Vol 7 No. 13 - December 20, 2006

Christmas gifts for the angler

By Captain Thom Smith
special to the sun

With just a few shopping days left until Christmas, I'd like to pass on a few gift ideas that may be helpful for the angler or anglers in the family. Every year I look for something that is brand new and different and there are a lot of great gifts available.

One thing that I've mentioned before is a line-winding station. This machine will strip the old line off your spools and wind new line on. It's a smaller version of the commercial line winders that tackle shops use. It makes replacing your line quick and easy without the line twist that alot of people get when they do it by hand. Berkley has a nice little unit for about $26. Berkley also has a nice Marker Bouy that sits high in the water and reels up the line for about $11.

Rods and reels can come in two-piece combos or individual rods and reels that cost $40 and up. If you have that in mind as a gift, be sure that you know what type fishing the recipient intends to do before buying.

For someone who wants a personalized fishing rod built for them, a custom rod is the way to go. A craftsman can build a rod with the length, action and thread color that suits your needs. Some craftsmen can do fancy artwork, weaving fish, maltese crosses and eagles into the wraps. Also, your name or boat name can make the rod even more personal.

Over the years, I've developed an appreciation for artwork, especially paintings, sculptures and wood carvings that feature fishing scenes, fish and boats. I have carvings by Frank Gabriel, of Apollo Beach, which are full-sized replicas of snook and redfish that many people have a difficult time believing are carved from wood.

Harvey Guant is a local artist that does excellent work on everything from fish prints, T-shirts and tiles to custom picture frames. Until the end of December, you can view his work at the Arts Council of Manatee County located at 926 12th St. W. in Bradenton or call him at 729-4523.

Florida Sportsman magazine publishes a line of books that are very helpful, and I'll mention four that I have. "The Fishing Planner" gives you a full year of tide, moon phases and solar lunar tables for the state. It also contains a lot of useful information about a variety of things.

"Sportsfish of Florida" and "Sportsfish of the Gulf of Mexico" are two fish-identification books that are illustrated by Kevin Braut. The pictures are in color and right on the money. Each fish is described with its scientific name, other names and information about the fish, such as size, food value and game qualities. In addition, which tackle and bait to use and areas where the fish can be found are included.

"Bait, Rigs and Tackle" covers more knots than you will ever need to know, from how to tie a "Bimini Twist” to how to hook a shrimp and other live baits. Personally, I think all of these books are a necessity.

How-to books and videos on fly fishing, fly tying, cast netting, cast net repair, cleaning fish and books on antique rods, reels and lures are also great ideas.

Popular stocking stuffers range from filet knives to sharpening stones, jigheads, hooks, pliers, scissors (that cut braided line) and charts.

If none of these ideas appeals to you, check with local tackle shops for help. They have knowledgeable people that fish and can give you first-hand information. Gift certificates are appreciated and all of the tackle shops have them.

Fishing guides also have gift certificates available, and it’s good to secure a fishing trip for a prime time period for the upcoming year.

If it's a major gift you're looking for, the Power Pole, a shallowwater anchor, is a great gift for the inshore fisherman. It is a little pricey, but a great gift. There are also electronics like a handheld GPS or VHF radio. They are excellent and reasonably priced gifts for the angler.

I hope some of these suggestions help. If you have any questions or want more information, you can call me at 737-5672 or 776-1187.

Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

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