If you’re anything like me, I’m sure that someone has accused you of being a difficult person to buy presents for. Whether it’s birthdays, Father’s Days or holidays, no one seems to know what to get me. So, like many of you, every year I have a fist full of gift cards to my favorite sporting goods stores – each entitling me to my own little shopping spree. But these thoughtful gifts do more than give you the ability to roam aisle after aisle of your favorite retailer, they give you a chance to load up your tackle box for the upcoming year – arming you with the tools you need to make this the year you catch the big ones.
So before you cash in your gift cards on tacky shirts and talking fish, here’s some of the things you’re sure to need in your boat this year.
A long, cold winter in the closet or the garage can be extremely damaging to fishing line. The normal wear and tear of scraping the line on rocks and stumps, the constant straining of the line as you wrench those big bucketmouths into the boat and sunlight all work together to weaken the structural integrity of the toughest, best-made fishing lines. Most pros respool their reels after every day of competition. Sure, it can be time consuming – especially when you’re tired – but you don’t want to miss the cut or a paycheck because a fish broke your line. At the store, look around and see which line best suits your needs. There are lines designed for every possible condition and technique. So start the year right—fresh line makes a difference.
If you were really good this year, maybe you’ve got enough money on the gift card to get a new rod or reel. Abu Garcia released two new reels this year, one round reel and one spinning reel, that I really like. The Record Reel is a heavy-duty round reel that might be the best one Abu Garcia has ever put out. It’s perfect for flipping jigs or retrieving crank baits and has all the features you need to land even the biggest fish. The Series 500 spinning reels are great for finesse fishing and small baits with smooth retrieves and great looks. Pick one of these reels up and you’ll feel the difference. You’ll want a new rod to mount your new reel on, too, so check out the new Berkley Series One rods. They’re high quality and very affordable, so even if you don’t have enough money on the gift card you won’t have to dig too deep into your pocket to take it home with you.
And finally, if you’ve got any money left over, this is a great time of year to pick up some really good deals on baits. Who knows where you’ll be able to fish this year or what the fish will be biting when you get there. I like to keep some various sizes and colors on board.
A trip to the sporting goods store is a great way to spend one of the cold winter days that stand in the way of you hitting the water. Take your kids or grandkids with you and pick them up something, too, that way you’re sure to have someone to share the experience with this year. So don’t let those gift cards go to waste, turn them into something that will help you catch the fish of a lifetime in 2006.
Larry Nixon is a former Bassmaster Classic winner with more than $1.5 million in career earnings on the BASS Tour. Nixon lives in Bee Branch, Ark.