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The Perfect, Nontraditional Fly Fishing Gift


Before you start copying and pasting Amazon links and fly shop web pages, hear me out.

It is wish list season. The holidays are approaching. Christmas music and decor are taking over like some abominable mistletoe/tinsel/kudzu hybrid. Everyone from your spouse to your parents to your kids to your aunt Myrtle wants to know what you want for a present.

Yes, a gift card to Cabela’s is easy and practical. Sure, the reel that you hand pick and they buy will make you happy. Of course, you could get all of the fish socks that Wingo Belts sells. (Wait… actually, that might be a pretty great gift… we’ll talk about that later.)

Or, you could  ask for something better. Something nontraditional. Something that requires a little effort on the gift-giver’s part, and a little bit of thinking on your’s. Incidentally, this is what gift-giving looked like before the dawn of the 1,000 page Sears catalog. How novel!

Try this: “I want to go fishing with you.”

“Wait,” you say. “That goes against all of the common courtesies of impersonal and predetermined yuletide transactions. I live in a happy world where we essentially exchange currency, with  the occasional Apple product sprinkled in.”

That is a valid point. But just sit back, grab a delicious pitcher of eggnog, and go on a little trip down memory lane with me.

Ready? Okay. Name a Christmas present that you got last year. I’m guessing that unless you got a Lexus with a giant bow on the roof or your wife surprised you with triplet onesies, you’re drawing a blank. It’s fine. You’re not heartless, you’re just a westernized materialist consumer. That is one step up from heartless.

See why “I want to go fishing with you” might not be  such a bad idea?

How does it work? To be honest, this kind of request might send your loved one frantically pawing for their wallet, willing to throw any and all large denominations of legal tender at you in order to  pacify your wild-eyed, nonconformist request. So you’ll have to steer them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Why don’t you pay for a guide on (local river) for us in the spring?
  • How about you find a cabin that we can do a night in near  (favorite lake)?
  • Just drive and buy breakfast while we head up to (nearby mountains) once it warms up a bit.

And this is important:

  • I can help plan if you’d like.

Offer suggestions on locations, guides, seasons, your availability, etc. if they want it. But if they want to take it and run with it, let them. Remember, it is their gift to you. If they’re not an angler, either figure out a way for them to enjoy where you’ll be or take the time to help them figure out enough of fly fishing to have fun. Plus, you get to spend time with them. You know, what a big part of this holiday business is all about?

Come Christmas morning, you’ll know something is up. All the other adults will have standard department store or little gift card-sized boxes. Your present will be an envelope, tucked away and saved for last. There will be real anticipation, because it is different. It is special. The holiday spirit is strong with this one! Sure, you won’t get to play with your gift all afternoon. But you’re an adult, so suck it up; at this point the rest of Christmas is about  putting stickers on Batman playsets and eating lots of cookies. You’ll get to think about your trip, plan your trip, and think about planning your trip for months.

And I guarantee you’ll remember it come next Christmas.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Matthew! My wife and I always make time put aside a few bucks to take that trip when the weather finally gets nice. It gives us something to look forward to during those long cold winter months. Memories are better than a gift card to smart phone.

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