Santa, baby, I need a rod and reel

Don’t let your Christmas gift ideas go to the dogs. When in doubt about what to give a sportsman this Christmas, listen to an expert.

Every year I get phone calls from my friend’s wives, family members and (her) girl friends, asking what they should get my friends for Christmas. Fortunately, most times I can come up with something the friend has mentioned, or I know he needs, or just an overall suggestion.

One particular friend’s wife really doesn’t know anything about her hubby’s fishing and hunting habits (she refers to it all as his “hunting and fishing stuff”), but she knows he enjoys him time in the woods and on the water, so she tries really hard to come up with useful Christmas, birthday and anniversary gifts.

We’re on a roll now with him liking everything for the past several years and last Christmas she suggested I do my December column as a “wish list” for wives and families of sportsmen.

She said women are much better than men at taking hints and leaving the magazine on the breakfast table open to this column would be enough to pique a woman’s attention.

That might be so, but I don’t know. What I would suggest is leaving the magazine open to this column and highlighting a particular item or idea that interests you. I believe you’ll agree even a man that read this far and saw a section highlighted would realize it was a hint.

The bottom line is I made a note last Christmas on my Outlook calendar and here’s the “gifts-for-sportsmen” column.

I don’t know much about fresh water fishing, so I won’t venture there and possibly make mistakes. I’m also not an avid hunter any longer, so the portion on hunting will be short but will offer some places to look to find excellent information.

These gift ideas will range from under $10 to thousands of dollars, so you pays your money and takes your pick.

I wish everyone lots of success in suggesting and receiving the perfect gift.

• One of the best and easiest gifts to give is a subscription to North Carolina Sportsman Magazine. The subscription is for a year and brings hunting and fishing to your favorite sportsman’s favorite reading location. The subscription cost is $19.95 and the first 200 gift subscriptions will receive a $10 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shop.

If you’d prefer a subscription to our sister publication, South Carolina Sportsman, the subscription cost there is only $9.95 through December 15 but doesn’t include a gift certificate. Order subscriptions by phone at 1-800-538-4355 or on-line at or

• A trip to one of the Sportsman Fishing Schools is a perfect gift for the angler who has the latest in tackle and accessories. These schools offer multiple sessions each hour and cover fishing from flounder to mountain trout. Numerous equipment samples and door prizes are awarded, and each adult participant is registered to win a grand prize — a Triumph 190 Bay Boat with a Mercury 115-hp, four-stroke outboard and EZ loader trailer.

Schools are March 17 at Raleigh and March 31 at Columbia, S.C. Advance adult registration is $65 and $40 for additional family members. Registration by phone at 1-800-538-4355 or on-line at or

• An excellent recent fascination with fishermen, especially saltwater fishermen, is the Berkley line of Gulp baits. There are several Berkley receiving lots of acclaim and they appear to work well, if anglers’ testimonials are true (wink-wink).

The ones being mentioned most by guides and tournament fishermen are the shrimp, swimming minnows and crabs. Your local tackle shop should be able to suggest which are the hot sizes and colors in their areas. The prices usually begin around $5.95.

• Charts are always a great gift for fishermen. Four companies that feature laminated coastal Carolina charts are Maps Unique, Nautical Publications, Sealake Fishing Guides and GMCO Maps and Charts. All have been updating charts over the last year and some are indeed the latest and greatest.

Maps Unique also offers an Electronic Version that begins will all its charts on a single CD, with options for plotting personal fishing spots, saving and printing way-point lists and much more.

One of GMCO’s favorites is a waterproof chartbook of all coastal N.C. charts from South Carolina to Virginia.

These charts should be available through a favorite boating or fishing dealer, but the companies have direct lines and web sites for finding charts the dealer doesn’t have.

For information, visit:

• Maps Unique (Maps Unique Charts), 910-458-9923,;

• Nautical Publications (the Grease Chart), 1-800-326-3567 or 252-208-2110,;

• Sealake Fishing Guides (Sealake Waterway and Ocean Fishing Guides), 1-800-411-0185,

The smaller charts will begin around $13.95 and range to $49.95 and the GMCO Chartbook is $34.95, while the Maps Unique Electronic (Standard) Version costs $79.95 with an upgrade charge (available after initial purchase) to the Premium Version).

• Cast nets are always a good bet for saltwater anglers. They begin with 3-foot models (open to 6-feet in diameter) and go to 12-footers (standard) with even larger versions available by custom order.

Betts Nets is a N.C. company that covers this spectrum well. Their nets are available through dealers only and begin at approximately $19.95 for some of the smaller nets and extend to just over $150 for several of the larger Super Pro Series nets.

• Another unique new product is the LoungAir Convertible Outdoor Chair (chair/bed/lounger/inclined lounger). With three air chambers, the base, seat and arm/back support can be individually adjusted for each users preferred comfort range. I have found the LoungAir to be excellent boat seating. LoungAirs aren’t yet available in stores.

There are two sizes, small (white) and large (blue) and both come with a portable, rechargeable inflation pump. LoungAirs sell for $129.99 and are available at or 1-877-240-6158.

• Fish-Ng Accessories offers several fishing accessories many fishermen find invaluable. Fish-Ng’s “Mr. Chummer” grinder is manufactured with specific grinding plates for grinding chum for many different fishing activities. It’s available in various stages from a grinder unit to a complete grinding setup with gimbal mount, bait/cutting tray and the grinder. The basic grinder begins at $89 for the smaller size and goes through $199 for the complete setup and the larger size grinder.

Mr. Chummer is available at select dealers or direct from Fish-Ng Accessories at or 1-800-720-FISH (3474) or 252-353-8902.

Fish-Ng also offers a pair of electric-reel drives for fishermen who feel the need for a motorized unit. The Precision Auto Reel and Precision Auto Reel High-Torque are manufactured to fit a variety of Penn and several Daiwa reels. Fish-Ng also stocks a selection of reels, rods, line and other accessories for the buyer who prefers to get it all in one place and assembled.

Prices for the reel drives begin at $499 and increase according to the parts and accessories added. Precision Auto Reels are available at select dealers or direct from Fish-Ng Accessories at or 1-800-720-FISH (3474) or 252-353-8902.

• Star Rods offers several lines of rods and all are good values, but the newest line, the Plasma Series, stands above all else. These rods are built on the best blanks with the best components available. They could best be described as production custom rods. The Plasma Series rods are available in spinning, casting and offshore models.

Star Rods are available at dealers and the company offers a directory for hard-to-find models through their web site at Suggested retail for the Plasma Series rods begins at $199.

• Penn is shaking up the fishing world with the introduction of its new International Torque line of reels. The Torque Series features a 6.3-1 retrieve ratio, the ability to achieve extreme drag settings, excellent freespool/casting capabilities and should be available in three sizes by Christmas. The Torque 100 holds 450 yards of 12-pound-test mono or 550 yards of 30-pound braid and is rated for a maximum of 25 pounds of drag. The Torque 200 holds 450 yards of 16-pound mono or 450 yards of 50-pound braid and is rated for a maximum of 32 pounds of drag. The Torque 300 has a little more capacity at 360 yards of 30-pound mono or 80-pound braid and a maximum drag of 32 pounds.

• For hunters, one of our editors wrote a series of comprehensive reviews of rifles, shotguns and shooting optics.

The most current was a review of shotguns in last month’s (November) issue. This article featured information about Benelli, Beretta, Browning, Charles Daly, Kimber, Mossberg, Remington, Rossi and SKB models.

The review of rifles was in the September issue and featured Browning, Henry, Kimber, Marlin, Remington, Savage, Sig Arms, Thompson Center and Weatherby rifles.

A review of optics in the August issue featured information about Bushnell, Leupold, Optronics, Pentax, Redfield, Simmons, Swarovski, Trijicon, Weaver and Zeiss products.

The governing factor when I buy gifts for sportsmen or advise their wives is when I can’t come up with a specific item, I buy or suggest something that’s new, looks exciting and I think I will have fun helping him use or learn how to use.

It’s amazing how well this gift philosophy works.

Merry Christmas to all.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1171 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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