Holiday gifts can have ring of their own


At a major sporting goods store in Glen Burnie the other day, a woman and her son were puzzling over a rod-and-reel combo, which was to be a holiday gift for the man of the house.

"Mom," the young man was saying, as he returned the Penn 209 and Peer Stick to the rack, "Dad will never use that. Dad likes bass fishing, and that outfit is for trolling for rock and blues."

The woman, pushing a shopping cart in which an infant dozed and which already piled with trappings of the season, rolled her eyes and sighed.

"This is the hardest part of Christmas shopping, finding something for your dad," she said, as her son led her into the next aisle, where there was an ample variety of freshwater gear.

And, indeed, anglers and hunters are finicky about what they want.

The easy way out is to buy a gift certificate, which will take care of the big-ticket items, and then to fill in with stocking stuffers that will complement them.

And the key to finding the right stocking stuffers is to go to a sporting goods store that specializes in the type of activity to be done and to ask for help from the sales staffs, which in most cases will be hunters or fishermen.

Every recreational fisherman needs a hook at the end of his line, for example.

For conventional fishermen, the circle hook design is being touted as the best conservation method since catch-and-release. Studies show circle hooks almost always result in lip-hooked fish, rather than deep hooking, which can cause high mortality rates on released fish. Buy two or three packs in varying sizes, depending on what type of fishing is to be done.

Picking out lures is iffy at best without personal or local knowledge of the habits and habitat of the fisherman's favorite haunts. Take a peek through his tackle boxes and look for the most battered lures, which will, of course, be his or her favorites. Take them to the tackle store with you, consult the salesman and buy new ones. Put the old ones back into the tackle box, and slip the new ones into the stocking.

Now everyone in a fishing family has heard tales of the big ones that got away -- big trout, giant bass, trophy stripers, monster blues. If you have heard those stories often enough to know them by heart, take a flyer and buy a landing net, which will run from about $10 up, depending on size and type of construction.

If your fisherman is catch-and-release only, think about a small camera he or she can take streamside or out on a small, open boat. Even those small, disposable cameras will work for snapshots and are waterproof. Cost is minimal.

For stream or river fishermen who wade the waters they fish, Bass Pro Shops has been advertising an interesting alternative to the traditional fishing vest. It is called the Arapaho Tri-Pack, and rather than fully enclose the chest, it is held on by adjustable straps. The result is a small, front-and-back pack with three zippered compartments that should be much cooler than the traditional vests. It has plenty of room for fly boxes, extra reels or spools and the day's lunch. The Tri-Pack costs about $30.

For hunters, camouflage caps, face masks, gloves and fanny packs all can make a day in the woods better -- and usually in the case of caps, masks and packs, one size fits all and prices are under $20.

Knives make good stuffers, with multipurpose knives always a good choice. Leatherman and Gerber have made very good multipurpose knives for several years, but Buck also has entered the market with its Buck Tool. Models are available with a variety of blades and tools, including pliers, wire strippers, saws, can openers, files and screw drivers. Best models have lock-back blades. Prices range from about $40 to $60.

Every fisherman needs a filet knife, and Rapala and Normark offer serviceable models between $8 and $20.

Hunters need a knife with a strong back. Buck offers an excellent sheath knife called the Zipper-R, which has a blade just over 4 inches long, a gut hook and a rubberized, textured handle for working in slippery conditions. It sells for about $50.

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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