Monday 1 December 2014

MCX's Christmas Stocking 2014

Happy Christmas: it's that time of year again.  My first thought was "last year's post was quite popular, so I'll do it again."  Like all first thoughts it seemed sensible when it floated into my head.  However, slower consideration caused me to hesitate, because it became apparent that I didn't have very much new or original to offer.  Why's that?  Well, when I wrote last year's I wasn't thinking ahead!  My intent then was to identify a range of affordable things that were useful, good value and would fit into a stocking.  As this area of salmon fishing kit is little affected by leaping technological advances or more significantly, gross marketing hype (elsewhere the abundance of the latter is never constrained by the lack of the former), then the range of suitable recommendations doesn't change much from year to year.

So why bother?  First, only my most loyal and methodical readers will recall that I did a post last year and seek it out.  Energy is at a premium at this time of year, so I'm lending a helping hand.  Second, there's an inevitable temptation to expand the parameters in order to add a little interest.  To that end I've added 2 more sections, one covering an item that I've found to be really good during prolonged use; and the second, a remarkable offer.  Third, the Finns claim that Father Christmas lives above the Arctic Circle beyond Rovaniemi.  If you leave his elves to their own devices they'll fill your stocking with Vision goodies rather than what follows!

Stocking Fillers

Mostly these are hardy perennials, subject to the usual criteria, in that they all:

  • Work well and add value on the river
  • Are cheap enough to consider putting in a Christmas stocking
  • Offer good quality and value for money
  • Can be purchased without technical knowledge by internet or phone
  • Fit in a large sock


Yes, it's them again, the Snowbee fingerless gloves.   As you get older you tend to wear gloves more often, and up here in Yorkshire we view them as essentials.  At only £10 they are real value, effective and remarkably durable (mine have done 11 seasons).  You can spend £50 on Simms if you wish, but I doubt they're common up here. Mrs Christmas didn't pick up the blog-hint last year, so I've sent an e-mail round the family asking for a new pair.


I always glue my knots and haven't lost a fish to knot failure in the past decade.  In my view, Loon Knot Sense comes out top for salmon fishing.  It forms a nice clear blob that you can shape before exposing it to sunlight for near-instantaneous setting.  I still carry normal Super Glue in my tool pack for repair work, but don't use it for knotting.

Finding a leak in your waders rates quite highly in the gloom stakes, so keep a fresh tube of Aquasure in your tackle box. 

Yes, it's still the Best Little Fly Box

This pocket sized gem from Snowbee costs only £20, holds a dozen tubes and trebles securely and is about the size of a cigarette carton.  It's another triumph of value design, and I don't find its limited capacity any sort of handicap whilst fishing.  Even with only 12 to choose from I didn't run out of choices, and I don't need any more reasons for indecision.

Forceps and Pliers

In my last post, Lessons from 2014, I highlighted the essential requirement for a good pair of forceps and announced the start of my hunt for suitable lockable pliers at a price below the King's Ransom £159.  I found lots of stainless steel point-nosed pliers (at prices as low as £12.99) but none of them were lockable, and you do need to be able to let go of them if something more urgent happens.

These nifty things at £18.99 from Sportfish are a half way house between forceps and pliers.  They're big enough, the right shape and have a nice rubbery grip to get a good hold powerful hold on them; and they have a cunningly simple locking mechanism.  I haven't used them yet on the river, but thought them good enough to buy for myself when I saw them in Farlows during a business trip to London last week.

Good Kit

Warm Trousers

In the colder parts of the past 3 seasons I have been wearing a pair of Simms Cold Weather trousers.  They key features are the micro-fleece lining and the breathable hydrophobic exterior coating. Depending on the temperature they can be worn on their own, or as Layer 3 of a system (e.g. 1+3; 2+3; 1+2+3).  They are seriously good kit, very warm (whole day sub-zero), well finished and nicely cut for British shape.  The hydrophobic coating comes into its own when you fall in.  Having tested its properties twice, I can confirm that it works brilliantly, keeping your legs completely dry and allowing you to fish out the day.  In contrast, wet jeans or cotton trousers under your waders will bring fishing to an unpleasant and immediate halt.

At £85 they're not cheap and they won't fit in a normal stocking.        I reckon they'll see me out, so they rate as excellent value on a per year basis.  They're one of the very best things I've bought in the past 5 years.

Good Offer

Here's an idea for a serious Christmas present.  Angling Active are currently offering the Loop Multi #9/12 reel at £70 off.

The Multi has been around for 10 years or so, during which it has earned a reputation for ruggedness, reliability and smooth operation.  It has huge line capacity and the mass to balance 14 and 15 foot rods.  At its heart is the Loop sealed drag system which you find throughout their range.

This offer may suggest that the production of the Multi is about to end, but unless you're the person who really must have the latest gear, this is an outstanding deal.  The price is probably within a few pounds of what Active paid at wholesale, so you won't find it cheaper.  I'm not a man who likes spending money on reels, but at this price it may even sell in Yorkshire.

Happy Christmas - I'll be back with something philosophical around the New Year.

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