Picking gifts for picky anglers

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James Overstreet

I know a lot of people are considering fishing related gifts for friends and family members, but in many cases, the selection may seem overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you know what an angler needs? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but I can offer some guidance on how to approach the gift-giving season.

First off, don’t stress yourself by trying to find a gift that does everything. My suggestion: Go for middle-of-the-road in terms of performance and price. You want something that won’t disappoint, but you don’t necessarily need to buy the most expensive option.

I’d suggest starting with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s branded products like the BPS Pro Qualifier baitcasting reels. A 6.4:1 gear ratio will be perfect for multiple applications so the angler receiving this gift will likely get a lot of use out of it.

If I were spooling this reel, I’d go with 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon. You’ll find dependable quality at a moderate price with Bass Pro Shops’ XPS Fluorocarbon, while the Hi-Seas fluorocarbon I use offers a higher level of performance at the next pricing level. 

Now, if you’re going to buy a rod/reel combo, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s have plenty of great options. But if you want to custom match the Pro Qualifier reel to a rod, I would chose a 7-foot medium-heavy Cashion Rods CRT. That’s a great entry-level rod between $119 to $129 with all the same great qualities as a $200 rod.

As far as baits, you have no lack of stocking-stuffers here, but I realize that staring at a big wall of lures, or scrolling through online listings can leave gift-givers unsure of what to select. For this, I would go with soft plastic baits that cover several common presentations.

I think most anglers would appreciate a good flipping/pitching bait like the Riot Baits Fuzzy Beaver and a finesse style worm like Riot Baits’ Pro Finesse Worm. You can add other bait styles later, but these two will fit several effective presentation styles.

Another user-friendly bait that fits well in a stocking is a jig. Riot Baits offers a Lil Creeper jig for smallmouth bass and a Minima jig, which is designed for largemouth. Put a Riot Baits Tantrum on the back of either one and you’ll have a highly effective rig that will allow you to put a bend in that new rod. 

With any holiday shopping, unless you know exactly how your friend or family member fishes, you don’t need to worry about getting technique-specific. Check the reviews on various rods and reels and select a solid middle-of-the-road outfit that will enable an angler to handle multiple techniques.

Like any type of buying decision, you want to get the most for your money, but the more educated you are, the better prepared you’ll be to make the right choice. Do a little bit of research and you won’t have to spend so much money.