FISHING is the largest accessory sport in the world. You only need to browse the shelves of any large tackle store to see the immense amount of items available.
While not all of these items are ‘needs’, there are definitely plenty of ‘wants’ for the average tackle rat. I see it every week - keen anglers browsing the shelves just looking for a new lure, a better reel or the latest gadget to hit the market.
Christmas is the time when friends, relatives and partners have a hard time finding suitable gifts for the angler in their life. I hate getting jocks and socks just like most other anglers, so I decided to make some suggestions that might just be the perfect item to find under the Christmas tree on the December 25.
Fish gripper tools are designed to grab hold of a fish’s mouth. These tools make handling and release easier, and they help the user to avoid the sharp teeth and gill spikes on species such as jacks and flathead.
The Boga-Grip was the first gripper on the market, and it’s still imported by sportfishing identity Jack Erskine. Boga-Grips have either a 15lb or 30lb inbuilt scale and are made of the highest quality stainless steel. The Boga-Grip is still the Rolls Royce of grippers, and retails for around $330.
Similar products have hit the market over the last few years. The Berkley Big-Game Lip-Grip is also made of stainless steel but it’s cheaper, retailing for around $50. When the fish is within reach you just pull the handle back to open the jaws and then release pressure until they close and grip the jaw of the fish.
Kokoda’s Talon-Grip is a little dearer at just under $100, but it can be pre-loaded before the fish is close and you only need to push a button to lock the jaws on. It also has a 12kg scale built in, so you can accurately measure your catch.
Weighing scales have been available for many years, however, they’re often hard to read and many require lots of loving care to keep the rust at bay on parts such as springs (which can’t be stainless). Thankfully, affordable digital scales are now available and give very accurate readings to keep exaggerated guesses at bay. Berkley has a 20lb model for anglers who like working in the old increments, and this retails for around $50.
Rapala has two models available – an 8kg and a 25kg. Both will last for around 500 hours on a 9V battery and you can store the weights of your last ten fish, which is perfect for tournament anglers. These units have large easy-to-read numbers, a backlight for night fishing, and will shut themselves off after four minutes if you forget. They retail between $100 and $120 and are the best hand-held digital scales I’ve seen in this price bracket.
Keen sportfishers are always keen to acquire more lures, even though most of these anglers usually have 10 times more than they need at any particular time! This obsession usually results from wanting to cover all options and have the right lure for every opportunity that arises.
Soft plastics have been around for many years but over the last year they have taken the market by storm, thanks largely to the BREAM and BASS tournaments which have encouraged anglers to try different techniques. There are many good quality plastics to choose from, and even the most fussy fish can often be enticed to strike one of these realistic presentations.
Plastics are the perfect offering for the first-time lure user to try, and some of the latest brands are Eco-Gear, Atomic, Assassin, Bass Master, Tackle Tactics, Squidgies, Slider, AusSpin, Storm, Gene Larew and Mann’s. Suitable chemically sharpened jig-heads are also available at the better tackle stores, and the staff should be able to advise you on the right plastic, colour and jig-head for a variety of fish species. Prices vary between $3 and $15 per packet, depending on brand and style.
Holdzit Tool Savers have been around for quite a few years, but few anglers appreciate how good they are until they use one. Every keen angler uses tools such as de-hooking pliers, sharpening files, split-ring pliers, cutters and crimping pliers, all of which go rusty if you don’t care for them. Tool Savers are soft plastic cases that contain special foam, drenched with WD-40 or similar, to keep the rust at bay. The tools slide easily in and out as you want to use them.
There are several models of tools savers available to suit a variety of pliers, files and other tools, and some even have a belt loop that allows them to be a handy pouch while fishing. They come with a small satchel of WD-40 to get you started and retail between $20 and $40.
Gloves are always a popular gift because they’re not the kind of thing most anglers would buy for themselves. Filleting gloves provide a protective hand covering for your non-knife hand while you’re cleaning fish. They are woven from stainless steel wire coated with a special polymer and will stop a knife cutting you if you happen to slice it across your hand. The point of a knife can still penetrate them slightly, but these gloves will stop any serious injury or general cuts. Many butchers and chefs also wear them while cutting up food, and they can be put in a washing machine for cleaning.
The two brands of filleting gloves that I know of are Intruder and Normark. They are available in sizes from small to extra large and retail for between $35 and $50.
Anglers love to sit down and watch a fishing video, especially on those days when the weather keeps them off the water. You can always learn something from a video, and the fishing action usually gets an angler’s heart pumping faster.
Some of the more recent titles to hit the market are Dam Hot 3, Breamin’ 1 and 2, Fishing Sydney, The Art of Beach Worming and Sunshine Coast Snapper. There are also plenty of other top titles put together by some of Australia’s best anglers. Videos range in price from $20 for older titles to $35 for more recent titles.
A watch is a great gift idea for the fisherman who has almost everything, and Casio manufactures five models that provide anglers with handy information. Different models have varying combinations of features, including a barometer, temperature, compass, tide readings, moon phase, stop-watch and altimeter. The latest model to hit the market is the Tide-Graph SPS 201, which retails for around $180. Other models retail between $130 for the Fish In Time to $499 for the Triple Sensor. They are available from some tackle stores and marine outlets and are distributed by the Australian Fishing Network (AFN).
Samurai Rub-Ons are quality stickers made for the fishing fanatic. You can stick these slogans onto boats, cars, windows, tackle boxes, eskies and a host of other items.
There is a wide range to choose from with many popular fish species represented with sayings such as Jack Attack, Bad Ass Bass, Fear No Flathead, Jack Lives Here and Just Breamin’. Warren Nicholson, who makes the Samurai Rub-Ons, can also do boat names and other custom work. Most Rub-Ons range from $6 to $13, which makes them affordable for all members of the family.
Fibreglass fish replicas are a great way to decorate an angler’s rumpus room, bar or office. Mould sizes range from 40cm to 50cm long, and the replicas are meticulously painted to closely imitate the real thing. You can choose from several species of billfish, tuna, mackerel, tarpon, sharks, trout and many other fish, and you can also get dolphins, whales and porpoises as well. There are several brands available, retailing for up to $60.
Most of us enjoy increasing our knowledge with a good book to pass the day when the weather doesn’t allow fishing, or to look through a map so that we can explore areas more easily and safely. Several new book titles have hit the shelves over the last year, including Gregory’s Fishing Guide to Brisbane and Surrounding Areas (RRP$27.95), Crocs and Barramundi by Janek Gazecki (RRP$28), Beacon to Beacon 5th Edition (due early December, RRP$29.95) and the latest Qld Transport Tide Guide for 2003 (RRP$6.85). There are also three new fishing atlases for Queensland, NSW and Victoria for $22 each.
If you’re looking for a fish-identification book, check out Marine Fishes of The Great Barrier Reef and South-East Asia. It’s the best I have ever seen and retails for around $32.95. There are also plenty of other titles available at the larger tackle stores and selected book stores.
These are just some of the great new products around that will be a big hit with the angler on your Christmas list. Most tackle stores, marine outlets and book stores should be able to make a few other suggestions if you tell them the type of gift you’re after or a little about the kind of fishing the person does. If you’re still stumped, just buy a gift voucher and let the recipient pick their own tackle and accessories.
If you want to leave a hint for someone else, just circle an item on this page and leave your QFM in a conspicuous place. I’m sure any angler will appreciate one of these gifts more than jocks, socks, gardening gloves or some new blades for the lawn-mower!
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