One of the best gifts I ever received was a $20 bill I found stuffed in an envelope under the Christmas tree way back in 1967. I remember it well because I was only 6 years old at the time, and I got my butt spanked for sneaking off to a local department store on my bike – without permission – to spend it on a new rod and reel. Was it worth the trouble? You bet. There is no telling how many bass, catfish and crappies I reeled in from my grandmother’s stock tank in Collin County, Texas, with that little spinning outfit before I finally retired it.
With the holidays just around the corner, now is the time to start casting for gift hints from the angler in the family. Don’t sweat it if he or she isn’t talking. Just stick with the program, but don’t be afraid to think outside the common box associated with rods, reels and fishing lures. Often, the gifts that keep on giving are the ones that are most appreciated. Warm clothing and comfortable footwear come to mind. If you want to score some serious points, think about a gift certificate for use at a popular restaurant when those long road trips are in order. Cracker Barrel sells gift certificates individually for $10, $25 and $50, and you can get discounts on orders of $1,000 or more.
But in regards to tackle, here is our annual list of holiday gifts for bass anglers. Some items are new to the market this year while others are old hats that will forever hold a special appeal with fishing crowds.
Abu Garcia Revo
Abu Garcia added a trio of affordably priced Cadillacs to its fleet this year, including the Revo, Ambassadeur EXT and Cardinal 800 series. The Revo is a lightweight, fast, low-profile baitcaster available with 6.4:1 and 7.1:1 gear ratios. It is built around a heavy-duty Duragear and Carbon Matrix Drag System. Revo SX and STX models are equipped with a Linear Magnetic Brake system that allows for fine tuning and maximum performance in any situation. The Revo is priced from $99.99 to $199.99, depending on model.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur EXT
The new Ambassadeur EXT (5.3:1) and EXT-Pro (6.5:1) are higher in profile and slightly heavier than the Revo. Both are built with stainless-steel bearings and the Carbon Matrix Drag system. The MSRP for the EXT is $169.99; $179.99 for the EXT-Pro.
Abu Garcia Cardinal 800
The Cardinal 800 series includes Abu Garcia’s top-end spinning reels crafted with super-strong gears, stainless-steel bearings and Carbon Matrix Drag system. The MSRP ranges from $119.99 to $139.99.
Shimano earned Best of Show honors in the freshwater reel category at ICAST 2006 for the Calais, a radical baitcaster with a 4 X 8 Digital Control braking system that adds up to 32 available settings divided between four different casting modes. Available in right- and left-handed models, the Calais retails for $650.
Check out the Supreme (6.3:1) spinning reel from Pflueger. It contains an Ultimate Brake System with dual magnetic and centrifugal cast control system. It comes in right- and left-handed models and retails for around $160.
Abu Garcia Reel Lube
Go ahead. Grease the stocking a little while you’ve got the checkbook out. Abu Garcia Reel Lube sells for $1.45 per tube; Reel Oil, $1.95.
If you spend big money on your rods and reels, then you need to spend a little money taking care of them. For the rods, a great solution is the Stick Jacket. Retailing between $7-$9 depending on rod length and style, these nylon-mesh covers will protect your rods as well as provide an easy way to store them in your garage with hook hangers or in your boat by preventing rod tangling in your lockers. A small price to pay to help your $200 rods last a while.
Swifty Nu-Skin Reel Armor
Swifty Manufacturing won Best Fishing Accessory at ICAST 2006 with Nu-Skin Reel Armor. It is a clear, flexible membrane that covers the side plates of a baitcaster but reportedly doesn’t affect its mechanics. It sells for $12.95.
Shimano Crucial Series
Shimano recently expanded its Crucial Series bass rod lineup to include four spinning rods designed especially for fishing tubes, grubs, crankbaits and jerkbaits. Constructed of IM9 and TC4 blanks, the rods range from 7 to 7 1/2 feet in length; and MSRP is about $150.
Berkley Lightning Rod
These rods are affordably priced and quality built with IM6 graphite and titanium eyes. The rods are available in several lengths and actions and are priced at around $35 to $45.
AiRRUS Pulsar GL Series
The Pulsar GL Series earned AiRRUS Rods its fourth-consecutive ICAST Best of Show award in the rod category this year. The rods are available in casting and spinning models. Expect to pay $190 to $210.
G. Loomis MossyBack Series
Washington-based G. Loomis is synonymous with high-quality fishing rods of every imaginable purpose outside of whaling. For bass guys, G. Loomis introduced a MossyBack series that includes 19 premium rods for varied applications, including 15 casting rods and four spinning rods. One new rod is specially crafted for ripping lipless crankbaits in the grass. The rods retail for $190 to $220.
Flambeau offers an airline-approved, rod-only case that holds six rods up to 6 1/2 feet long. It retails for about $35.
Berkley FireLine Crystal
You can always bank on Berkley for premium stocking stuffers. Last year it was Vanish Transition. This year, it’s FireLine Crystal and Trilene Maxx. FireLine Crystal, the world’s first-ever translucent super line, won Berkley two awards at ICAST 2006 – Best of Show in the line category and Overall Best of Show. Filler spools sell for $16.49.
PureFishing, Spiderwire and 2004 BASS Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle put their heads together and built G-String, a premium monofilament designed to provide unrivaled abrasion resistance without sacrificing sensitivity or handling characteristics. It is available in clear or low-vis green from 4- to 20-pound test. A 330-yard filler spool of 20-pound test sells for $9.49; a 3,000-yard spool sells for $51.49.
Berkley Trilene Maxx
Trilene Maxx is billed as an all-purpose, tournament-grade line that casts as smoothly as XL while maintaining the toughness of XT. Filler spools sell for $11.49.
Leatherman, a toolmaker renowned for making multi-use tools of the best quality, just introduced their new Juice. Offered in three versions with various tools, we reviewed the Juice S2, stacking it against the classic outdoorsman’s pocket tool – the Swiss Army knife. The S2 features a set of needle-nose pliers, a straight knife blade, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, an extra-small flathead screwdriver, small flathead screwdriver, medium flathead screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver, lanyard attachment, can and bottle opener and scissors.
While a similar-sized Swiss Army knife may feature two or three additional tools, the Leatherman gets the nod for quality and handiness in our opinion. While slightly heavier, the Leatherman is noticeably thinner – an important factor when stuffed into a pocket. Swiss Army knives have always been known for being high quality, but the finely detailed steel tools and finish on the Leatherman Juice are certainly more impressive. The multi-tool sells for $60.
Leatherman P4 and S4
Also new from Leatherman is the new Squirt line of key-chain-sized tools – the P4 and the S4. The P4 features a pair of small needle-nosed pliers while the S4 incorporates a pair of scissors. Both offer enough blades and screwdrivers to be very handy for a day on the water with typical Leatherman quality. The multi-tool sells for $39.
Plano 3258 FlipSider Hybrid Satchel
Plano expanded its very popular line of FlipSiders to include the 3258 FlipSider Hybrid Satchel. The Hybrid Satchel features all the best features of both hard tackle storage systems and soft tackle bags and retails for around $50. (planomolding.com)
3940 worm/spinnerbait file
This is just what the name says. It’s a box designed to hold up to 96 spinnerbaits or all the worms, hooks and sinkers you could ever need to carry. The spinnerbait/worm file retails for around $20.
Berkley Premium Marker Buoy
You know it’s out there, but where? Berkley just made the marker buoy more visible with a bullet-shaped float that sits much higher in the water than conventional buoys. A reel-up feature grabs 10 inches of line per turn. Plus, there is a programmable spool lock to reduce drift. The buoy sells for $19.99.
Minn Kota On-board DC Charger
This new charger keeps things hot while you are running. The charger is designed to pump juice to battery banks while the outboard or stern drive is cranked. It is available for one- to three- bank purposes, and has an MSRP of $80 to $100.
Minn Kota Digital Battery Meter
The new digital battery meter from Minn Kota lets you monitor 12V battery voltage accurately. It sells for around $15.
Solar Bat Sunglasses
These are a necessity for any serious angler who likes to see his prey or just wants to look good driving down the road pulling that boat to the lake. Pictured from top to bottom are the Speed and the Knife, which are part of the Noctular PNV Series, retailing for $114.99 each.