Originally Published the Week of Dec. 7, 2016 in Western Outdoor News
About this time of year, I get a lot of “Santa” questions. It’s either from wives, girlfriends or kids asking what to buy for the guys.
Or, honestly, it’s a lot of guys thinking about buying stuff for themselves because of the sales. Or for their “buddies.”
When I worked and managed a tackle store many many years ago, I enjoyed the many ruses that guys used to buy their toys.
Of course, the most common one was simply paying cash so the purchase wasn’t traceable to the home budget. They would then boldy “hide” the new gear somewhere in the deepest recesses of the man-cave/garage so it wouldn’t be found.
More cleverly, two guys would conspire together.
Each guy purchased something the other wanted. It was wrapped and they exchanged the “gift.” Come Christmas morning, each announced joyfully to his respectively family, “Oh my! Look what my best fishing buddy bought me!”
Some guys would come to us at the tackle store with a “Santa’s list” of their own.
They knew full-well that their wives would come to the tackle store to make a purchase. It was their sincere hope that our staff would steer the thoughtful wife in the proper direction. “Oh honey! How did you know that’s what I always wanted? You’re the best!”
Well, the holiday season is upon us again.
Whether you’re purchasing for yourself or for someone else, there’s a few tips for hopefully scoring the right thing.
Of course, like everything else, a lot can be done online.
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, it’s a great place and there’s all kinds of deals to be found. If you have no inclination, time or ability to visit an actual tackle store then purchasing online is a no-brainer.
This is where you can find stuff like pliers, dikes, and lures. Stuff for boats and the things that go along with fishing like camping and outdoor things work well. What guy doesn’t like electronic fishing gadgets?
Books and videos are also great gifts. If you know proper sizes, it’s hard to go wrong. If in doubt, look into a gift certificate. This is especially true for clothing and footwear.
A number of charter operations also sell trips online that make a great gift. Or, give some thought to an actual fishing vacation. To someplace like Baja (hint-hint)!
You can also purchase fishing licenses online. That includes Mexican fishing licenses as well.
But, there’s some things that you probably shouldn’t purchase online if at all possible. Like a few other things in life.
For one, some items are just a bit too pricey to pick the “right one” to someone in a backroom or warehouse no matter how good they might be. Especially, if it’s a gift.
Or, if you’re not very knowledgeable about the item to begin with! It helps to talk to a real salesperson.
For another, some things in life just need to be touched and held and examined before you lay down your cash. Things like shoes or jewelry come to mind.
Additionally, no matter what you think, often no two items are the same!
That includes some fishing gear. Unlike say, a TV set…or a set of pots and pans…or a box of chocolates, I bet most folks don’t realize that no two fishing reels are alike. Guns can be like that. Guitars are like that. One item has “the feel.” Others just don’t have it.
I’ve been in a store and asked them to take out a certain fishing reel. I can try five of the exact same model, especially conventional reels. And no two will be exactly alike. The drags might feel different. One free-spools like a dream. The others might be a bit sticky.
Rods can be that way too. Depending on what the rod is going to be used for, the grips might be different. More important to me is the “taper” and the backbone of a rod. Where does it shut off (bend)? It’s something I like to check with my own hands.
Nothing against, Walmart, because there’s some good gear there and great folks, but if you can get to a tackle store that really knows their stuff you’ll be better off. You might pay a little more, but maybe not. However, you’ll get a better handle on making a good purchasing decision.
Even in some of the mega outdoor stores like Bass Pro or Cabelas find that “one guy” that knows his stuff. If you live in some place like Denver or even northern California, the staff might be more on top of salmon or flyfishing. But, I’ve found there’s usually that one guy who can steer you right.
If all else fails…gift certificates or gift cards.
Personally, I better get on my own horse. I haven’t even started yet!
That’s my story!
Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004. Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico www.tailhunter-international.com. They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront. If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: email@example.com
Or drop by the restaurant to say hi. It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!
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