Now that we are into December, it is perhaps time to start thinking about what to get the angler(s) on your Christmas shopping list.
A few years ago, I wrote a column entitled the Twelve Flies of Christmas. In it, I suggested giving a different fly pattern each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I also went so far as to suggest wrapping each fly in a separate package along with a nice fly box, wrapped separately, which could be opened first or last.
One fly pattern to include for sure would be Brian Chan’s caddis pupae. It is the first pattern I haul out when I’m fishing waters I’ve never fished before. It is the pattern I use when I am searching for fish I cannot see. That could be day one.
On the second day, give them a black-sparkle yarn leech. On the third day, a Tom Thumb. On the fourth, a pregnant shrimp, and on the fifth, a tent-wing caddis, and so on. Make sure to include patterns such as the Doc Spratley and Carey Special, which were designed specifically for the B.C. Interior lakes and have, over the years, proved to be some of the most productive fly patterns ever devised. Other patterns, such as the pheasant tail, gold-ribbed hair’s ear and marabou muddler minnow are also tried and true flies that any angler would appreciate having in their fly box. The right dragonfly, damselfly and mayfly patterns work well at specific times of the year. Make sure to also include a couple of chironomid pupae patterns.
One important thing to keep in mind if you are going to give the angler on your list some flies, is to buy quality flies. Most good fly shops will have a selection of “hand-tied” flies, tied by local fly tiers who know what variation of a pattern works best in local water. Any good fly shop will also help you pick out the right patterns, based on specific waters and type of fish.
If you feel particularly generous and/or have lots of money to spend, give the angler on your list 12 patterns exponentially, one of one pattern on the first day, two of another on the next, three on the third and so on up to 12 flies on the 12th day. Just for your information, that would add up to a total of 78 flies. At two to three dollars a piece, plus the fly box, it would add up to a fair amount of money, but boy, it sure would make a nice gift.
The same approach could apply to anglers who use a spinning rod with spinners, spoons or plugs such as Mepps, Panther-Martin, Blue Fox, Len Thompson and Rapalas. There are lots of different brands and actions to choose from, depending on fish species and size. Spinners, spoons and especially plugs, however, tend to be more expensive than single flies, so the exponential idea may not be practical. But a dozen lures would certainly be an equally nice gift. Again, ask questions and do a bit of homework before making your selection.
In as much as presentation is all important when presenting a fly or lure to a fish, presenting the right gift to an angler can be equally significant. Like many anglers, I own several dozen fly boxes, not to mention two or three tackle boxes. Some fly boxes are for trout flies, others for salmon and steelhead. Some contain dry flies while others are for sub-surface patterns. I even have one compartmentalized fly box, with pop-up lids that I use for different coloured salmon egg beads. All of my spinning tackle is kept in same-sized trays that fit into a fitted nylon tackle case. And yes, I have a whack of trays that contain different types of terminal gear which I preselect according to the species of fish I am going after.
Whether flies or lures, the trick is to only take along what you will need and maybe, well, just a bit more – just in case.
When all is said and done, a person does not have to go overboard spending a lot of money buying a thoughtful gift for an angler. After all, as I have said before, it should be the thought that counts.