The holidays are just around the corner. What's a non-angling spouse, family-member, or friend, to give to make an angler smile? Fortunately, there are many options. Gifts can range from highly technical fly fishing gear to very general angling-theme items. Some general guidelines follow:
On the highly technical end for gifts, general advice is to be very certain that the shopper either understands fly fishing very well or has a specific request for gear in mind. Fly rods, reels, and line can be very difficult to buy for the non-angling shopper, unless the angler has specified what they want. Think about it as if one was buying a garment without any idea of size, color preference or price range. Fly rods, for example, run the spectrum in action (slow, medium, fast), length, grade (Sage, Scott or Orvis versus a lower big box retailer brand) quality of materials, and price. Again, if the buyer is not familiar with fly fishing, it's best to avoid a technical gift unless one has a specific request from the recipient. An option is to buy a gift card at a fly shop or retailer that you know the angler frequents or that carries a wide selection of gear.
On the opposite end of highly technical is the gift type purchase. These are lower end gifts like framed pictures, magazine subscriptions, gift cards, nick-nacks. Another option is a fishing license voucher - some states like Pennsylvania sell them. A good book on fly fishing - whether fiction or non-fiction - or a calendar is another idea. Lastly, if an angler does have an interest in conservation, buying a membership to Trout Unlimited or the Federation of Fly Fishers is also a great option.
In the middle are gifts that are generally considered accessories. Clothing is a great way to go in this category. Fleece pullovers, good quality socks, baselayer clothing, lanyards, hats, gloves, sunglasses, and even something like a wading staff, are all good ideas. If the angler ties flies, fly tying material or tools are options, but like gear, it's best one knows exactly what is needed before buying.
A good way to understand what an angler likes or dislikes is obviously through discussion. Another option is through the angler's friends, fly shop owner, and lastly, by looking through an angler's gear, if accessible (and allowable!). Catalogs and fly fishing magazines can also provide hints. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS save receipts when buying for an angler - they can be as fussy as trout!