From increasingly popular standup paddle boards to fishing gear and accessories, Active Junky pulled together some of our favorite and top-reviewed products for fishing, paddling and water sports. Take some time to browse through our list, and check out some of our other outdoor holiday gift guides from Active Junky or from our sister site, Tom’s Guide, with over 250 techy gift ideas. And don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky for the best deals and cash back on your gear and gift purchases.
Best Gifts for Fishing & Water Sports
Photo Credit: Kuznetcov Konstantin/Shutterstock
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 Kayak
This rudderless, 12’6” rotomolded touring kayak is a great craft for larger paddlers. For our 6’ and 190lb male tester, the Tsunami worked incredibly well. For each stroke, the kayak held a substantial amount of glide—it was a pleasure and comfort to paddle with the seat and foot placement, with only a Philips-head screwdriver needed for adjustments. As explorations led into the web of intertwining waterways, the agile nature of the kayak came into play. With a little lean and a few properly placed strokes, the kayak maneuvered particularly well. While these specific paddling strokes might be slightly more difficult for a novice paddler, they are still attainable given the maneuverability of this boat.
…Lost Surfboards X Lib-Tech Sub Buggy Surfboard
…Lost and Lib-Tech’s collaborations always promise happy shredding—and the Sub Buggy delivers both spray and smiles in spades. If the board’s moniker sounds familiar, that’s because the Sub Buggy is a crossbreed between two of …Lost’s most beloved shapes: the board pulls the outline of the Sub Driver, their ultra-popular small-wave shortboard, and the rocker of the Beach Buggy, legend Taj Burrow’s forgiving-yet-ferocious high-performance shortboard. The result? A fast and fun thruster that delivers in quality surf and grovels with the best of them. Oh—and it’s forged in Lib-Tech’s durable, travel-friendly construction.
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak
With a 550lb capacity, this Advanced Elements inflatable kayak rocks touring adventures while maintaining the maneuverability of a small boat. AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak is an ideal choice for bigger and particularly taller paddlers when deployed as a single-person kayak with the optional decking kit (sold separately), or works as a 2-person craft with its included dual folding seats. Six inflation chambers with durable three-layer material reduce the worry of puncture on natural and manmade hazards. Weighing in at just over 50lbs, this IK is on the heavier side for a tandem model, but still incredibly maneuverable for the weight and 15’ length.
BodyGlove iSUP Performer 11
With the iSUP Performer 11 from BodyGlove, tracking ranked above average with a trio of smaller, permanent fins that still allowed easy turning with minimal to moderate paddling effort. Absent any sensation of chattering or energy-sucking drag, this inflatable SUP was a delight in varied inland water conditions. The 11’ length proved to be an excellent balance of load-bearing capacity and maneuverability. Center decking was the most comfortable of inflatable paddleboards Active Junky tested and didn’t build up heat even in the blistering Rocky Mountain late afternoon sun. Changing foot position, kneeling or sitting on the deck was unencumbered and supremely comfortable. At 24lbs, the triple layer inflatable still packs down small and easy to transport to your favorite paddling body of water.
Sevylor Alamosa Inflatable Paddle Board
“Fish on!” is the resounding quote attached to this specialist, purpose-built fishing SUP from Sevylor. Paddling anglers are set free to fish while floating, employing a drag anchor, tied up to shore or beached in places few can access. The 11’6” Alamosa is built to handle calmer waters but still offers enough stability to plow through some chop coming or going to fishing grounds. An extended, non-slip EVA decking made it easier to move back and forth when paddling but particularly when fishing. Includes dual fishing rod holders, storage compartment, paddle and cup holders, and comes with carrying bag, hand pump and leash.
Patagonia Men's R1 Lite Yulex Front-Zip Long-Sleeved Top
In true Patagonia form, the R1 Lite Front-Zip includes eco-friendly and recycled materials, most notably the natural Yulex rubber used in 85% of the long-sleeve top. Durability is solid with 100% of seams triple glued, and high-stress points are internally spot taped, shutting down water intake. While this stealth-black wetsuit top eases up on the environment, it also doesn’t lack in protection and performance.
Best for: Conditions that do not call for a full wetsuit but require more than a rash guard
Patagonia Men’s R1 Short John
Warm water is about freedom, mobility and enough protection to avoid extremes. As in, getting chilled or overheating. Patagonia’s wise product guides pointed Active Junky to this model designed for years of on-water movement. The brand’s 100% recycled polyester jersey lining complements a durable exterior face fabric by accelerating dry time. At a highly packable 19.2oz, the 1.5mm neoprene Short John ranges beyond 65-75 degree waters, and combine this shorty wetsuit with socks and gloves for intermediate-level SUP outings. Paired with the open-arm design, flatlock seams make extended distances possible. Zipper closure is secure with a generous pull to seal the deal on this reasonably priced essential.
Simms Guard Socks
When warmer weather starts creeping back around, the fisherman in your life will love these guard socks and being able to ditch the waders. The 3.5mm neoprene Simms Guard Socks seal pant legs in place and keep gravel from getting under foot, a painful experience that halts all fishing. Available in four sizes that accommodate men’s shoes sizes 7 to 13 and three colorways, these are a simple yet functional gift idea.
Kokatat Tropos Otter Jacket
This big water, cruising and downriver brand owns the details in every piece they offer. Whether breaching whales, strong winds or beach breaks jeopardize your comfort, fully seam-sealed Tropos Otter Jacket splashes through challenges small and leviathan. Active Junky found the comfort rivaled the jacket’s protection, with quarter-zip venting, a soft pile collar lining and zoned fabrics managing interior humidity and exterior assaults. Adjustable splash cuffs and a gloves-on adjustable and stowable hood toggled between sunny runs and darkened skies as the bungee waist adjusted when needed. This water jacket's volume is moderate to accommodate all but the burliest boaters.
Orvis Helios 2 Fly Rod
Both saltwater and freshwater anglers have been rightfully hooked by the Helios 2—it’s been the high-end pride and joy of the Orvis line for years now, with rods ranging from a 2-weight, 6’ mid-flex to a 14-weight 8’6” tip-flex model. In fact, the Vermont-based fly rod purveyor just released their long-awaited Helios 3. While we haven’t had a chance to try the third generation yet, the award-winning Helios 2 is available for a steal right now, making it a smart time to snag one this holiday season. Lightweight and accurate, this rod will have fly line flying out of your hand. That said, this whippy wand is no toothpick; it’s more than strong enough to take on the sundry turbulence of travel.
Best for: Flicking your fly fishing game into the future
Orvis Hydros SL Reel
A large arbor workhorse, Orvis’ Hydros SL fly reels are an indubitable staple amongst fresh and saltwater fly fishermen alike. Available in five sizes to work with line weights across the board, the Hydros SL, according to Orvis, delivers a “12% increase in line retrieval thanks to our super large arbor.” No doubt, retrieval is unabashedly smooth, startup inertia remarkable, and drag off the charts—especially for the price. And while the arbor is large, the spool is slim—simultaneously minimizing line stacking and maximizing backing capacity. Also, the drag mechanism is sealed to encourage oceanic endeavors. Pair it with the Helios 2 for a killer combo.
Sage X Rod
The Sage X Rod setup lets you chase the grand slam, catch fish for dinner, and experiment with a huge variety of game and eating fish. Wind, waves, and rocky conditions are no match for the fast action and power of the X Rod. Due to the lightweight construction, you can cast into the wind all day without fatigue, and it seems to adapt as conditions change. It has a nice balance of strength and finesse and gives you a broad range of casting options. The conditions of saltwater and sand are a corrosive mix, but the Sage reel drag is completely sealed so you don’t have to worry about babysitting your equipment. The Sage 6280 has clean and classic lines with a sporty and lightweight feel; a silky yet robust drag that flows easily. We paired it with RIO General Purpose Tropical line, and it kept up with everything we threw at it, or threw it at.
Sportube Series 2
If there ever was a conversation starter in an airport, rolling the Sportube (yep, it has wheels) through your local landing strip loaded with adventure gear is it. This hard-shelled plastic and adjustable-length container can accommodate a travel paddle, full wetsuit, spear gun, snorkel gear and dive belt with weights—our tester can attest to that. This airline- and FedEx-friendly container performed amazingly well to keep gear safe while traveling to the next adventure destination.
Filson Fishing Pack
Every fly fisher needs a solid pack for excursions. The Filson Fishing Pack is a selection that will style your giftee with overdesigned functionality. Strapping the pack around the waist keeps the wearer’s hands free without worrying about the bag slipping off their shoulders. The front pocket zips open and lays flat to create a working surface for tying flies, and nylon webbing in the adjustable wait strap and handle along with heavy-duty zippers along with top quality design ensure this piece will last long enough to pass it down to the next generation of fishing enthusiasts in your family. The best kind of gift.
Werner Paddles Rip Stick 89
With over a decade of paddling sport experience, our Active Junky tester has never experienced a higher-performance travel paddle than the Werner Paddles Rip Stick 89. This carbon fiber, 3-piece paddle travels with ease and tunes to attack when that wave set rolls in. It’s lightweight and features a double dihedral power-face blade that allows for minimal taxing of the arms and maximum forward thrust. Your giftee will enjoy this one; paddles don’t get much better.
Astral GreenJacket PFD
The Astral GreenJacket PFD is built with features for an expeditionary paddle experience while giving an outstanding fit for everyday on-water excursions. The PVC Free Gaia and PE Foam insert along with innovative securing straps forms the vest to the torso while allowing an ideal amount of movement and comfort. The Techtonics system on this rescue vest keeps it from riding up on the paddler’s torso, which can result in arm-chaffing. With its 500-denier nylon shell and 200-denier liner, heavy duty acetal and stainless steel construction, this is a durable lifesaver. Pair this PFD vest with the internally stowed throw rope and side mounted web toe (both sold separately) and you have the base foundation of a rescue system set in place.
Costa Blokes are serious polarized sunglasses for a motivated angler or any on- or near-water athletes. The full-wrap frame fits larger heads and keeps light from seeping in the sides. With 580g polarization, the lenses are a scratch resistant glass that offer 100% UV blockage, 100% polarization and industry-leading clarity. The Costa Bloke comes in four frame and five lens varieties, providing options to match anyone’s style.
Best for: On-water pursuits when glare threatens to impede performance