Christmas time leaves most folks huddled around fly tying benches and computer screens pining away over photos. It’s not always easy to come up with that daily fish picture so many Instagrammers are striving for when things are iced over. If you’re like us, however, when you’re not fishing you’re acquiring gear, gadgets, and tools for the trade. Very few things will actually make you catch more fish, but a lot of new items consistently showing up at your local fly shops make the day a lot more enjoyable.
If you’re on the lookout for gift ideas for your fishy friends then you want to check out our yearly Christmas Blog, which lists some truly epic gift suggestions. To reap the rewards of our field trials yourself, you can always leave a few clues to this article for your significant other to pick up on. These are all items we used and liked in 2018, with such a range that even the angler who has everything won’t have all of this.
1. Hitting Chile or maybe a saltwater designation this winter? Get these
Olukai nohea moku – These are great water shoes that offer comfort, protection, breathability, and grip. For us (fast) aging guides we can put our shoe inserts in these and have some arch protection. After wearing sandals for a couple years and getting “flats back” in the keys we tried a few different models of this concept, and these proved to be by far the best. They were designed to be worn otherwise barefoot, with built-in ports for draining water. We were worried about the soles marking up the $60,000 flats boat we were fishing out of, but fortunately they’re made from non-marking rubber. They don’t last super long if you keep them wet all the time, but they’re still very durable.
2. Sick of paying $300 for fishing pliers? So are we
We’ve been trying out pliers ever since Abel screwed us by making these incredible, indestructible pliers. As much as we hated the hefty $300 price-tag, they were so much better than any other product to come out that us guides felt almost obliged to buy them. Now everyone has a variation. However, we finally came across one in our guide price line with the Piscifun Fishing Pliers, available on Amazon for a mere $25. We put them through their paces in Haida Gwaii to check for rust, and sure enough they passed. They come with a bungee cord and a case to strap on your wading belt; designed for gear fishing, they also have a split ring feature (you Dick Nite guys may like this).
3. Never enough sunscreen in the world
Our buddy Chris Coyne bought a new flats boat last year and wanted us to fish with him. If you’re lucky enough to have the sort of friend who throws you death stares for closing a car door a bit hard or getting any dirt on his floor mat, the sort of friend who wants to kill someone if they try to eat inside, then you know our buddy Coyne. We found out right away that sunscreen was going to be a problem in his boat after he banned us from using it on our feet. As they slowly peeled away we begged for just one application done responsibly, but were cruelly denied. After this we decided to find the best sunscreen in the world, one that stays on your skin and doesn’t cause havoc on a boat. There is no question Sawyers is it. It is called Stay Put Sunscreen for a reason and it really does work.
4. No more mounts: this is your next replica
Every year we have guests who want mounts of their 20 pound plus steelhead. We had a great local guy, but he recently closed his shop down. We searched out alternatives for a mount and this year at ICAST saw this awesome new product. It is a print shop that hand-draws your fish once you’ve sent pictures, exact measurements, and field notes. They look beautiful in a nice frame. We have done a couple of them now, with more and more clients locking in on this unique way to preserve the memory of a very special wild fish.
5. Organization is the key to success
On the Bulkley our primary mode of transportation is boats, either rafts or jets. We all have our own systems to pull our gear in and out each day, but one thing we all like using is milk crates. Due to this, we were so excited to see Flambeau’s new Tuff Krate product at ICAST. It was designed for gear fishing in kayaks, but it’s really great to toss into your jet boat and keep your gear organized. If you have a jon boat style jet boat, you’re always looking for unique ways to stop tackle and save space. The crate has built-in shelves, a lid that doubles as a seat, and a rod-holder: all come in super handy. It is a lot more expensive than a milk crate ringing in at $100, but the smart engineering of this thing makes it well worth the price.
6. A true trophy needs to be confirmed
We don’t measure a lot of fish, but when that push of hogs shows up and we get dialled on them we see some fish well over 40 inches. A fish like this either becomes folklore or properly and safely measured, never leaving the water. To get the job done quickly and efficiently you need a very reliable measuring tape, and we finally found one. With other cheap plastic options inevitably falling apart, the Rapala Retractable is truly the best one you will come across. This is a slick design, and truly handy dandy when you need it.