I'm writing this article in the second half of October, and it's around this time of the year that I start to receive more and more emails from women. Unfortunately for me, nearly all of them have partners. And, unfortunately for them, I'm married!
Why do I receive emails from women? Quite simply, it's usually women who buy fishing gifts for anglers. Surprisingly, market research in angling is very sparse (practically non-existent!), so I'll make this figure up:
95% of gifts for anglers are bought by women
There, even though I made that up, I doubt anyone would argue the point. In fact, give it time and I bet you'll find somebody has 'researched' the subject via Google, stumbled across this page and quoted it without being bothered to read the rest. It goes on all the time!
Anyway, as much as I'd love to help every one of them to make an informed purchase and to receive an email just after Christmas telling me how happy their fishing-mad partner, friend or family member is, I simply don't have time to offer a one-to-one service (unless Dana Patrick, the lady who was in Meatloaf's “I Would Do Anything For Love” video, is really struggling. If that's the case, Dana, I'm free most days!). Not only is time an issue, but I'm scared I'll get it wrong. Anglers are funny creatures.
So, enough waffle, here's my Top Ten Tips For Buying Christmas Gifts For Fishermen (and women!). Some of the words will be underlined - this means that they are links. Click on them for a bit more information, if you like;
1. DON'T BUY ANY ITEM OF FISHING TACKLE
Great start, huh? You come here looking to buy a fishing gift and that's the best advice I can come up with. Let me explain why; unless you are an angler yourself, have been told by the angler in your life specifically what he or she wants, or have grilled their angling buddy as to what they really need, you WILL buy something that will not get used. You may get a smile and thanks on the day, as the present is unwrapped, but chances are that the item you paid good money for will sit in the bottom of a tackle box somewhere.
Angling is an enormous and very broad term. Think of it like reading; if you knew somebody was into reading, you wouldn't just walk into Waterstones and buy them the book Brain Protection in Cardiac Surgery, would you? If you did, chances are you've just blown £120 on a book they won't read! You may be better off looking at tips 7-10.
2. BUY THEM AN ITEM OF FISHING TACKLE
Okay, what's going on here? I've just you NOT to buy them an item of fishing tackle, now I'm saying the opposite!
Depending on the type of person you are and the type of relationship you have with the intended recipient, I see nothing wrong with ASKING them what they want for Christmas. If they say, “A new reel,” or something like that, ask them which one. To avoid any disappointment, phrase your question like this:
“I've got £xx put aside to spend on you this Christmas. Is there anything to do with fishing that you'd like?”
If the answer's “yes”, then interrogate them further and get exactly what it is they want. Okay, it's not the most romantic and spontaneous way of gift buying, but they'll be reminded of you every time they use that item. And they will actually use it if it's the right item!
Of course, if your beloved has already told you they “wish they had one of these” before and you've remembered, then even better. It would still be a surprise AND something they wanted. Bonus! Beware, though; there's a good chance he or she will have already bought it in the meantime. I'll let you into a little secret – us anglers are good at hiding our purchases from our partners!
A good safe bet is fishing clothing – having two good fishing jackets is not the end of the world, not to any angler. In fact, we collect such items!
3. COMPARE PRICES AND FIND A BARGAIN
The internet is great. No more traipsing up and down the High Street to check out the best deals (not that you'll find many tackle shops in the High Street. Most are on the outskirts of town). You have search engines to do your work for you. We've even got a Fishing Tackle Price Comparison Tool on Anglers' Net - http://www.anglersnet.co.uk/fishingtackle/ - this will grow over time, as more and more tackle dealers get online. We also occasionally feature Voucher Codes for some websites on Anglers' Net – these give you additional savings.
If your purchase is of significant value and you can't find a bargain, don't be afraid to ask. It always amazes me that us Brits think it's fine to ask for a discount if we're buying some piece of tat for 50p at a car boot sale, but wouldn't dream of doing so if we were buying a brand new item, even if it was £500! ASK – what the worst that can happen? I'll tell you – they say “no”. Whoopi-do!
When checking prices, please remember to check the delivery costs, too. Some are shocking.
4. CHECK FOR A PRICE PROMISE
Many leading websites offer a 'Price Promise'. Not all of them, but a good few. Chances are, you've researched what product you want to buy yourself, so they don't have to 'sell' it to you. You've done all the hard work and the only sales tool left available to them is price, hence internet tackle dealers have to be fairly cut-throat. A Price Promise is one way of doing this. If you find it cheaper elsewhere in a certain time-frame, they should at least refund the difference to you.
Examples of fishing tackle sites offering a Price Promise include TackleBargains and Lathams.
5. CHECK FOR A RETURNS POLICY
When buying online, you are afforded certain rights by various Distance Selling Regulations and, usually, by your credit card. However, if you're buying gifts in advance, you may well find that your cooling off period has expired by the time you find out that the gift you'd researched so well turned out to be the same one Aunt Mary just bought for him or her!
If the website you're buying from doesn't explicitly state that they have extended terms for gift returns (and if they do, print them out!), then email them in advance. Tell them you're buying a gift and would like to have an extended period to return it in, should it be wrong. If they want your business, they'll email back and agree. Again, print and store the email.
6. BUYER BEWARE
Don't be hasty buying online, or even in the High Street, come to that. Check that the site in question has a track record. A simple Google search for them will give you some idea, but don't necessarily get put off by one or two negative comments – people on the internet tend to be very vocal when something goes wrong, but satisfied customers tend to keep quiet. In most cases, you could almost guarantee that for every disgruntled internet poster, there are 2000 happy customers out there. More often than not, too, companies would have sorted out any problem straight away if the keyboard warrior had contacted them, instead of publishing their woes on forums and social networks!
Some fishing tackle websites also have reviews from customers on them. Take some of them with a pinch of salt, but they may help you a bit.
7. BUY A PERSONALISED GIFT
Does the angler in your life take photos when they go fishing? Chances are, they do. Technology is great, these days. If you can get your hands on one or more of those photos, you can creat a unique, personalised fishing gift.
For example, CLICK HERE.
I've used this company and love their results. Armed with just a photo, a credit/debit card and a bit of imagination, you can come up with all manner of personalised gifts. And it's not just restricted to anglers, either.
Mugs, framed photos, mousemats and the like are the obvious choices (and there's nothing wrong with either of those, by the way), but you can really let your imagination run wild. How about a photo cushion, for example? Or a stylish canvas print?
I used to shy away from this sort of thing, imagining it to be too expensive, but was surprised at just how cheap some of the stuff is, especially when you can personalise it to such a degree. And a personalised gift REALLY does show that you put some effort into choosing a present.
8. BUY A NOVELTY GIFT
Some people will think I've lost all credibility by saying 'Buy a novelty fishing gift', but let me explain. Do not spend a lot of money on a novelty gift. Every year, the department stores wheel out some amazing junk, slap the word 'angler' or 'fisherman' on it and sell it for inflated prices. Avoid that stuff like the plague.
However, if your budget is just a few quid and you want a quick and easy solution, there's nothing wrong with some of the stuff. Youngsters, especially, love fishing mugs and such items. I'm no youngster myself, at 24 and a bit years old (okay, I'm 39!), but I use a “No.1 Fisherman” mug nearly every day. And every time I do, I remember the person who bought it for me. I must confess that I don't just use it because of what it says on the outside – it's what I can get on the inside that is the deal clincher. It's the biggest mug I own!
9. BUY A FISHING MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
Does your angler read fishing magazines? Does he or she go to the shop to buy them? If the answer is yes to both, consider buying a fishing magazine subscription.
My apologies to any newsagents reading this (I used to work for Forbuoys many years ago, so I feel your pain!), but NOT buying a magazine subscription to a magazine that you buy all the time is plain daft. Not only is it usually cheaper (and delivered to your house, often before the shops get it), but you often get a free gift, too. Don't believe me? CLICK HERE to see a few examples and check out some of the deals! Use the 'Browse By Category' button at the top of the screen and you'll see a whole section dedicated to fishing magazines.
A magazine subscription is a great gift. To coin a really naff phrase, it's the gift that keeps on giving, as the recipient gets a reminder every week, or month, in the shape of a magazine!
10. FISHING BREAKS
Ever thought about buying a memory, rather than something tangible? I remember practically every fishing trip I go on, but even more so with fishing holidays. They stay with you for life.
There are 'Experience Day' companies out there offering some lovely one-day package deals, such as Red Letter Days and Great Days Out. You can even book fly-fishing trips with Orvis, who should know a thing or two about fly fishing!
However, if you fancy a longer trip, then the range is vast. The term 'Fishing Break' could mean anything from giving your angler some petrol money, food and permission to clear off onto their local carp lake for a few days, right up to accompanying them on a fortnight holiday to The Maldives, and pretty much anything in between.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of places available in the UK, especially if you're looking for a caravan holiday. There are limitless opportunities if your range (and budget) stretches a bit further. A fishing holiday takes a bit more to sort than an 'off-the-shelf' present, but it's worth the effort.
11. YOUR BONUS TIP
If you spend all that time, money and effort getting what you think is the perfect gift for the angler in your life and they throw it back in your face, send it to me. I'm easily pleased and it will save it from cluttering up your house or garage!
I hope that the above guide helps a bit. If it did, please share it with your friends. If you're still stuck, why not try the Anglers' Net Forums? Or give our page on Facebook a go – CLICK HERE.
Failing that, ditch the 'angling' idea altogether and visit another little site of mine, http://price-deals.co.uk !!!