stocking stuffers

WaterLine photo by Capt. Josh Olive

If all this falls out of your stocking, you must have been really good this year.

Your holiday shopping is almost done (I hope). But maybe there are a few things you still need to grab. If you’ve got an angler on your list, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is fisherfolk can be highly selective about the gear they use, so buying something for them can be a challenge.

Now the good news: There are some things that almost every angler needs and uses, and those types of things are always welcomed. Even better news: Some of them can had for a buck or less, so they’ll fit pretty much any budget. Let’s take a look at some of these stocking-stuffer items.

There are always the essentials that every fisherman needs: Fluorocarbon or monofilament leader ($3 and up), splitshot sinkers (about a buck), floats (as little as 50 cents), and jigheads (mostly under $5 a pack). Everybody needs hooks, too, but there are so many styles, sizes and brands. If you know what kind of fishing your gift recipient likes — offshore, sharks, flats, etc. — the friendly staff at your favorite tackle shop can make some educated guesses that will probably work for them.

Tools that make fishing easier and generally more pleasant are always good choices. Braid cutters (less than $5), lip-grippers for better fish handling (from $10 for plastic ones to about $120 for a BogaGrip), scales for weighing your catch (as little as $4), a catfish grabber to safely hold and release those slimy stingers (about $20, which is far less expensive than the ER visit that a catfish sting often leads to).

Cutting line is always a pain because your cutting tool is rarely where you want it to be. That’s why a handy little device called The Snip is always a great gift. It’s got a built-in lanyard and clip so it’s easy to attach wherever, and it’s designed for one-handed use. There are several models available, some with conveniences such as a magnifier or light on the tool. The basic version sells for $13.

Long-nose pliers, used for removing hooks and various other tasks, are always getting lost or rusty. You can get a basic set of steel pliers for less than $10 or a nice aluminum pair with side cutters and a nylon sheath for around $30.

If you know your angler uses live bait and fishes from the pier or shore, that means they’re using a bait bucket. A small battery-powered aerator is a great way to keep their bait alive longer for as little as $5. Even if they have one, this is another item that’s always getting misplaced, so you can’t really have too many of them.

Fishermen are always doing dumb things with their hands, so decent gloves are always a good idea. They need to be thin but durable. Berkley makes a nice glove (in blue or pink!) for about $4 a pair. They’re great to keep in any tackle box or boat.

Every angler, and especially the ones that fish salt water, knows the constant struggle against rust. A spray anti-corrosive called Get Some is a very useful weapon to have in that fight. It’s food-safe and nontoxic, so no worries about getting it on your fingers. It’s also an excellent lubricant for keeping reels and other tools functioning smoothly. You can pick up a can for less than $10.

Most anglers use artificial lures at least sometimes, and there are a few that are near-universal: Soft plastic shad tails ($3 to $6 a bag), pre-rigged swimbaits (less than $5 for most), spoons ($3 to $7), silly jigs ($3 for a two-pack), and our shop favorite — the white Storm Twitch Stick, which runs under $9 and catches fish better than lures costing twice as much.

Of course, the holidays are about more than just buying stuff for each other. I’ve been seeing a lot of holiday spirit around lately, and it’s great. But let’s try to hang on to it after Dec. 25. The stores start playing Christmas music the day after Halloween, but come Dec. 26, it’s all over. If you don’t want to play Bing Crosby through the New Year, that’s fine — but if we can hold onto the way we feel, that would be amazing.

I hope everyone is enjoying some time with friends and family at this festive time of the year. Try to be happy and cheerful, and remember to tell your loved ones how much you care. (You can do that other times of the year too — I’m trying to.) I wish all of our customers and readers a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing info, or visit them online at FishinFranks.com.

Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing info, or visit them online at FishinFranks.com.

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