Fly fishers are a very particular bunch. The vast majority like what they like, and have what they need. When it comes to giving gifts this puts the non-fly fishing buyer in a quandary. You could ask for a specific list, and then just do the buying for them. Or you can hop on Amazon, type in “fly fishing,” and hope you don’t end up with something they’ll have to pretend they are happy to receive.
Giving gifts is supposed to be fun, meaningful, and thoughtful. Getting it right and seeing the recipient’s reaction of joy and surprise is great. There are some things that you can get a finicky fly fisher if you don’t fly fish and still get that kind of response. I’ve put together a list of some universal, high quality items that nearly every angler would enjoy using. Even in the chance that they already have it, a duplicate would probably be appreciated. Hopefully this will be a helpful way for you to get started shopping… or an opportunity to forward an article to give that certain someone a hint.
I haven’t received any compensation from any of the companies listed below. Additionally, there are dozens of other great companies that make and sell similar products that are worth checking out.
Flies from Postfly Buying flies for someone is a lot like buying them gourmet food. You might get them something they’d never buy for themselves, but they’ll inevitably end up using it. You could make your way to a fly shop and hope that whoever is working will take the time to ask all the pertinent questions, but even then you might not have all the answers. Postfly’s monthly service is a great option. Not only is there the fun of looking forward to a monthly surprise, but their product is top notch. You only need to know if your recipient likes to fish for trout, bass, steelhead, or one of two saltwater options (tying materials is also a choice). There are a lot of options for how much/how long to buy, but it boils down to one shipment ($15) or terms of three months ($41), six months ($77), or a year ($144). The flies are diverse, high quality, and accompanied by other various goodies any fisherman will enjoy and use.
Layers from Smartwool Getting socks and underwear for Christmas has been a comic trope for ages. To the contrary, fly fishers and outdoor enthusiasts in general have a real appreciation for socks and underwear. Smartwool is known widely for their socks, but they also make some of the best base layers out there. Combining natural fibers that have been proven for millennia with modern materials and technology, these are undies that will make the angler wonder why they haven’t been using them for years. A good pair of socks for use under waders or on the trail is the Hunt Extra Heavy Crew ($24). Something that will work for three seasons on the water and off is the Men’s PhD Light Zip T ($95).
Bottles from Hydro Flask “How much for a water bottle!?” That might be your first question. But rest assured, Hydro Flask is worth every penny if you or the person you are buying for likes keeping hot things hot and cold things cold. My favorite Hydro Flask anecdote comes from this past summer. I filled my bottle up with water from the fridge, eschewing ice. I left it on the seat of my car in the morning, with my car parked in direct sunlight for over six hours. When I went to take a drink, the lip of the bottle was almost too hot to put my mouth to – but the water was still cold. That made me a believer. I like the 24oz Narrow Mouth ($30) because it won’t splash when you sip, and it fits in virtually all cup holders. Some of the smaller sizes will fit in a vest, sling pack, or belt for use while fishing.
Versatile Storage from Vedavoo If not for the brand in question, this might be the riskiest gift on the list. The number of packs and accessories for fly fishers to choose from these days is ridiculous, with manufactures making adjustments and special features down to the nth degree. Realistically an angler could use a single pack more than any one particular fly rod, so getting it right is essential. Vedavoo gets it right. Simple, durable, and functional are the hallmarks of this company. Something like the TIghtlines Sling Pack ($109) might seem like an accessory or change of pace to a fly fisher’s normal pack, but using it a few times will earn it a place of prominence for quick trips and hikes into the backcountry. Smaller storage options, like the Pinch Pouch ($10-14) are incredibly versatile and will replace much less effective and cheaper options the angler is already using.
Something Lavish from Orvis Okay, this is the riskiest gift in the list. If the person you are shopping for is an avid fly fisherman who has everything, you could take a stab with one of the ideas above. But if you want to go for the gold and get them something that they might use for the rest of their life and potentially hand down to their kids, you could spend some extra money and pick something from Orvis’ “Unique Sporting Gifts” catalog. A handcrafted and personalized River Series Wooden Fly Box ($149-259) is as functional as it is beautiful, and would be perfectly suited for use on the stream or to display “trophy” flies. A knife like the Helle Harding ($149) is more distinguished than a traditional pocket knife, and is a serviceable and comfortable blade to carry on the water for any and all uses. Sure, there are a myriad of small name and boutique artisans that make things like this. I say track them down and give them a shot. The good thing about Orvis is that, with the exception of some personalized items, they’ll exchange the gift if the recipient is less than enthused to receive something like a Handcarved Fence-Post Duck ($119-229).
Good luck, and feel free to contact me with any questions. I hope that the giving and receiving is indeed a special part of your Christmas this year.