How to shop for the angler in your life

by Joe Douglas, Black Dog Custom Rods, Wilbur, WA (208-699-5893)

Joe DouglasThe gift giving season is rapidly approaching, and you don’t know how to shop for the angler in your life…here are a few hints:

• Don’t worry…whether you go to a local store, an online store, a local rod builder, or a major supplier, you will be able to find help in the form of customer service folks!. Expect them to ask you a number of questions to narrow down the possibilities.
• Before you begin your search, you will need to do some information gathering. The best way to do this is to talk to people you know about their fishing habits and needs in order to get a better handle on what to purchase.
• People who fish a lot have favorite rods, reels, lures, spots to fish, flies, baits, fishing line types, hats, etc. People who fish can be quite protective of their best “secrets” but they do tend to pass these secrets along to their “trusted” friends, family and colleagues.
• Once you have a basic understanding of what might be good choices for your gifts, go forth and shop!

If purchasing a rod, there are literally millions of components that are utilized in making fishing rods: guides, tiptops, reel seats, handles, weight of rod, length of rod, etc. There are wooden rods, bamboo rods, metal rods, fiberglass rods, carbon fiber rods, and various varieties of these rods in each category. If this becomes overwhelming, contact me and I will help you sort through the maze and choose the best rod for your angler.

Typically, if a rod is what you decide to gift, look for one with a rating that matches the type of fish the new owner usually fishes for; and, adequate guides to properly hook and play the fish. You can normally rely on the store staff to steer you to a suitable rod as long as you know what it will be used for and some idea of the type and size of the fish expected.

Fishing is not just about fishing rods. The reel, the line, the terminal tackle, and the bait selected all play a part in successful fishing. Most likely your recipient of the gift has multiple reels, extra line(s), terminal tackle, and a variety of bait choices. However, he or she wants more.

• No one who fishes will ever refuse a new lure, spinner, or fly to add to their arsenal. They will never refuse copies of their favorite lures, spinners, or flies. If you fish, you lose baits…it happens. Adding new supplies is always welcome.
• Baits come in many different forms. If you want to gift a small group of baits the typical store has individual, or small packages of things like:

Lures – Plastic, Wooden, Metal, and Soft products that mimic real fish or other food
Spinners – Metal wire and blade products that spin and attract fish
Flies – Handtied imitations of live insects and other foods – fly rods use to attract fish
Plastic worms – Typically used for fishing along or just above the lake/river bottom

• Reels tend to correspond to the type of rod they fit onto and support. Many who fish do prefer one type of reel over other types on their favorite rod(s). Typical reel types include:

Casting Rod – Usually a crank reel that mounts on the top side of the rod and has control finger beneath
Spinning Rod – Typically a “Hang down” reel with a crank on the un derside of the rod
Fly Rod – Usually a smaller reel that “hangs down” and has a crank on the underside of the rod
Spey Rod – Similar to a Fly Rod only much longer and heavier in weight, crank on the underside
Surf Rod – Similar to Spinning Rod only longer and heavier, reel and crank on the underside

There are many variations of reels. It is necessary that you chose one that fits the right type of rod and utilizes the appropriate size of the reel itself for the rod.

• Line -This may or may not come with a reel. You will want a line that works well with the reel. Typically, the packaging that comes with the reel will have one or more choices of line that will work well with the reel. The store staff may help you put the line on the reel; if not contact me and I will help.
• Terminal tackle – Most who fish will have a supply of things necessary to connect the line to the bait. Typically, this consists of swivels with and without a spring clip to hold the Hook, Spinner, Fly….or, a Leader extension to carry a lighter weight Fly or Bait. No one who fishes will ever refuse more terminal gear. This is the portion of the fishing line that takes all of the weight when battling a fish. Never hurts to have plenty on hand.

Safety Gear is another option for your gift. For boaters, a better life vest is a good investment. A new net for retrieving the fish is a good idea. Maybe an updated Live Well would be good. Perhaps waders, hat, creel, fish scale, knife, some shoes for wading, a new automatic boat loader, a casting deck, or a new cooler. Once you get in the stores, pay attention to the many other items that could make for a merry Christmas.

Certainly, this is not an all-encompassing review but a sampling of your choices once you secretly gather the information from your angler and your other friends who fish.

If all else fails, buy a boat!

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