The first rule for gift giving is to know what the recipient is passionate about. Nothing is worse than spending your hard-earned money on something that the recipient has no interest in, so your gift ends up trashed, stored, or donated.
Assuming you know that the person you are buying a gift for is a fisherman, what should you buy for them?
Knowing that the person likes to fish is not all that helpful without knowing a few more things.
First, how skilled of a fisherman are they? Many of the gifts that are perfect for a novice would not be helpful to an experienced fisherman. If you aren’t sure, stick to the universal and less specific angler gifts.
What is your budget? Fishing is interesting in that it is a hobby you can start with little more than a secondhand rod and reel, a box of hooks, and some worms from the yard, but can end up with a fifty thousand dollar bass boat and a year’s income worth of rods and tackle. If you don’t have a fortune to spend, there are still gifts that will always be appreciated, but it is important to know where you are starting from.
What kind of fishing does your angler enjoy? There are very specific tools for bass versus trout, and even more specific for saltwater rather than freshwater fishing. Knowing the geography of where your gift recipient lives and fishes is also helpful—someone on the Florida coast is unlikely to be fishing the same ways as someone living on the banks of the Missouri River.
If you know all the answers to those questions, as well as what gear your fisherman already owns, and any brand preferences they have, you are in great shape for gift giving. On the other hand, if you know all those things, you probably aren’t looking at a list like this.
So, here is a list of gifts that any angler would love to receive!
Clothing and Other Wearables
Sun Protection is a broad category. A fisherman can spend all day on the water, often for several days running. Find items that work for your climate.
For example, while a hooded parka will provide a lot of sun protection, a summertime fisherman in central Florida would be better served by a lightweight long sleeve shirt with an SPF rating.
Other items to seek out in this category include floppy brimmed hats (there are even mosquito net varieties available) and UV 100 sunglasses. Just be certain the glasses you buy are actually UV 100. With UV rays coming down and reflecting off the water, dark glasses without good UV protection can actually lead to retinal burn from your eyes dilating without protection.
Cold Weather Wear
Fishing is a 4 season hobby. While the type of fish you catch each season changes, most fishermen are not limited by the weather. Fishing is also a dirty and wet hobby. That means that any winter gear needs to be water-resistant, or should shed water away from the body and maintain your body heat.
You can also get lighter weight layerables that will allow them to add warmth a little at a time when the weather changes. Most fishermen start at sunrise, and it can be chilly even on a summer morning. Light jackets or hoodies are always appreciated.
Non-cotton base layers like long johns are great, as long as they transport water away from the body.
For over layers, neoprene is a fantastic material for warmth while wet. The only drawback to neoprene is that it can be too warm. Neoprene will keep you toasty warm soaking wet at 30 degrees, but it might drive you to pass out if it is 60 degrees, so buy what is appropriate for where your fisherman lives and fishes.
The weather can change in a moment, especially out on open water. Packable clothing for rapid weather changes also makes a great gift. Look for lightweight rain gear, waterproof overpants, and even folding ponchos. Some of the best fishing is right before or after a rain, so helping your fisherman stay on the water through the weather will help them have a great catch.
There are quite a few gear options that every fisherman can use, but only the most avid fisherman will buy for themself, making them perfect gifts. Rods and reels can run several hundred dollars for the components, so it makes sense to protect them.
Buy your angler a cover for their casting rod, or a neoprene reel cover. Some reel covers can even be attached to your belt to provide a place to hold a drink bottle and keep your hands free while you are casting.
Fishing is an activity that frequently takes you away from conveniences, so some other handy gifts are those things that make it easier to spend more time on the water and less looking for essentials. Some great ideas are double-walled stainless cups, or Tervis style clear tumblers.
In addition to the accessories mentioned above, consider items to help them prove they really did make the catch they bragged about. Waterproof phone covers can keep their device safe for taking that photo on the water. Also, consider a portable fish scale or retractable ruler as an option.
There are certain things you just can’t go fishing without.
In pretty much every state, you have to have a fishing license to fish public waters if you are over 16. Many states require special endorsements for specific types of fish.
Why not buy them a license for next year? If you aren’t sure when their license comes due, consider buying a license for a neighboring state where your angler may want to travel, but doesn’t want to invest in a separate license.
While it seems obvious, rods and reels are always helpful. You really can't fish without them, and both can fail while you are fishing. You might be mad that a snapping turtle jerked your rod out of your hand and swam it into deep water where you can’t retrieve it, but it stings a little less if you have a back up in your vehicle so your whole day at the water isn’t ruined. A fisherman can never have too many rods and reels.
Every fisherman gets excited about new lures. Even if they already have every lure imaginable, they will still appreciate new ones.
If you aren’t sure what to buy, consider buying a month or more of a subscription fisherman’s box. These services compile a collection of goodies every month. The best ones even base the box on where you live, so the lures and attractants are appropriate to the fish that live in your area.
All of the gifts listed above can be purchased for under a hundred dollars. There may be more expensive versions available, but you can find a reasonably priced item in each of the categories listed. Maybe you have a much larger budget to spend and need ideas for a gift-giver with a fatter wallet.
Something every fisherman thinks is cool, but many would never buy for themselves is fish-finding sonar. There are boat mounted options (if they have a boat), as well as some that are actually cast with your rod and reel. That means that you can see where the fish are in relation to the hook you are about to cast.
Fishing from the banks is fine, but to catch every fish out there, you will need a boat. Consider a kayak as a starter option. You can upgrade to a pedal-powered option if you want to really spoil them. If you are independently wealthy, consider going all-in on a bass boat—no fisherman would turn that down.
Maybe you have no idea what to get and don’t want to risk getting something that is lower quality than what they already have. Consider a fishing experience instead.
If you have a beach vacation coming up, book them a day deep sea fishing. If you have a mountain vacation planned for next year, a voucher for a guided backcountry fly fishing expedition would definitely make them happy.
Check around online— there are probably professional guides in your area with hidden fishing holes that you can book for a fairly small amount of money. You could even consider booking a weekend getaway to a cabin by a lake somewhere for them to go fish (no rule says that you can’t go too, even if it is to just go read by the fire).
In conclusion, there are a million gifts for the fisherman in your life. Regardless of your budget, or your personal experience with fishing, with a little thought, you can definitely get them a gift that will make them smile.