The FFSW Holiday Gift Guide

As usual, the gear for 2005 is enough to make any fly-rodder's mouth water and turn thoughts to future days in the salt.

November 23, 2004
Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide

Each September, FFSW magazine heads to the Fly Fishing Retailer show where all the newest gear for fly-fishermen is introduced. With Christmas getting close, every angler’s thoughts turn to visions of new rods and reels, the latest in waders and gadgets, and fly-tying tools and materials. As usual, the gear for 2005 is enough to make any fly-rodder’s mouth water and turn thoughts to future days in the salt.

Numerous companies came out with lots of new products, making it difficult to keep up with – or even to find out about – some of them, so we thought we’d give you a list of the things we saw at the show that we think would make any fly-angler happy this holiday season.

There were a number of impressive rods at the show, several of which are very reasonably priced and perfect for the novice angler, or anyone looking for an inexpensive backup. Sage ( introduced the new FLi and Launch series of rods, both of which cast spectacularly and retail for en even more spectacular $249 and $199, respectively. In addition, Redington ( has the new CPS and Rs3 lines of rods, which are priced at $249 and $199 as well.


As for reels, Tibor’s ( new Quick Change version of its reels really stands out as something I’d love to find under the tree. While the bulk of the reels are identical to the old versions, the new QC models allow you to change the spool easily, which means all you have to do to switch lines is pop in a new spool. It eliminates the need for multiple reels and saves both space and money. Prices range from $675 to $790 for reels and $330-$390 for additional spools. Gulfstream and Riptide models will be available December 1. More Tibor Reels>

There are quite a few new fly lines that cover a wide range of uses, including Scientific Anglers’ ( intermediate sinking versions of the Streamer Express. These lines feature a clear intermediate sinking tip that is categorized by grain weight to help you choose the appropriate line for the weight of the rod you want to use. It is available in 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400 grains and sells for $59.95. More Products>



]( ( introduced several lines, including the Leviathan for big fish. This line features heavy-duty 60- and 75-pound cores and retails for $65. Rio also has a new series of shooting heads that are actually designated specifically for the rod you intend to use them for. Most people are aware that you generally want to overline your rod by one or two weights when fishing shooting heads. For example, if you want to fish a head on a 9-weight, you should use a line rated for an 11-weight. Its new Shooting Heads allow you to use a line made specifically for the rod – a 9-weight head for a 9-weight rod. This may sound simple, but it really is unique and helpful, especially if you are buying a gift and haven’t a clue what a shooting head is in the first place. More Rio Products>


Fly-tying vises and tools always make good gifts. We were really impressed by Bee Creek’s (e-mail [email protected]) innovative tying stations, such as its Portable Table Clamp ($110) and FTS One travel tying stand ($115). The desks and accessories by Made 2 Fly (, including its Fly Tying Work Station ($299.95) and Hackle Cabinet (199.95), are also great products. Vise-wise, the legendary Regal vise ( is back with a whole new set of jaws and a cleaned-up look. Peak Vise Company ( has a new series of vises as well, and HMH ( came out with a new model, the Silhouette, and then decided to offer it in a complete package, including tools, for $129 – making it a perfect gift for any new or beginning tier. For its Presentation and Master Series vises, Renzetti ( has a new deluxe saltwater brushed aluminum base that comes with a saltwater stem support and 6-inch stem for $159.95.



Simms ( has some great new waders for 2005. The Freestone Travel Wader is a super lightweight chest wader with a fabric foot that stores in a micro-stuff sack and sells for $129.95. And one of the few companies catering to the growing market of female anglers, Simms developed the Women’s G3 Guide Stockingfoot and Women’s Freestone Stockingfoot. The G3 ($399.95) features 5-layer front leg panels and a 3-layer upper body that utilize Gore-Tex Immersion Technology fabrics as well as an adjustable stretch waistband for a custom fit. The Freestone Model retails for $149.95 and features 4-layer QuadraLam waterproof and breathable fabric technology, a flip-out chest pocket and nylon wading belt. Simms also has a new Junior Wader ($99.95) for kids with QuadraLam fabric that stores in a micro stuff sack. More Simms Products>

LL Bean’s ( new West Branch Wader ($199-$289) is a durable, waterproof, breathable wader that has 4- and 5-layer construction, an integrated wading belt, flip-out security pocket and more.


Luggage may not seem like a great gift, but for any fly angler who travels a lot, the right bag is worth its weight in gold. The newest gear bags are all big enough to hold 3-piece rods and offer enough cargo space for everything anyone could possibly need for a week’s fishing. Simms (, Abel (, William Joseph (, Patagonia ( and Fishpond ( all make these new giant gear bags. While they are a bit pricey, their sturdy wheels and large capacity definitely make them worth the money. Shop For Bags>

Redington has introduced a line of new technical fishing shirts that offer sun protection and dry extremely quickly. Their new Wild Fly shirts are essentially high-performance long-sleeved T-shirts with mock turtlenecks to protect your neck from the sun. They are made with a moisture-wicking, quick-dry fabric and have a high UPF rating. There are two styles, the Crew and the Tech Tee, and both sell for $29.95**. **Shop For Redington Products>

Scientific Anglers ( has a couple nifty innovations that would make perfect stocking stuffers. The new System X fly boxes have a clear lid so you can see what flies you have without having to open every case you have with you. It is also waterproof and floats – the perfect combination for any avid angler – and retails for $19.95. SA also came out with an insect repellant for clothing and gear. Just spray it on and it will repel mosquitoes, ticks and mites for up to two weeks, even through a couple of spins in the washing machine. Shop For Scientific Angler Products>

_by Mark Rumph_
Let’s face it ? your mother-in-law is not going to buy you a $400 fly reel for Christmas. Chances are, if you leave it up to her, your gift will not be anything remotely useful. Unless, of course, you give her a list of low-cost items that are easily accessible – like books. My criteria for fly-fishing gift books are simple: First, they must be books that I would like to have, but would not normally purchase for myself. Second, they should be ones that I can look at whenever I feel the urge with no feeling of commitment to finish. Finally, they should look nice enough to leave sitting out – without my wife putting them in a closet every time I turn around.

Over the past year, three such publications have crossed my desk. All are “coffee-table” books featuring outstanding photography, but they use different styles of text and prose to frame the artwork. The first two titles highlight the work of noted fly-fishing photographer R. Valentine Atkinson, and the third title features black-and-white impressions taken by Marco Lorenzetti. While the pictures may be the first thing to grab your attention, the writing in each will surely not disappoint.


Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die]( **(222 pp., hardcover, $24.95; Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004) was the brainchild of Chris Santella, a fly-fishing writer from the Pacific Northwest. Santella collected information from noted fly-anglers about their favorite spots. From A to Z – literally, Alaska to Zambia – and everywhere in-between, the book combines trip narratives with travel information to give the reader just enough of a taste to whet the appetite. The addition of selected photographs from Val Atkinson further enhances the reader’s experience and provides enough daydream material to keep you opening the book each time you see it. In addition, this book is small enough for you to take to the bathroom without drawing the attention of guests and relatives.


]( Atkinson takes a different road to inviting you on his tour of fly-fishing in **The Greatest Fly Fishing Around The World (320 pp., hardcover, $40; Lyons Press, 2003). He combines his photos from far-flung places with essays from some of the best-known fly-fishing writers of the past and present, including Zane Grey, Tom McGuane, Roderick Haig-Brown, Peter Kaminsky, John Gierach and Russell Chatham. This book allows Atkinson to demonstrate his mastery of both fly-fishing and art through the tasteful combination of literature with painstakingly detailed layout and design interspersed with his beautiful photographs.

In Tideline (191 pp., hardcover, $40; Willow Creek Press, 2004), Kirk Deeter and Andrew Steketee embark on a journey with photographer Marco Lorenzetti to find the most interesting fly-fishing guides and captains working the American coastline. The result of their efforts is an outstanding literary and photographic work. Each chapter in the book relates the experiences that the authors had with their selected captains. Every encounter is humorous, enough so to keep you turning the pages until you are finished (not one of my requirements for a gift book, but, oh, well!). From Amanda Switzer in the Northeast to Conway Bowman in California and many guides around and in between, this book gives the saltwater fly-angler a taste of what the life of a guide and captain is like.

In the end, any angler will be pleased with any of these books. If it’s international adventure that you crave, the first two titles fit the bill nicely. If you’re a pure saltwater addict, Tidelines is more likely the title that you’ll want. At any rate, have a happy holiday season and Tight Lines!


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