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Holiday Wish List

By King Montgomery

What to get the outdoors person on your holiday gift list is often a problem. Here are a few suggestions on gear that I’ve tried recently and can vouch for their utility.

The Orvis Lightweight Safe Passage Water-Tite Welded Kit Bag is a favorite must-have, go-to waterproof bag for cameras and their things. So far in 2007 I’ve used it in Alaska, Mexico’s Yucatan, Maine and on some local and regional waters with great success. It has been rained on, sat in several inches of fresh and saltwater for hours, and generally been through the mill. It kept everything dry and accessible.

In 2008, the Orvis bag will accompany me to Alaska, Chilean Patagonia, the Bahamas, Maine and elsewhere. The bag is loved so much, I just ordered another, even though the current one is still like new. When something is found that I can't live without, I often buy several in case they ever are discontinued or “improved” beyond original recognition.

This kit bag is fully molded, welded and padded. An ingenious magnetic flap keeps the bag’s lid shut so you can leave it unzipped for easy access. Three interior dividers are adjustable with Velcro and there is a clear, watertight interior lid pouch. The zipper and pulls are non-corrosive. The bag comes in a battleship gray color and for a few bucks more your name or initials can be embroidered on the magnetic flap.

It is well worth $179. Call 1-800-541-3541 or visit

Ross Reels Essence series fly rods join forces with the superb line of Ross Reels that have served fly anglers for 35 years. The rods are endorsed by Mel Krieger, renowned fisherman, teacher and author, whose work, "The Essence of Flycasting," lends its name to these fine graphite four-piece fly rods that sell from $99 to $199. Pair these rods with a Ross Reel of your choice, and you are set for life. “A great casting rod is an invaluable tool in the sport of fly fishing, and this is exactly what you get with every Essence series fly rod,” Krieger said. “I proudly fish these rods myself!”

Essence rods are available to take 3-, 5- and 7-weight lines. The FS rods are designed with newcomers in mind or those who don’t wish to spend a fortune on a rod. They are $99. The FC rod line is a mid-range offering that goes for $149. The Essence FW fly rod series is the premium model, but is still offered at the incredible price of $199.

Last month, I took an Essence FW four-piece 9-foot rod for a 7-weight line to Casa Blanca Lodge on Yucatan Mexico’s Ascension Bay to try on the wily and incredibly strong bonefish. The rod was paired with a Ross Evolution 3.5 reel. The rod handled bonefish from 1 to almost 4 pounds with ease, and it was a pleasure to cast to the fabled gray ghost of the saltwater flats with such a light, smooth piece of equipment.

For more information, call 970-249-1212 or visit
Charlie’s Total Control Stripping Basket and Companion Pack are two neat products from a small Florida company dedicated to making fishing easier for us all. The stripping basket opens from a compact package to a spacious cube that holds fly line off of the boat, ground or surf. The Duromesh nylon construction is indestructible. You can carry the basket in your pocket until you need it; it literally springs to form when you open it up.

The latest addition to Charlie’s Specialties is Charlie’s Companion Pack. It is made of breathable mesh and weighs about 9 ounces. It rolls into a compact package and when opened into its backpack configuration carries two cased rods, waders and wading boots plus whatever else you need for a day of fishing. I’ll take mine to Chile in early March 2008. We drive, park and walk a bit to reach the pristine trout rivers and streams. The pack will let me keep my hands free for the ever-present camera.

For more information or to order, call 863-763-1092 or visit

Fishing editor King Montgomery is like a kid at Christmas. He can’t wait to try exciting fishing equipment in new (and old) fishing places in 2008. He wishes all a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year. Contact him at

Issue 2.51: December 20, 2007