Every year I’m asked about holiday gifts for anglers, usually by non-anglers wanting to get something for a friend or relative who fishes. Here’s the problem: someone who wants to surprise an angler with a gift is pretty clueless as to what the recipient can really use or likes. Often, anglers are gifted with something that really isn’t wanted, or needed. With that in mind, here are five can’t-miss suggestions for what non-anglers can get as fishing gifts for men, regardless of where they fish, what kind of fishing they do, or what species they pursue.
1. Gift Certificate
I rank this first among fishing gifts for men because it gets them what they want, and it’s easy. I know several ardent anglers who prefer to get a gift certificate so that they can pick out a specific rod, reel, or other item that suits their needs. A certificate from a local sport shop may be best, keeping your business local, but also consider major national outdoor-equipment retailers who sell online and through physical stores and have a larger merchandise selection.
As the author of many fishing books and calendars, I’m biased in this suggestion, but printed materials, especially large-format books, make fine fishing gifts. Eliminate very specific how-to technical guides and go for entertainment. Large-format or coffee-table books are great to look at and flip through, and make super fishing gifts for men, with two caveats. First, check to see that the book is current. Some publishers reissue old titles as is with no updates and put current copyright dates on them, even though the information is old. It’s deceptive but not illegal. Second, make sure the book is geared to the American angling scene, and focused on North American species and angling conditions.
Take a look in the Humor category for anything that Pat McManus has written, or a book of John Troy’s angling cartoons. For fireside material, there are assorted anthologies that capture poignant and reflective angling moments quite well.
Also consider fish cookbooks if the recipient likes to eat and cook what he catches. Bear in mind that fish cookery books are almost always focused on species found in fish markets (meaning commercially sold fish and primarily saltwater species) and rarely have recipes for the likes of walleye, white bass, panfish, etc. However, some have crossover merit and contain information useful for anyone.
3. Lifetime Fishing License
Some states offer lifetime fishing licenses for residents. Though expensive, a lifetime license is a great gift for almost anyone. Considering that license costs usually increase periodically, and given the life expectancy of the recipient, this can be a lifelong bargain. Check to see that the state your intended recipient lives in has such a license. Call the regional office of your state natural resources agency for information, or look at their website. Plan ahead, since it may take several weeks to process such a license.
4. Automatic inflatable PFD
Of all fishing gifts, this could be the one that literally saves a life. Most anglers don’t wear life preservers – technically known as Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs – because they’re cumbersome. Good-quality inflatable PFDs are comfortable as well as rated and approved by the U. S. Coast Guard. Get one that activates automatically and floats the user in an upright position with head out of the water. It should automatically inflate in a few seconds when the wearer is in the water. Look for these at marine supply stores and major national outdoor-equipment retailers, and make sure to get a size suitable for the recipient.
5. Top-Quality Raingear
Good raingear to an angler is not the same as what it is for other people. Being able to reach and move without constriction is important, as is a hood large enough to fit over a billed cap, as is resisting wind (or driving in a fast boat), providing warmth (in cold), having reinforced knee patches, sturdy storm flaps, lockable elastic drawcords, and more. It’s best to buy a matched parka and bib overalls. While you can get these online, eyeballing such items in person at an outdoor specialty retailer is better, and keep in mind that they will be worn over other clothing when sizing.
You can find other holiday gift ideas on this site, starting with this practical one.