Fly Fishing Gifts: A How-To Guide
Any fly fisher, beginner or seasoned, appreciates a gift that supports their passion.
Much of the enjoyment of fly fishing is the all-consuming preparation leading up to time on the water. Selecting the right fly rod, loading your fly box with the appropriate flies, assembling your gear, and studying maps as if you were going to take Normandy. Fly fishers will easily spend more time strategizing and equipping themselves for a river, stream, lake, or coast than fishing it. This aspect of fly fishing makes it a very giftable activity, as the gear and planning are an integral part of angling.
I am writing this as both a giver and receiver of countless fly fishing gifts. In fact, I would say 75% of the gifts I receive have something to do with fly fishing. If you are reading this in search of a gift, rest assured, I wish this was somewhere closer to 95%. Any fly fisher, beginner or seasoned, will appreciate a gift that supports their passion. There are, however, key approaches to buying gifts for fly fishers to ensure success, which brings us to the number one rule of fly fishing gifts.
The best fly fishing gift facilitates, or is usable while, fly fishing.
I have received fly-etched pint glasses, fly reel coasters, and whimsical trout socks. Don’t get me wrong, these are thoughtful gestures, and I do prefer fly themed home goods over plain ones. But if you want to elevate your gifting above mediocrity, choose a gift that directly facilitates fly fishing, and is not simply fly fishing themed.
While you are sure to be successful from this starting point, there is one question to ask first. Are you buying a gift to introduce someone to fly fishing, or are you buying for a seasoned fly fisher? The remainder of this article is organized to help you in either situation.
Gifts to Introduce Someone to Fly Fishing:
- Their First Fly Rod: The best gift you can give someone who might enjoy fly fishing is their first fly rod. To ensure they have everything they need, you should buy this as a kit. You will see these advertised as a fly fishing “outfit,” “bundle,” or “boxed combo.” These include a fly rod, reel, line, and for some, a handful of necessary accessories. These kits are by far the easiest way for someone to begin learning how to fly fish on their own, with a guide, or with a mentor.
- A Fly Fishing School: This is a perfect gift for anyone with even an inkling of interest in fly fishing, as it will take them from 0 to 60 in one to two days. Many fly shops, and famously Orvis, offer fly fishing schools that run anywhere from a day to a week. Even if you can’t find one in the right location, chances are any fly fishing guide will be happy to do their own version of a one-on-one school for a client. Just give them a call and ask them to mock up a gift certificate.
Buying Gifts for Beginner to Seasoned Fly Fishers:
- Know your Fly Fisher: If you are not a fly fisher yourself, the most important thing to know is that there are many different types of fly fishing. Freshwater, saltwater, still water, trout, salmon, bonefish, bass, the list goes on. The easiest thing to do is to ask a family member, fishing buddy, or friend of the gift recipient what type of fly fishing she or he does. Chances are, the recipient has extensively talked about their fly fishing to anyone who will listen. Once you have a few keywords, search for flies and other items specific to the recipient’s type of fly fishing. For example, an online search for “Top Tarpon flies” or “Top trout flies for Montana” will bring up countless opportunities to buy carefully curated assortments - no knowledge needed.
- Shop their Local Waters: When gathering info through friends and family fails, shop the person’s local waters. Do they live on the coast, a major river, on a pond, near small streams? This is perhaps your best source of information, because no matter what trips they take, chances are they fish their home waters most often.
- Equip for a Trip: Every fly fisher has a bucket list of places, many have an annual trip, and others pick up and go spontaneously. If you know your fly fisher is going somewhere, find some information about fly fishing in that place. What species of fish is it known for? Ask a Curated Fly Fishing Expert for the best flies to use in [name your state] in the summer.
- Safety in Common Fishing Tools & Accessories: No matter what type of fly fishing a person does, there are certain items that any fly fisher can use. Generally speaking, fly fishing tools are a safe bet. This includes things like fly fishing pliers, forceps/hemostats, nets, nippers, and fly boxes. All fly fishers have these, but chances are, they have one or more cheap ones. Higher-end versions of these are not required to fly fish, but they make a huge difference. Most are also built to last a lifetime, ensuring you'll be remembered every time they are on the water for decades.
- Gear that Gets You There: If you feel like a fish out of water trying to match a person’s fly fishing type, there is another category of gear every fly fisher will appreciate. Look for the packs, bags, and luggage built for getting a fly fisher from point A to B. Fly fishing is gear-heavy, to say the least. Packing waders, boots, fly rods, reels, flies, landing net, and more is cumbersome. Fortunately, Orvis, Fishpond, Sage and others have engineered packs and luggage to efficiently carry this gear. Specialty luggage can get pricey, but it is sure to make their life easier.
- Fly Fishing Books: Few people realize that fly fishing is also a literary endeavor. When not on the water, your angler is probably talking about, thinking about, or reading about fly fishing. It takes a lifetime of learning to become a master, and much of this knowledge is picked up in books. A quick search online and you'll easily find the top fly fishing books.
- Enhance their Fly Fishing with Fly Tying: No matter what type of fly fishing you do, you are going to need flies, and lots of them. There are two options for this, buy flies or tie your own. Yes, many fly fishers meticulously craft their own flies, and frankly, I am amazed by the number of fly fishers who do not. One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is to catch a fish on a fly you hand-tied from feathers, thread, hook, and a few other materials. If the fly fisher you have in mind does not tie their own, this is a gift to take their passion to the next level. To get someone started, gift a fly tying kit, inclusive of all the tools, materials, and instructions needed to get started.
- Fly Fishing Apparel: I cannot tell you how many fishing shirts I own, not one of which I purchased for myself. Fishing shirts are probably the most gifted items for anglers. Because of this, save apparel as a last resort. If you take this route, look beyond the breathable fishing shirt (they probably have many), and focus on some of the more gear-oriented items like wading jackets, neckwear, and fly fishing rain jackets.
- Time or Access to Water: The best fly fishing gift I ever received actually wasn’t an item at all. It was time on a steam I otherwise didn’t have. No matter who the person is, even if they are a professional fishing guide, there is one thing for certain. They feel that they do not have enough time on the water. The solution is easily giftable in the form of an AirBnB next to a trout stream, or a gift certificate to private waters owned by a ranch, resort, or fishing club. For partners and other family members, if your budget won’t cover lodging or private waters, consider a DIY gift certificate - a day or weekend of unrestricted, no-responsibility fly fishing for your angler.
- Ask a Fly Fishing Expert on Curated: Want to ensure success with your fly fishing gift? Message a Fly Fishing Expert on Curated for free. After a few questions, they will narrow down a handful of options carefully tailored to the fly fisher you have in mind. We also offer the option of a Curated gift card which can be used towards making a fly fishing purchase with free expert help finding the right gear for your fly fisher's needs.