Saint Nick’s top picks
  |  First Published: December 2005

Every year it is the same dilemma: fisherman need to find a way of hinting that they want fishing gear and not new socks, a sprinkler or some crappy garden statue left under the tree. Even non-fishers face tough decisions about what to get the mad keen angler on their gift list.

Fortunately, with a huge resurgence in the amount of quality, innovative tackle coming into the country and being made locally, there are plenty of options this Christmas. The trick is to get the right information to the right person. I recommend drawing a big circle around your chosen item in this magazine or in a tackle catalogue and leaving it in a conspicuous place. Try putting it on the refrigerator, the television, the dining table or the front door. Someone should find it and get the hint.

Below are just a few of the great new items to hit the shelves of tackle stores over the past 12 months. Specialist tackle shops are more likely to have them than the chain stores and the staff will be able to give you the advice you need and offer alternative choices if necessary.


These are always a popular item at Christmas time. When the weather or other elements prevent anglers from hitting the water, the next best thing is slip a DVD into the player, flop into your favourite armchair and have a few cold drinks. Many old titles are now available on DVD and several new titles have hit the shelves as well.

Hooked on Snapper and Tuna by Dave Butfield includes techniques for targeting snapper and tuna on both bait and soft plastics. It also has useful tips on trolling and tackle choice. On a journey to the Eyre Peninsula, Dave and several other anglers catch tuna, samsonfish, snapper, kingfish and several other species. This title retails for around $40. Adam Royter’s recent DVD, developed in conjunction with Berkley soft plastics, contains 90 minutes of information on soft plastic selection, presentation and techniques. The recommended retail price is around $20.

Another great plastics technique DVD is the Atomic DVD with Tim ‘The Bream’ Morgan and Gary Howard. It has plenty of great tips, hints and techniques to help you consistently catch fish on soft plastics, and it retails for around $14.95.

Another good gift idea is the television series A River Somewhere, which is available in a twin DVD set containing all 13 episodes plus a double CD soundtrack of the original music. Rob Sitch and Tom Gleisner are better known for their work on the television program The Panel and their two world-renowned movies The Castle and The Dish. There is only a small amount of flyfishing content on A River Somewhere, but there is lots of interesting information about the places they visited and the amusing situations they often found themselves in. The entire box set of two DVDs and two CDs retails for around $60.


Deepwater jigging is fast becoming a popular method of catching a variety of offshore species. There are too many new jigs on the market for me to even consider listing them all, but the range of jig storage bags has been quite limited until just recently.

Shout has released a series of System Jig Bags, including several different storage systems that you can add to as your range of jigs increases. There are individual sleeves which hold five long jigs or nine short jigs. Four of these sleeves can then be stored inside a larger jig case. Once you fill three jig cases, you can store all of these inside a larger jig case.

The most impressive item for me was Shout’s #127010 attaché-style jig system, which fits 21 short jigs and 10 long jigs. It also has a pocket for leaders and other items, and two of them will fit into a larger case if necessary. The cases are all well made and designed to last, and they vary in price between $35 and $200.


These fishy stubby coolers will make a great gift or stocking-stuffer for the angler on your list. Renowned marine artist Dave Pearce has created this range of neoprene can and stubby coolers that feature popular fish species such as blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, snapper and brown trout. The hand-painted look of these coolers really makes them stand out from the crowd and they are guaranteed to create some interest at your next barbecue. The recommended retail price is around $13.


Enclosed in a heavy-duty plastic case, the Dockside Fillet Kit includes a knife sharpener, serrated knife/scaler, 6” stainless steel knife, 8” stainless steel knife, stainless scissors, fillet glove, cutting board and combination scale/tape measure and compass. This all-in-one kit retails for under $40.


Daiwa is not only one of the industry leaders in tackle technology, it also has a huge array of accessories to accompany its products. One handy little item released this year is the spare spool case. The large model holds two spare spools between sizes 4000-6000 and retails for around $30. The medium size can protect two spools in the 1500-3500 size and retails for around $25. Both spool cases feature a zippered lid, neoprene spool divider and external spool and line data card to record the information of spools stored inside.


For many years Redington Rods has been an extremely popular brand in the USA, thanks to the quality and reasonable pricing of its rods. Redington has recently been sold to Sage Manufacturing, which is widely considered to be the best fly rod company in the world.

Redington also produces some exceptional quality fly rods, such as the new CPS series, and its range of spin and baitcast rods will interest most anglers. The range includes 14 one-piece, nine two-piece and three three-piece spin rods as well as 15 one-piece and seven two-piece trigger-grip rods. Recently, due to the demands of Australian anglers, Redington has released an additional four one-piece trigger grip rods.

All of these spinning and baitcast rods feature Fuji guides and cork rear and fore-grip, and retail for between $150 and $200. They are backed by unconditional lifetime warranties to cover you in the case of any breakage, even accidental.

I am extremely happy with the seven models I own and I highly recommend them for the serious angler who wants performance at a reasonable price.


This double-sided wallet has 10 clip-seal plastic bags on one side to store all manner of soft plastics, spinnerbaits and leaders, and a clear stowaway box on the other for jigheads, minnow lures and jigs. The two zippered sides fold together for easy carrying with the soft-grip rubber handle. It is sage green in colour and is embroidered with both the Berkley and Powerbait logos. All up, it’s a smart looking gift for under $30.


Like DVDs and videos, books make great Christmas presents. These first two titles came out a few days before Christmas last year (which was too late for this column’s deadline). The Book of Lures by Tim Simpson and Ron Calcutt includes sections on lure selection, finding and targeting fish, basic lure families, lines and leaders, lures for locations and handy knots to know. It contains everything you need to know to target anything from trout to billfish and retails for around $50.

Frank Prokop’s Lure Encyclopedia contains information such as depth, action, measurements, manufacturer, trolling characteristics, physical attributes and other useful information including pictures on the 1065 lures tested. The Lure Encyclopedia is a great asset to any angler interested in lure fishing and retails for around $35.

Another good stocking stuffer would be one of the 2006 Tide Guides, which are invaluable when planning a trip in advance. A great addition for any angler, the Tide Guides start from $5 and feature useful information on fish species and angling regulations.


Keen gamefishing anglers will know the name Black Bart, as it is one of the most popular skirted trolling lure brands on the world stage. Captain Bart Miller has been in business for 42 years making lures that feature flash-and-glow inserts in the head and the Pro-Balance weighting system. The heads are made of space-age non-breakable high-impact plastics, which are guaranteed not to chip, break or crack. The range consists of 15 light-tackle lures, 10 medium-tackle lures, 20 heavy-tackle lures and four teaser lures. Black Bart lures are available in 40 colour combinations and have the reputation of being ‘dangerously perfect’. They retail from around $70 each.


This nifty little device is designed to eliminate the problem of trying to get thin leaders through the tiny eyes of trout fly hooks. A magnet holds the hook in place and the leader line slides along a groove in the device, which directs the leader through the eye of the hook. The frustrating task of attaching a trout fly to your leader, especially when your hands are cold or you have gloves on, is made much easier with this device. It retails for around $13 at good flyfishing stores and comes with a cord so you can hang it around your neck.


With so much quality, innovative gear entering the market over the past year, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a good present this Christmas. Specialist tackle shops are more likely to have the latest and greatest gear and gadgets, and they generally offer gift vouchers if the enormity of their range makes it hard for you to decide. There’s not much time until Christmas, so start making that list of gifts to ensure you get what you really want. Hopefully, Saint Nick’s top picks will do the trick!


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