Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

December 13th, 2004

'Tis Better to Give...
By Dave Micus

This is the time of year when I wish no one knew I was a fly fisher. Between my birthday (3 days before Christmas-mark your calendars) and Christmas, I'll receive more than my fair share of well-intentioned fly fishing gifts that will be thoroughly useless. And while that might sound ungrateful, it's true.

Those who don't fly fish can't grasp the fact that a fly rod can cost $600, a reel $500; line $60; hell, it's hard to grasp for those of us who do. And as most gift givers frequent stores like WalMart, not Orvis (if they did they'd be familiar with the $600 rod), guess where the gift for the family fly fisher will come from?

Now it's not that I feel fly fishers should have a register at the local fly shop (though that's a pretty good idea); I'd just prefer that those purchasing gifts for me not waste their money on junk. But no matter how I try, I just can't seem to get the point across to gift givers that I pretty much have everything I need, fly fishing wise. Saying so only makes them more "creative" in their fly-fishing gift hunt.

Clothing with ridiculous mottos (Women want me, Fish Fear Me; The Way to a Man's Heart is Through His Fly; and on and on ad nauseum) seems to be a popular gift idea for the non-fishing shopper. Last year I received a t-shirt with "here fishy fishy fishy" emblazoned across the front, not exactly the Gift of the Magi. As if that wasn't enough (more than enough), I also was given a matching cup and hat. Not only would I never use these things, I had to question what impression I give to make someone think that I even might. Needless to say all three items are buried in the back of the closet until they can be recycled.

Then there are those who put a little more thought into their gifts, but the results are equally dismal. I have a fly tying kit, purchased by a well-wisher with the assurance from the K-mart associate that "it's a real good one." Needless to say, the vice is junk, the materials worse, and it was a waste of the $25 it cost. The thought was kind, the intention good, and I wouldn't expect a non-fly fisher to realize that a grade 3 chicken neck cost more than $25, but the fact remains the present is useless. The kit joined the here fishy fishy fishy ensemble in the back of the closet.

The worse, though, are those kitschy novelty items that, in some inexplicable bout of collective hysteria, take America by storm. If you don't know what I mean, just think "dancing Santa." Anglers are cursed with our own version of the dancing Santa: Big Mouth Billy Bass. For those of you just out of a prolonged coma, Big Mouth Billy Bass is a rubber fish mounted on a plastic plaque that wags its tail and moves its lips to such classic tunes as "Don't worry, be happy." Big Mouth Billy Bass spawned a whole school of singing fish-trout, muskee, pike. And, yes, I got one for Christmas.

Thankfully there are no new Billy Bass clones on the market this year, but I am resigned to receiving at least one goofy shirt, and I'll do my best to laugh and act pleased before burying it in the back of the closet. But before I sound too bitter, let me stress that some good has come on this exercise of reflecting on past gifts, as it has caused me to begin composing my Christmas list for my fly fishing friends:

    Dave Rosset: Here fishey fishey fishey hat (never worn)

    Mike Flanagan: Here fishey fishey fishey mug (never used)

    Gary Henderson: Here fishey fishey fishey t-shirt (dyed watermelon)

    Jed Proujansky: Big Mouth Billy Bass (hardly played)...

After all, it's the thought that counts. ~ Dave

About Dave:

Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor. He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats) and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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