Buying gifts for the fly fisher in your life is easy. My wife might not agree with me, but let me explain.
By and large we know exactly what we want.
For someone who has never fly fished there is a confusing number of options, colors, weights, and types of gear available. Plus, the terminology can be confusing.
The good news is that the fly fisher for whom you are shopping has already done the research for you. And we are willing to explain, in excruciating detail, what we want and why.
The problem comes when you want to pick the perfect gift, but still want it to be a surprise. Luckily for you I have done the research for you.
Below you will find a list of gift options that will satisfy anyone from the beginner to the fly fisherman who has everything.
Some of these products I have personally used and loved. I have also reached out to friends to ask them what piece of fly fishing gear they couldn’t live without. Lastly, there are things that I don’t have, but have done the research on, and would love to get as a gift myself. Hopefully my wife will pick up some hints as she reads this.
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Wanna cut to the chase? Here are a few of my top picks.
Why We Like It:
It's a high quality cooler they might not buy themselves and you can avoid buying fly fishing gear they may not want.
Why We Like It:
It's a great balance of quality and price for a highly capable fly fishing combo for newer fly anglers.
Why We Like It:
It costs hardly anything and makes a great stocking stuffer that any fly fisherman will actually use. Even if they have some, they'll need more.
Fly Fishing Gifts Under $20
Fly fishing can be an expensive sport but, luckily there are plenty of gift ideas that come in under the $20 mark. Inexpensive does not necessarily mean cheap. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying junk while on a budget, here is a list of great gift ideas that don’t cost a ton of money, but will still be useful.
If the person you are buying the gift for is into catch-and-release fishing this is a great little gadget. The less a fish is handled the healthier it will be after it is released and this tool helps release a fish with bare minimum contact. I have used one of these for years and I love it. Just put it on the line then push it down over the fly and with a twist of the wrist the fly comes out and the fish swims off unharmed. They also come in different sizes to accommodate different sized flies.
The humble strike indicator doesn’t get a lot of love but they are very important. My friend, who used to guide on the South Fork of the Snake River, swears by the Oros strike indicator and I have to say that after using them, I have been converted. They are easy to use with very little fiddle factor. You run your line through the center then screw them closed. If you want to change depths then you unscrew it a little, then change depths and screw them back closed together.
Flies for $1 to $4 each
The one thing that every fisherman could use more of is flies.
For the beginning fly fisher, a kit of basic flies like this one below from Cabela’s is a great place to start. For the more experienced fly angler it can be a bit more complicated.
The best advice is to find out where your someone special likes to fish and the type of fishing that they do and take this knowledge to the local fly shop. Specialty shops are better than big box stores for this type of thing. Just don’t be surprised how expensive flies are.
And whatever you do, don’t go through their fly box and add up how much money they have already spent on these little pieces of fluff!
And where is the fly fisherman in your life going to put all of these new flies that you got him? In a new fly box, of course.
There are many different types and shapes of fly boxes. The first type has foam on the inside that you push the fly into in orderly rows the other type has compartments to put the flies into.
There are many good fly boxes out there, but to help, these are a couple nice ones to choose from.
Fly Fishing Gifts Under $50
In this price range we are still looking at accessories, but they are what make fly fishing possible. From the necessary to the obscure there are a lot of good gifts to find under $50.
I love fishing for big trout with dry flies. The feeling of watching fish take my fly off the surface is why I fish in the first place. But let’s be honest. Most of what fish eat is subsurface and so when the fish aren’t rising it’s time to throw some nymphs. This is where the dropper comes in. Instead of giving up on dry flies altogether you can just tie a nymph to the end of the hook and double your chances. The only problem is that tying up dropper rigs is time consuming and a bit tedious. That is where the Smith Creek Rig Keeper comes in. The Rig Keeper allows you to store dropper rigs to use whenever you need them. I have never used the Rig Keeper, but it is definitely going on my wish list this year!
This is another device that I have not used but I am intrigued by it. It solves a problem that all fly fishers have. What to do with the rod while tying on flies or untangling lines? My go to has always been tucking my rod into my armpit for long term projects or biting the cork handle and holding it in my mouth for short term projects. I have also been known to throw my rod to the ground if I’m in a hurry. None of these options are very good and that is where the Belt Clip Holder comes in. It attaches to the belt and allows you to clip in the rod and be hands free while you do other things. How many times have you wished that you had a third hand? With this device your wish is granted!
A good set of forceps is an important tool while fly fishing, unfortunately I have managed to lose every single pair that I have ever owned. If the person that you are buying a gift for has a similar tendency to lose things then consider the Rogue Quick Draw by Loon Outdoors. With a small carabiner built into the handle it is easy to clip onto your pack or person. Now they can take it anywhere and not worry about putting it down and forgetting it.
I am a minimalist by nature and I also spend a lot of my time fishing in the backcountry. I find that I am a much better fisherman when I am fishing in a place that doesn’t get fished very often. The only problem is that those places tend to be a long way from the road. When I am backpacking, hiking, or running deep into the backcountry to fish, I want a fly fishing bag that is lightweight, strong and simple. I finally found the Tenkara Strap Pack by Tenkara USA and it meets all of my requirements. Plus, it attaches to the shoulder strap of my pack giving me easy access while on the move. If the person that you are buying a gift for also enjoys being deep in the woods and is a minimalist, I would highly recommend this as a gift.
The San Juan Vertical Chest Pack is the perfect size pack. It is big enough to carry all of the fly fishing gear that you need for a day of fly fishing while being small enough to not get in the way and makes sure that you aren’t burdened with any unnecessary items. While it is designed to be carried on the chest it has enough attachment points so that you can be creative in how it is carried.
I tied my first fly at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico a long time ago. I promptly lost that bit of fluff that was supposed to be a royal coachman on one of my first back casts.
You might think that this is a story about how I became a fly tyer, but it turns out I didn’t like it very much and I haven’t attempted to tie my own fly in years.
However, there are a lot of people that enjoy tying their own flies, or want to give it a try.
Fly Fishing Father’s Day and Mother’s Day Gifts
If your mom or dad enjoy fly fishing then Mother’s Day and Father’s day are the perfect time to get them a fly fishing related gift. Springtime brings the start to another fishing season and what better way to start than with brand new gear.
Spring is also a good time to update worn out waders. I have been thinking a lot about a nice pair lately because my old ones started to leak and the memories of my cold, wet feet are fresh on my mind. The Clearwater by Orvis has everything that I want in a wader at a reasonable price.
I spent most of my misguided youth fishing without a net, but as the size of the fish I was chasing got bigger and after many frustrating experiences losing fish while landing them, I concede that a net is important. The Driftless Dry Fly Net by O’Pros comes in 3 different handle lengths and is deep enough that big fish don’t flop out. The handle’s also have a convenient ruler on them so you can still measure if you want, but it doesn’t have the annoying measurements on the bottom of the net so that you will be unburdened by the truth when you tell your friends later.
Springtime sun can feel amazing after a long cold winter, but we know that too much sun can lead to problems later on. I hate slathering on sunscreen, plus I always forget to reapply. With a sun shirt there is no need. Put it on in the morning and you are good to go all day long whether it is wet or dry. Plus, everyone looks good in a hoodie.
Not all materials are created equally so it is important to look at the garments’ UPF rating. For day long adventures on or near the water it is recommended that the shirt have a UPF rating of 40 to 50.
Styles differ but here are a few great choices for hoodies. Each come in men and women’s styles and have an appropriate UPF rating.
Made of odor fighting and soft bamboo this hoody is on my own personal wish list.
The SolarFlex comes with a built-in face shield.
For cooler days on the water, I enjoyed the Solstrale hoody and wrote a review on it here.
If hoodies aren’t your thing and you want a nice button up shirt there are plenty to choose from but this is my favorite. I have worn and loved the Astroman Sun Shirt. Even though I already have one I always find myself browsing the internet looking to see if they are on sale so I can buy another.
Best Gifts for Someone Who Loves Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is a sport that requires more than just throwing bits of fluff into water hoping to trick a fish into rising. It is done in the mountains and valleys and at times deep in the wilderness. This environment requires a different set of skills and equipment. Here are some gifts for the fly fisher that enjoys venturing deep into the backcountry.
While cell coverage has expanded considerably over the past 10 years there are still wild places that have no service. For my own peace of mind, and that of my wife, I have carried a Zoleo satellite communication device for the past several years. I have found it useful and reliable. You can read my full review here.
I hate sleeping bags. I find them claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Over the past spring and summer, I have been using the Zenbivy Bag. It is an innovative sleep system that sleeps more like your bed at home with a sheet and quilt. The quilt will attach to the sheet to keep out annoying drafts. It was designed for side sleepers like me and I have really enjoyed using it and would recommend it. It is the perfect gift for the fly fisher on your list that loves multi day fishing trips but hates sleeping bags. See my full review here.
First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical
Despite our best intentions injuries do sometimes occur while we are out fishing. When it does, having a well-stocked first aid kit is a must. No more rooting around in the backseat of your vehicle for something to stop the bleeding or patch up a puncture wound made by an errant hook.
I have been using Adventure Medical Kits for years and find them well stocked with what I need. They are also well laid out so that the stuff I need is easy to find. Adventure Medical also sells replacement kits for when you use something.
The Ultralight .7 is perfect for day trips that include any sort of hiking. It also comes in a waterproof package which is perfect for fly fishers.
I keep the Mountain Guide in my truck. It has everything needed for a week of adventure and a small group of people.
Christmas Gifts for Fly Fishing
Winter is a time to rest and recover from the summer and consider plans for the upcoming season. It is also a good time for gift giving and receiving. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to give the gift of a new skill and the equipment to excel.
Spending money on a new fly rod is a risky endeavor and it’s best not to surprise an experienced fly fisher with a new rod unless you are positive that you know exactly what they want. However, it is a little easier to buy a set up for someone trying to get into fly fishing.
The Encounter Fly Rod Outfit by Orvis is an excellent kit that comes with everything you need to start fishing. I bought this set up for my son for his birthday this fall and have to admit I snuck it out for a test drive and loved it. Even though it is considered a beginner set up, I watched my friend’s son catch multiple 20 inch brown trout with it this summer on the Smith River in Montana. It comes in different lengths and weights but the 9 foot 5 weight is an excellent all around rod.
Tenkara fishing is a Japanese style of fishing that does not require a reel. The Amago is 13.5 feet long but collapses down to just 21 inches and only weighs 3.5 ounces. This makes it perfect for endeavors where weight and size make a difference, like backpacking. I have also used this rod on big day trips trying to reach remote and secluded fishing high in the mountains. The rod itself is designed for bigger water and bigger fish. I have found that it will handle fish up to 20 inches.
Soft Sided Cooler
Christmas isn’t just for new rods, but it’s also a good time to buy other big-ticket items. One of those big-ticket items is a nice soft sided cooler. Nothing is better than having a small portable cooler to keep your beverage of choice and lunch cold whether you are on a boat or in your car.
I bought an RTIC soft cooler several years ago and never looked back. I love it. I have plenty of hard sided coolers in the garage at my house but if I am packing for 1 to 2 days or just want an ice-cold beverage handy this is the cooler that I grab.
Yeti has been making innovative coolers for a long time and this is no exception. It has a magnetic closer that is awesome and it holds just the right amount for a day. When my buddy launches his drift boat down the South Fork of the Snake, the Hopper is always by his side.
Top-Rated Fly Fishing Gifts
If you haven’t found what you are looking for yet, don’t worry. We have more top-rated gifts that should make the day of any fly fisher.
Polarized sunglasses are a must for every fly fisher. They cut down on glare allowing you to better see beneath the surface of the water, they also make it easier to follow a dry fly on top and they reduce eye fatigue. Outdoor Empire’s own Chase Fly spent the summer testing the best Smith sunglasses and he would recommend the Guide’s Choice. You can read his full review here.
For women's focused sunglasses Chase’s wife liked the Smith Joya best. Review here. Sunglasses can be a bit tricky to buy as a gift so make sure that you buy them somewhere they can be returned if they don’t fit right.
Carrying all the gear that is needed on overnight fishing trips can be daunting. While most gear is contained you end up with lots of little bags, so being able to throw all of those little bags into one big bag is super convenient. The Black Hole bag from Patagonia lives up to its name as you can just keep throwing stuff in and it disappears inside. It’s like magic. I have carried one of these bags all over the west on fishing trips, camping trips, family trips and everything else in between for years. My original bag from years ago still looks brand new and I plan on using it for years to come. If you or your special someone is looking for a day bag then try the 40 L bag. It’s just as durable but in a smaller package.
Most fly rods come in a protective tube, but there is no place to put the reel. I hate having to remove the reel each time I want to put the rod away plus then I have two pieces of gear to potentially lose. I much prefer to have a travel case where I can leave the reel attached. The Fly Rod Travel Case allows me to do just that.
Like I said above I tend to be a minimalist by nature, but sometimes you just need to bring more gear. When that is the case the Guide Sling Pack by Orvis has all of the room for the flies, tools, and other gear that you need. I like sling packs over traditional packs because they are easy to swing around to the front of your body for easy access and in my experience, they are still pretty stable staying where you want them. The other nice thing is that if you are buying this pack for someone that is just starting out you can buy it fully loaded with all of the tools and supplies that they need to start fishing.
The Yeti Rambler is, by now, a classic and has changed the way that I carry water on fishing trips. Long gone is the tepid water that used to fill my obsolete Nalgene bottle. If the person that you are trying to find a gift for still uses an uninsulated water bottle for the important task of staying hydrated, please do them a favor and give them a Yeti Rambler. It will change their life forever.
Gifts for Men and Women Who Love Fly Fishing
Here are five more amazing gifts to get for the fly fisher in your life. The first few smaller items would make great stocking stuffers.
I don’t care how much someone tells you that they enjoy nymph fishing when the fish start rising everyone switches to dry flies. To keep a fly on the surface requires flotant and for me it is all about the Gink. I have used Gink for 20 years and it just works.
Having things right where you want them is one of the simple pleasures in life. Flotant bottles are small and easy to misplace. That is why I like keeping my Gink in a bottle holder. While I don’t own this one, it is an upgrade from the one I do use, and when mine wears out this is what I plan on buying to replace it.
Keeping a dry fly on top of the water takes a lot of time, effort and skill. Once it becomes saturated it can be difficult to dry out. My go to in the past has always been squeezing the water out using my shirt or pants, but there is a better way. Easy Dry is a shake bottle used to suck out all the water from the fly so that you can reapply flotant. This is a great gift for the dedicated dry fly fisherman.
It can sometimes be difficult to keep your things dry while out on the water fishing. The Panga is a great way to keep that expensive gear from getting wet, either from a sudden rain shower or getting “accidentally” dunked in a river. The Panga is completely waterproof, airtight, and submersible, including the zipper. If you are tired of cleaning up wet gear, then give the gift of dryness this year.
Gifts for a Fly Fisherman Who Has Everything
Some people seem to have every gadget, tool and accessory available. Not only are these people annoying, but they are also hard to buy gifts for. In my experience you don’t buy things for these kinds of people. You buy them experiences.
The best gift is the gift of fishing itself. Even though I have spent years guiding and doing private trips myself, my dream is an all-inclusive fishing trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon. After years of schlepping gear, I feel like I deserve to have someone else cook meals for me and clean the groover. While this is my dream trip, there are a lot of different opportunities out there. From day trips on your local waters to week long trips in exotic locations there is something for everyone. While you’re at it go ahead and book two spots so that you can go along as well. We all know that you deserve it. Just keep the price to yourself.
Fly fishers are picky. They spend a lot of their time using or thinking about gear. It’s the one thing that they might love more than you, so buying a fly fishing gift can be hard. Choose wisely and you are the hero, but choose poorly and you have a gift that sits in the corner reminding you of all the money you wasted.
You could always just ask what they want, but that would sentence you to 30 minutes of discussing the relative viscosities of different flotant at different temperatures, or a long speech about why 8 rubber legs on a fly are better than 6. It’s because 8 legs seem more “buggy” in case you were curious. If, however, you want to avoid that discussion, and most non-fly fishers will, just look through the gifts here and pick out something great.
Bonus Gift Ideas for Fly Fishers
These are some easy fly fishing gifts that everyone can use and they’re small enough to be stocking stuffers.
Everyone could use more retractable zingers. Fly fishers use them for attaching all sorts of gadgets to their fishing pack and they always need more.
These were originally ski straps but they come in handy anytime that you want to attach one thing to another. I have used them for 20 years and have not run out of uses for them yet.