FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Shopping for the outdoors person on your holiday gift list can be difficult because of the abundance of gear and gadgets, especially if you're not that familiar with that person's particular interests.
Instead of buying a hiker or angler or paddler or diver a thoughtful, yet useless, gift -- and I've got a closet full of them -- find out what that person is into and shop at a reputable retailer.
"You can go in there and ask questions and the people will teach you," said Tom Greene of Custom Rod and Reel in Lighthouse Point. "Any good tackle store will give you a guaranteed return in case it's not what they want."
Greene said wahoo have been plentiful offshore and he's been selling a lot of trolling lures. A good stocking stuffer is a Clark spoon, which sells for $4.95 and $5.95, "because of all the Spanish mackerel on the beach. Those are things that people are buying every day," Greene said.
Also popular are SFE fishing kites for sailfish, Daiwa electric kite reels (which sell for $900) and Rugged Shark boat shoes (about $80), which are like comfortable fishing sneakers that can get wet without falling apart.
Footwear is one of the biggest sellers at Capt. Harry's Fishing Supply in Miami, specifically the Vibram FiveFingers (vibramfivefingers.com), which are the closest thing to being barefoot without any of the disadvantages.
"I can't tell you how many of those things have sold. It's absolutely off the chart," Harry Vernon III said.
Vernon wears the FiveFingers, which look like gloves for your feet, when fishing on his boat. They are ideal for other water sports such as surf fishing, kayaking and canoeing, and they are popular with runners and other athletes because they build strength in the feet and lower legs.
Here are some other suggestions that are sure to make the recipients smile:
If you're shopping for a deer hunter who likes to read, you can't go wrong with Pete Bodo's new book Whitetail Nation: My Season in Pursuit of the Monster Buck (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 306 pages).
The book chronicles the 2008 hunting season, during which Bodo's goal was to shoot a buck with big antlers. A longtime outdoorsman who is a senior writer and blogger for Tennis magazine, Bodo writes with humor and insight. The result is a fun read that is entertaining and educational.
Bodo, who lives in New York City and has a small farm in upstate New York, hunted in his home state as well as in Montana, Texas and Pennsylvania. He doesn't shy away from writing about his screw-ups and he also takes on issues such as pay-to-hunt operations, deer management and the hunter's insatiable urge to buy the newest gizmos such as plastic squeeze vials of powder to detect the wind direction.
"As far as I can tell, that powder is simple talc, so the only difference between the Whitetail Magic Industries product and a generic container of talc from Walgreen's is that the former goes for about $4.99 for a third of an ounce, while Walgreen's will sell you something like two pounds of talc for $1.89. But it doesn't come in a conveniently small container with the image of a monster buck on it.
Whatever you do outdoors in South Florida, you need to bring water. Instead of taking disposable plastic bottles of store-bought water, save money and the environment by filling Nalgene bottles with tap water from home, which has been shown in several studies to be as good or better than the stuff you buy.
Nalgene is a hard plastic that has no BPAs and containers come in an array of styles and colors. The new 20-ounce Multi Drink has a pivoting, lockable straw for sipping and a mouthpiece for slurping. The new 24-ounce On The Fly can be opened with one hand.
The leak-proof containers can also be filled with hot coffee, milk, soda, juice or a sports drink without staining. They can also be used for trail mix and other snacks that you want to keep dry. Cost is $14.99 for the Multi Drink and $12.99 for the OTF and they're available online at nalgene-outdoor.com.
Plastic frogs are popular with South Florida bass anglers and tournament pro Ish Monroe has designed one that's easy to use and effective.
Monroe said he took the best features of all the other frogs on the market to come up with the Snag Proof Phat Frog (visit snagproof.com) and he designed it so it can be fished as is right out of the package. The frog floats and does not fill with water. It can be used in open water as well as in heavy grass. Available at tackle stores and online, the Phat Frog comes in eight colors and retails for $9.95.
Real good decoys
Duck season has opened in Florida and good decoys are a great gift for waterfowlers. Greenhead Gear (greenheadgear.com) has realistic-looking decoys that come in a variety of poses to bring ducks in close.