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The Best Fishing Gifts for the Angler in Your Life

Even if you know nothing about fishing, the gift you’re looking for is on this list.

top fishing gifts
Staff, Courtesy of Gerber

As a lifelong fisherman who grew up fishing mostly bass in New York’s Finger Lakes region, shorecasting and spearfishing for saltwater species while living in Hawaii, and now mostly fishing for trout in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I spend an embarrassing amount of money on gear. So like most anglers I know, I appreciate fishing-related gifts—the stuff you want but don’t buy for yourself.

Being surrounded by anglers even more hardcore than I am has also given me decades of experience giving and receiving fishing gifts. I know which gifts are well-intentioned but likely to miss the mark and which ones have a higher spot on wish lists than they do on priority lists. While it’s best to steer clear of core gear such as rods and reels as well as size-dependent stuff like waders and boots, it’s never a bad idea to give that totally unique but slightly unnecessary gift someone would never buy for themselves. That said, if your angler hints at makes and models and doesn’t care about being surprised, go ahead and buy them that high-end reel they’ve always wanted.

Buying fishing-related gear for friends and family who fish can be intimidating if you’re not an angler yourself, so we’ve assembled a diverse list of gift ideas—for both on the water and off—that don’t require any special knowledge about fishing to be a great fit for the angler in your life.

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Best Bag for Keeping Gear Dry
Yeti Panga 75L Dry Duffel

There’s nothing quite like a big duffel to keep all your gear and outerwear in one place. Whether hunting or fishing, I like being able to grab one bag to throw into the truck, knowing everything I might need for the day is in there. If the angler in your life doesn’t already have one of the Panga Duffels from cooler-maker Yeti, they probably want one. Unlike regular duffels, the Yeti Panga is fully waterproof and ridiculously durable with an EVA-molded bottom for stability, a waterproof zipper, and a laminated nylon hide that keeps water out and suffers insults with a smile.

Best Hard Storage Box for Gear
Front Runner Wolf Pack Pro
Front Runner

If you’re in need of storage that stays in your vehicle, consider a hard tote such as Front Runner’s Wolf Pack Pro. These storage boxes are stackable and are better than bags for things that you don’t want getting bumped or crushed in transit such as extra reels, lures, and fly cases. The black HDPE plastic can take a beating, and you can purchase a liner to pad the cases for sensitive gear such as cameras and fishing reels.

Best Thermos for Cold Mornings
Stanley Master Unbreakable Thermal Bottle

Good fishing often means early mornings, and for me that means hot coffee. If you’re headed somewhere good, there’s probably not a Starbucks nearby, so you’ll want something to keep drinks hot and nothing does that quite like the time-tested vacuum insulation technology of a Stanley Thermal Bottle. The Classic Legendary Bottle has stood the test of time and has unmistakable style, but the Master Unbreakable Thermal Bottle takes the original and improves upon it without overhauling it and provides an absurd 40 hours of heat retention and 35 hours of cold retention. If you’re fishing sunset instead of early morning, consider picking up Stanley’s very cool Classic Sportsman Hip Flask in the classic Hammertone Green, Blaze Orange, or Camo for a nip after a long day on the water.

Best Headlamp for 150 Hours of Light
Biolite HeadLamp 750

If you’re getting out at dawn, you’ll need to light your way with your hands full. Enter the headlamp that conveniently illuminates wherever you’re looking. Even if you’re just getting ready in the parking lot in low light, a headlamp is a great tool for the angler who wants to keep their hands free. Biolite’s 750 cranks out the lumens thanks to a rear lithium-ion battery pack that delivers 7 to 150 hours of light depending on which of the several dimmable light levels you use. There’s a rear red light option as well, which helps cars see you and helps friends follow you through the brush.

Best Sunglasses for Spotting Fish
Bajio Swash Sunglasses

Every angler needs sunglasses thanks to the constant battle with reflections and glare, and it’s amazing how much the right pair can improve your ability to spot fish and features in the water. Fishing shades newcomer Bajio offers several models built especially for fishing, and its lenses are the self-proclaimed “clearest lenses on the planet” thanks to 95 percent blue light–blocking technology. I tested them on the Arkansas River 7,000 feet closer to the sun than sea level, and I can’t argue with the company’s claims. There’s a range of frame colors and styles available, from sport to casual. And they all feature polarized lenses (lots of options here, too, to get the right colors for your home waters) that are set inside plant-based nylon frames that feel substantial and durable. Choose polycarbonate lenses for lighter weight, glass for durability and clarity.

Best Lightweight Sunglasses
Nathan Summit Running Sunglasses

If you’re looking for a lighter-weight pair you can also use for running or biking, check out the new polarized lineup from running company Nathan Sports. Nathan’s Summit Running Sunglasses are extremely light and stay put on your face, ideal for bushwhacking to get to your fishing spots. They’re also reasonably priced if you’re prone to breaking and losing sunglasses like I am.

Best Technical Hoodie for Sun Protection
Forloh SolAir UPF Technical Sun Hoodie

Long midsummer days on the water can be brutal for your skin, and sometimes there’s just not enough sunscreen to save you. That’s why fishermen from Baja to British Columbia rock sun hoodies, and if you fish a lot, you can’t have too many. The SolAir UPF Technical Hoodie from hunting and fishing apparel company Forloh isn’t just another sun shirt. Forloh partnered with technical-fabrics developer brrr Pro to offer a sun hoodie that is actually cool to the touch and helps keep body temperature down through a combination of moisture-wicking and quick-drying with mineralized fabrics tested and proven to keep you cooler. The garment is also 100 percent American-sourced and -manufactured down to the stickers included in the box. 

Best Wool Hoodie for Sun Protection
Ibex Men’s Sun Hoodie

If you’re fishing cooler waters or cooler seasons but still need sun protection, the merino wool Sun Hoodie from Ibex is one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, and it manages to pull away moisture to keep you cool thanks to the natural wicking of merino wool. It comes with built-in, natural odor-control properties (owing to the 83 percent wool content) but fits well thanks to blended-in nylon and elastane for stretch and durability. Like the sheep the wool came from, you’ll stay comfortable through a range of different temperatures on the water, all while enjoying full upper-body sun protection.

Best Portable Emergency Kit
Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series 200
Adventure Medical Kits

Safety isn’t the sexiest gift, but your angling loved one will feel better with an emergency kit in their pack. Especially if they go far afield in search of quiet waters, carrying a first aid kit of some kind in their pack or on their boat is just basic preparedness, but something that’s easy to overlook. The Sportsman Series from Adventure Medical Kits offers all the basic supplies you need in case of trauma or wounds, as well as for dealing with fractures and sprains. It also includes lots of quick reference information for dealing with common field injuries such as knife wounds. The kits are affordable, so buy a couple for your angler to stash in their vehicle and pack.

Best Protective Phone Case
Phoozy XP3 Phone Case

Since smartphones took over for GPS and as helpful fishing apps have proliferated, almost everyone takes their phone with them while fishing. Unfortunately, not everyone’s phone is ready to go fishing. Enter the Phoozy Case, a pouch designed for the outdoors that is leagues ahead of the ubiquitous clear-plastic bag-style cases. The XP3 addresses a common problem for the phones of anglers, hikers, and bikers alike, which is keeping your phone from overheating when you can’t keep it out of direct sun. It also has a stash pocket for ID and cards, and multiple attachment points to tether it to something (like yourself or a pack). Plus it floats so you don’t have to fear taking your phone with you on the water.

Best Pest Fighter
Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller

My worst experiences with mosquitoes and flies have all been when fishing. Mosquitoes love water, and if you spend enough time fishing, you’ll develop a healthy dislike for these short-lived insects. I personally hate covering myself in bug spray (even the natural stuff). Besides, they somehow still find a way to feast on me. Even if bug zappers worked (they don’t), they wouldn’t be practical to take fishing, but Thermacell’s unique and portable MR300 uses an EPA-approved technology to emit a mosquito-repelling “zone of protection” of 15 feet around the device. It won’t work as well on windy days, but mosquitoes aren’t usually around if it’s windy, anyway. The unit uses a battery and replaceable fuel cell, is light and small enough to toss into a pack, and, best of all, is scent-free.

Best Fishing Pliers for Salt Water
Gerber Gear Magniplier
Gerber Gear

A good pair of pliers is essential equipment when fishing—whether offshore, fly fishing, or bass fishing from shore. A $5 pair from the hardware store will do the trick, but it won’t last living around water. Gerber’s Magniplier is made with an anodized aluminum body with a Salt Rx treatment for additional corrosion resistance. The high-use jaw tips and carbide cutters are exchangeable, so even if your Magnipliers start to wear, you can exchange parts to make them like-new.

Best Fish-Filleting Knife Set
Bubba Multi-Flex Interchangeable Knife Set
$95.84 (26% off)

Cleaning fish isn’t fun for most people who don’t do it every day, but the best way I’ve found to make it enjoyable and fast is having good knives. Sharp knives designed for the task are the difference between mangled, wasted fish and clean fillets that come off the bone quickly and easily. Interchangeable blade systems are popular with pocket knives, but this is the first time I’ve seen it applied to fishing. Bubba’s Multi-Flex system gives you one ergonomic handle and four blades of different lengths and flexes and includes one serrated blade. The titanium nitride-coated high-carbon steel blades are not throwaway replaceable blades; they’re full-tang blades that magnetically lock in place. Using the same handle for all three blades means the kit takes up less space and everything fits in the relatively compact case. Grab a pair of Yakoda tweezers for yanking out those pesky pin bones.

Best Skillet for Pan-Frying Fish
Marquette Castings No. 13 Skillet
Marquette Castings

If you don’t love cutting fillets off fish or you just don’t mind catching smaller panfish or reef fish, you should try pan frying small fish whole. When done right, the cooked fillets will lift right off the skeleton with a fork, or you can pick bites right from the fish. My favorite pan for this is the oversize 13-inch cast-iron from Michigan’s Marquette Castings. These forged-in-the-USA pans are finished by hand and pre-seasoned for a pan that holds a smoother seasoning for a more nonstick experience. Specific to pan-frying fish, the wide size means you can fit larger fish and the lower profile and lighter weight means you don’t have to be a powerlifter to move it around.

Best Gift of Education
Orvis Fishing Schools

Whether your giftee is just starting out or is a seasoned angler, Orvis’s fly-fishing schools will teach them the skills they need to fish rather than give them one as a gift. Classes range from workshop-style one-day affairs all the way to immersive four-day “schools” and often are held near high-quality fishing and at spectacular locations, such as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Some courses are focused on a particular type of fish or fishing, but they all promise to progress any angler from beginner to expert. There are also lots of classes throughout the year and around the country, so wherever your angler lives, there’s likely a course within driving distance. And if you want to learn from home, Orvis offers online classes, as well.

Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker for Tailgating
Bushnell Outdoorsman Bluetooth Speaker
$99.99 (17% off)

At the marina or in the parking lot after a long day of fishing, it’s always nice to debrief the day with cold beverages, grilling, and music. Waterproof Bluetooth speakers are great because everyone can take turns as DJ, and they’re easier to move around as you do. Bushnell’s Outdoorsman Bluetooth Speaker is waterproof and drop-proof and has a magnetized end for easy mounting to tailgates or boat hulls, plus D-ring loops and a mounting strap. To get stereo sound, buy two—the Outdoorsman permits simultaneous play from the same device. It also doubles as a USB phone charger.

Best Bluetooth Speaker for Audiophiles
DemerBox DB2 Waterproof Outdoor Speaker

If you’re shopping for an audiophile who likes cranking things up, and you don’t mind spending a bit more, check out the DemerBox DB2 Speaker, which delivers 94 decibels of high-fidelity over Bluetooth 5.0. The DemerBox looks like a small amp, but it’s fully waterproof and despite weighing a little more than 5 pounds, its big battery lasts up to 40 hours depending on how loud you go. Like the Bushnell, the DemerBox supports stereo pairing if you buy two and also has a headphone-jack auxiliary input if you want another means of connecting. It also has dry internal storage for small items like a wallet, keys, and a headlamp.

Best Back-to-Basics Watch
Nixon Regulus Expedition

Smart watches are destined to be another of the hottest gifts again this year, but you can step out of the crowd with the outdoors-focused Regulus Expedition watch from Nixon. This new release builds on the Special Ops-minded Regulus, and is a digital watch that’s refreshingly free of text message alerts, sleep trackers, and the need to charge its batteries. Instead you get two years or more of battery life, waterproofness to 100 meters, and some actually useful and timeless watch features such as an altimeter, compass, barometer, and thermometer. Camp Mode can detect changes in air pressure that indicate bad weather moving in, a nice feature for anglers. 

Best Fishing-Themed Socks
HotSox Keeping It Reel Crew Socks

If you’re looking for some stocking stuffers that won’t empty your wallet, fishing-themed socks let your angler express their passion subtly below the calf. Hotsox makes these punny Keeping It Reel socks, and K. Bell offers a more office-ready black dress sock patterned with fishing lures.

Best Post-Fishing Tailgating Grill
PK Grills PKGO Grill and Smoker
PK Grills

Sometimes you don’t want the day to end even when the fishing’s over. Tailgate grilling is a great way to justify hanging around the parking lot for an extra hour or two, but hauling a full-sized grill is a non-starter for most. The PKGO from PK Grills is small enough to throw into the back of your vehicle, but expands into two grills (using the lid as a base) when needed for double the surface area. It does quick, high-heat grilling for when you just want something fast like burgers and sausages, but it also can pull off low and slow smoking if you really want to make a day of it.

Most Versatile Multipurpose Flask
VSSL Glass-Infused Adventure Flask

VSSL has a flashlight that’s more fun, carrying 8 ounces of your favorite celebratory liquid inside its 4-mode LED flashlight body. There’s also a built-in compass so you can get yourself back to your vehicle and then celebrate that you made it. Inside the flashlight, two collapsible stainless steel shot glasses are stashed along with a bottle opener. The flashlight is ultra-compact, watertight, and nearly indestructible. If you want to help raise money for responsible outdoor recreation while raising your glass, go with the Tincup Mountain Whiskey x VSSL special-edition flask for $10 more. All proceeds go to the Leave No Trace organization.

Best Distillery-Brewery Collab
Breckenridge Distillery Port Cask Finish Whiskey
Breckenridge Distillery

Made from snowmelt high in the Colorado Rockies, Breckenridge Distillery’s award-winning whiskeys, vodkas, rum, and gin are produced in the Upper Blue River drainage. In late 2021, the distillery released a partnership with the Breckenridge Brewery called Buddy Pass, where the brewery used whiskey barrels to create a Whiskey Barrel Imperial Stout then returned the barrels so the Distillery could age whiskey in them for an Imperial Stout Finished Whiskey. The fruits of this years-long collaboration are, for now, available only in Colorado, but you can buy Breckenridge Distillery mainstays such as its Bourbon Whiskey and Port Cask Finish Whiskey online from most states.

Best Red Wine in a Can
Revelshine California Red 2019 (3-Pack)

If you’re buying for a wine drinker, Revelshine wines offer a unique screw-top canned wine for an outdoors-ready vino-to-go that ditches dangerous glass but still delivers quality California wines ready for the fishing camp. I’ve tried all three of its offerings, and while the white and rosé are good, I thought the red was great. You can buy single bottles or multipacks on the website and take comfort knowing the bottles are infinitely recyclable and ultra lightweight when you pack them out to leave no trace.

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