangible object. When we are simply trying to cross names off a Christmas list, we become preoccupied with getting a “thing” and not getting the right thing. Sometimes the right thing isn’t a thing at all. If you fish, you’ve probably had someone spend time with you. That period might have been more valuable than books, videos, and all other resources combined. At the same time, the personal touch and relational aspect undoubtedly stands out as well. Maybe even more. Not to get all sentimental, but isn’t that what gift giving is all about? Give it a shot.

The worst thing that can happen is that you get to go fishing.

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