Story last updated at 12/12/2012 - 3:57 pm
To the traditional growl of Hardy reels and the beautiful sight of falling snow we enter the holiday season. Usually in this column of On the Fly, I share a technique or showcase a specific seasonal fishery unique to our local waters here in Southeast Alaska. However, with the holiday season upon us, this December column takes on a slight departure. Given that most of our rivers and lakes are now dormant, resting peacefully under a growing blanket of ice and snow, and the angling season is now behind us, I'd like to dedicate this column to all anglers of Alaska (young and old, beginner or advanced) and offer a few gift ideas for the holidays. These ideas for gifts can then be casually mentioned, or as we fly-fishers say, "presented and drifted" during evening conversations with fishing buddies or left as subtle hints like a bookmarked catalog left on a night stand for loved ones or spouses to take note of all in the form of an angler's wish list for the holidays. So let's begin.
Together as fly-fishers, it's generally understood that most if not all of us are notorious gear-junkies. Speaking from experience, one item that we can never have enough of are fly rods. Today's computer age fly rods are very specific, and they are available in a variety of lengths and tapers all technically designed to address precise fishing needs and requirements. For example, in the past decade and a half the fly-fishing community has witnessed an explosion in the popularity of two-handed fly rods, or Spey rods, particularly in the Pacific Northwest where fishing large watersheds are more the rule rather than the exception. These longer, "two-handed" rods offer tremendous advantages to the angler when the day of fishing requires long repetitive casts and advanced line control and mending.
Taking these fundamental advantages to another level, fly rod designers have recently launched a unique hybrid rod the fly-fishing community refers to as "switch or two-hand assist rods." The concept of a switch or two-hand assist rod is to have a fly rod that can harvest the inherent advantages found in a Spey rod - longer more effortless casts with pronounced advantages in line control - while at the same time retaining the practicality of a standard, light-weight, single-handed fly rod. The result of this theme is a highly versatile fly rod of moderate length (usually 10 1/2 to 11 feet) that can be fished using either single-handed or double-handed styles. Either of these rod styles, Spey or switch, would be a pleasure to own and fish with next season so leave a hint or two, maybe an open catalog, around the house.
Fly-fishers agree that fly lines catch fish. Similar to fly rods, fly lines are also highly specialized. Compliment that new Spey or switch rod with a properly balanced fly line from AirFlo, Rio or Scientific Anglers all of whom are at the leading edge of fly line development and production. These manufacturers make a wide number of lines specifically designed to accommodate Spey, switch or single-handed styles of fly-fishing.
A nice holiday gift centered around fly lines might include a complete fly line package for example, a shooting /running line, one or two Skagit heads and several different sink tips. These items can then be neatly presented in a fly line storage wallet - another nice gift item - and then wrapped and tucked under the tree or simply given during a holiday gift exchange.
And if there's a photographer in the house or someone you know that enjoys capturing the scenic beauty of Southeast with a camera, how about something to keep that digital camera protected and dry during outings in the rain forest conditions. For them, take a look at the products from Sagebrush Dry. The Garrett's at Sagebrush Dry, a local company located in Kake, design and manufacture some of the best waterproof and watertight quality outdoor bags in the market. Their Cam-Dry camera bags are not only functional and durable, but also are made utilizing the highest quality fabrics along with cutting edge zipper innovations and seam welding technologies. These bags are available in two sizes, one to fit standard size DSLR cameras and a larger size to accommodate cameras equipped with longer zoom or telephoto lenses.
The holiday season is a peaceful time in Southeast Alaska. Homes glow with holiday cheer as family and friends gather and the sweet smell of wood stoves hangs heavy in local valleys. Even as rivers flow dormant, I love this special time of the year. True, my next cast might be several months away, but I can still find pleasure catching the holidays, as I left plenty of gift ideas around the house. May you and your loved ones enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday season!
Rich Culver is a fly-fishing freelance writer and photographer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.