It never ceases to amaze me when retail stores transition from Halloween Spooky Deals straight to Christmas Cheer without even a pause for the consideration of the family turkey. Yet, here we are, less than a week away from eating too much stuffing and exchanging names for secret Santas, while planning holiday get togethers amid an orchestra of children’s school performances and neighborhood Christmas caroling. It has been a privilege and honor for me to share with you a few special items that not only I have thoroughly enjoyed using in the past few years, but also things that are on my personal wish list. Keep in mind, these are not in any special order, nor are they given to me as promotional test products for True North to review, they are merely Christmas Wish List items I would have circled in my favorite fly shop catalog much the same way I would have done in the Sears full Christmas catalog of my childhood, sans the crayons.
Every year someone asks me “What rod do I get (so-&-So) for Christmas? They already have everything…” and I feel your pain. For most, it is simple, we already have plenty of the run-of-the-mill, basic five weight rods in our arsenal, and it makes the next step easy. What does he or she fish for? Larger fish> go with a 7 or 8 weight rod, might I suggest the stunning new & improved and ultra powerful AXIOM II from Temple Fork Outfitters, and that pairs nicely with the stunning POWER REEL, that just landed on our shores in October. My fishing buddy, Matt, from Connected Guide Service, said it best when we were playing with an early version of the rod~ “It has plenty of backbone and asks you to give it more, just like the BVK, but with more (insert power adjective).” I totally agree. Re-designed from the previous Axiom series- focusing on the angler rather than the other way around, this rod has immaculate casting prowess and precise delicacy for intimate presentations. It weighs less than 3 ounces for the 5wt and 4.5 ounces for the 12wt, without sacrificing power, higher modulus graphite has upped the game on many rods, making them lighter and stronger. If salt is your game, this rod has already proven its worth battling 30 consecutive 100# tarpon in the Florida Keys. Prices range from $340 for the 5 weight to $360 for 12 weight. For the price, this rod will perform and surpass rods twice the price.
But what if your secret Santa recipient prefers long lines, nymphs or small stream brook trout? Might I suggest the new DRIFT rod from TFO> a multi-function 3 weight rod that can transform from a 9′ to 10′ rod by adding a 12″ section, or adding a 27″ section to make a 11’3″ nymphing rod, or both for a 12’3″ trout spey/tight line nymphing rod. The addition of a 3″ cork butt replaces the fighting butt for trout spey casting. The innovation for the design concept comes from Jason Randall, Midwest photographer, author and angler, who challenged TFO to devise a multi-use rod that allows the angler to replace sections of the rod without re-lining the entire set up. The guides are a patent-pending semicircle that resembles the rings on a basketball hoop, think stringing up a net for a backyard pick up game of 3 on 3. Lefty Kreh claims it to be one of the single most innovative things he has seen in the fly industry in years. Be sure to find a dealer near you to assist with matching you with the perfect Temple Fork Rod. IN Michigan: Ron’s Fly Shop in Grayling, The Northern Angler in TC, Great Lakes Fly Shop in Rockford, Uncle Jake’s in Battle Creek, Nomad Anglers in Grand Rapids & East Lansing, Muskegon River Fly Shop in Newaygo to name a few. Dealer Locator
So you don’t have anyone with BIG items on your list, let me give you a few ideas that I have used and my daily trips on the river have benefitted from using.
KAST GLOVES~ no, they are not cheap, but when I am rowing down the river and the sleet/snow is coming at me sideways with 25 mph gusts, my hands are the last thing that goes numb. Trust me, they are worth every penny. I bought a pair over five years ago, last year I jumped in and helped sponsor a Kickstarter for KAST and have never regretted buying a second pair. I use them raking, shoveling, snowplowing, hiking in the woods, brushing off my wife’s truck, and I stay dry and warm. Price $99
Tacky Fly Box~ innovative, sturdy, visible, and pretty darn good looking. They keep your flies right where you need them. A few years ago, these guys hit the fly market from out of nowhere, now they are appearing in every catalog and in many vests and sling packs around the world. Get yours. Price $25-45.
Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX~ Cannot say enough about how well this line casts. AST plus additive gives this line a superior shooting ability and durability. It is simply amazing. As the line ages and you clean it, more plaston bubbles ‘migrate’ or get exposed at the surface. Performance is not sacrificed and will continue to do the job. This line will last up to 4X longer than other competitor lines. Price $129.
“Modern Nymphing– European Inspired Techniques“~ Devin Olsen and Lance Egan made this video a couple years ago, and I still plug it in to watch while tying a few Tungsten Surveyors. The simple step by step presentation and how effective straight line nymphing can be is nothing short of stellar. Grab a copy of this DVD and incorporate some Euro style nymphing in your river outings. Follow these guys at Tactical Fly Fisher. Price $29.99
“From Lure to Fly” by Dave Karczynski/Orvis~ Dave has the ability to fish with many great anglers, and even myself on occasion, and he notices the most subtle events catch a few fish, traveling from Poland to northern Michigan, from Argentina to northern Wisconsin, and he keeps it all in perspective. He is a true trout bum, sleeping in his VW Jetta waiting for the local bakery to open so he could wash his face and thaw his fingers over a cup a coffee and an eclair before hitting the river. This book puts what many of us already know into a perspective that may help get a few who were interested in the world of fly fishing but intimated by the binomial nomenclature out on the river. Pick it up and prepare to get involved, teaching, sharing and enjoying, not to mention the photography of the many places Dave K. has been and where fly fishing can take you. Amazon price $16.83, Lyons Press $24.95
YETI Rambler Tumbler20/30~ those of you who take your coffee serious, I know I have met a few of you, you want to keep it hot and fresh as long as you can. Yeti drinkware will keep your cold beverages cold and hot drink/soup hot for hours. There are knock offs, I’ve used them and they do compare, but for the extra $$ I am going with the first on the block. Price $29.99-49.99
“Trout Tips” Kirk Deeter/Trout Unlimited~ A few years ago, TU asked it’s members to send in a few tips that save them time or money on the water. The result? A compilation of more than 250 tips ranging from fly choice, presentations, and water conditions to line maintenance and proper casting can help anyone from novice to expert. We are always learning and continue this journey in this great little book. Perfect stocking stuffer. Skyhorse Publishing, Price $16.95
FISHPRINT SHOP~ Do you know someone who caught the fish of a lifetime, and they let it go? This is perfect way to capture that memory. A high quality Joe Tomelleri reprint of any species, fresh or saltwater, worthy of matting and framing, for a fraction of a replica. Simple procedure: tell them a little about where (body of water) you caught it, date of catch, lure(fly), angler and length of fish, this will be incorporated on the print under Field Notes. Tell them True North Trout sent you. Great gift for the accomplished angler who has everything, and a great way to celebrate a good catch. Winner ICAST 2017 BEST GIFT CATEGORY. Price range $125.00-225.00 + $5 per inch over 46″
DEREK DEYOUNG COFFEE MUG~ Many anglers enjoy their favorite cup of Java in a DeYoung Mug. I have a couple and they have been around for a few years, most local fly shops will carry a couple. I picked mine up at Dave Leonhard’s StreamSide Orvis in TC. DeYoung Studio offers an extensive selection of drinkware ranging from shot glasses, rock glasses and pilsners to travel coffee mugs and stainless steel mugs. You can also find unique Mayfly DeYoung wrapping paper for the rest of your holiday gift wrapping. (Best In Show New Item 2017 ICAST $15) Mugs range from $20-99(set)
These are just a few of the thousands of options out there in the vast world of fly fishing. The obvious choice is a gift certificate from True North Trout for a day on the river. Please are with your fishy friends and family. Have a wonderful Christmas Season!!