Last-Minute Suggestions For Last-Minute Shoppers


THUNDER BAY – Jim Shepard of the Fishing Wire offers up some great last-minute gift tips for that special fishing enthusiast in your life.

If you’re looking for last-minute stocking items for the angler on your list, we offer a few simple suggestions. Two go small – because everyone loves fishing for panfish. Another suggestion hangs onto the big ones that sometimes get away. The last one might save your phone-or your life- in case of an unexpected dunking.

Berkley offers two options in artificial baits that we’ve had work for us.

Berkley BaitsFirst, their flicker shad (left) is a great small bait with lots of action. With a good retrieve, it’s nearly irresistible, imitating the unique “flicker” action of a baitfish on the run for its life. Available in a wide variety of colors and combinations, from black gold to exotics like firetiger, purple tiger and rainbow spectrum, each priced at $4.49, they’re not too-expensive to give in a variety of color combinations.

Along with the hardbait, we might suggest Berkley’s appropriately titled “Gulp! Alive!”. The Gulp! Alive! baits are more than lifelike looking bait. The entire series is designed to offer fish baits that look-like, feel-like, and (here’s the kicker) taste better than the real critter.

One inch crickets like the ones in the photo yielded a ton of fun this summer when used with nothing more complicated than a hook, a bobber and crappie pole. Nothing complicated, but a ton of fun catching panfish.

They’re considerably more durable and far easier-to-care-for than live baits. And what live bait can you use until the fish stop biting, then return to the container for flavor recharging.

One caution on the Gulp! Alive! baits…these baits have a distinctive aroma. It may be irresistible to fish, but it’s definitely not conducive to smiles from the wife if you don’t get the top back tightly. At $5.95 the pack, these crickets are far easier to take care of than the real critters – just like all the other baits in the Gulp! Alive! series.

And to go big or go home, you can’t beat braided fishing line. Despite all the bad rap you hear about braid (wears out eyes, abrades, etc) it’s what you want when you’re fishing deep cover and cranking lures while -hopefully- yanking out fish.

SpiderwireThis summer, we tried out SpiderWire’s Ultracast Fluoro Braid -and it had no problem muscling weedless lures through some tough patches of hydrilla along Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. We were using 30-pound line, a gracious plenty for anything we expected to encounter. Yet it was amazingly well-behaved, behaving like fluorocarbon line, not braid.

A trivia question you might want to ask all your angler pals.

What manufacturer/industry group actually came up with the idea?

They’ll offer all sorts of answers, but the idea came from Safariland. They make law enforcement equipment. A research team was working with the gel-spun polyethylene fibers used in bullet-proof vests and realized they might be used elsewhere. One application that caught on was Spiderwire.

You can get the Ultracast Fluoro Braid in 10 to 100 pound test and 125-1500 yard spools. The 300-yard spool of 30-pound test we used has an MSRP of $40.99, the 125-yarder is $20.99-$23.99.

Dry DocsAll of us carry digital gear, and nothing is as ubiquitous as our phone – or whatever our chosen know-it-all-device is called these days. If you’ve ever heard your service provider say “no repair, the unit’s been wet” you know the hazards of moisture.

Enter a good little gift idea at under $20. The DryDock waterproof Digit 01/02 case.

Dry Docs™ protect your gear from water and dust, and allow you to still use many of your items. Dry Docs offer a variety of sizes from small, waterproof cases from for fishing licenses and IDs to large ones for navigation charts. They also make Kindle, iPod or iPad cases. They’re simple enough, with a thick PVC-free film making a puncture-proof cover with a positive snap Ziplock-type enclosure. Learn more at

Last minute suggestions, but sometimes all you need is a hint of an idea.

The Fishing Wire offers news and information for fishing enthusiasts.

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