John Bailey: Santa’s fishing basket

I used to fish a lot with Bob James, the veteran star of that epic angling TV series, Passion for Angling.

Bob has always sported a luxuriant beard and he used to tell the story of how his grandmother, year upon year, would always present him with aftershave on December 25.

After decades of this, Bob decided to retaliate and gave the old girl a football for her present. She was indignant, asking what the heck she was supposed to do with a football! Bob simply held up the aftershave and pointed to his beard as a response.

That's the funny side of it. It's horrible, though, getting the big present wrong. You can tell instantly in the eyes whether that present is a success or a failure, whether you've made or marred the day. Getting it wrong is almost as bad as watching your longed-for big 'un dropping off at the very rim of the net.

So here are my ideas...and do please note the offers! Not only am I giving you inspiration, I'm saving you into the bargain. I'm going to kick off with a shameful bit of self-promotion. Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr Crabtree, the long-awaited book, is on the verge of publication.

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It looks beautiful – not through any brilliance of mine but because of the genius of its illustrator, Rob Olsen. My guess is that because of Rob's work, this will become a modern classic. What I'm offering is this book with 10pc off and signed, too! What I'm suggesting is that you put your orders in and I can be at the Kingfisher Club House in Lyng on Saturday the 22nd at 11.00 a.m. to sign all copies, adding the name of the recipient if required. Contact me via the Kingfisher Apartments on the top of this page, as ever.

Andrew Field Floats are just magnificent. I've collaborated with Andrew on many of the designs and they work an absolute treat. They're magic to use, magic to look at and magic to collect. I can't think of an angler who wouldn't regard these as objects of total delight. If you contact Andrew, you can talk exactly about what you have to spend and what you think would make the ideal present. He's full of great ideas so call him on 01354 651917 or contact him at . If you quote JB-EDP once again he'll give you 10pc off.

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A lot of coarse and sea anglers really harbour the desire to do some fly fishing but, of course, learning to cast the fly really does need tuition.

For my money, locally, there are few better fly casters and teachers than James Harrold at Rocklands Mere Fishery, just outside Hingham. James is a fabulous character and it's his utter niceness that makes him such a good teacher, allied with fabulous technique of course. Contact James on 01953 483971 to fix up a lesson for your beloved. Once again, if you quote JB-EDP you'll get that 10pc discount.

Just the other day, I was with Andrew Charlton from Hardy, the tackle maker and we were having a great day. That is, until he locked his keys in the boot of his Audi. The next four hours we watched a brilliant RAC man labour to get into a car that was the motorized equivalent of Fort Knox. How the guy did it I'll never know but Andrew was able to drive off back to Northumberland at the appointed time. There's nothing worse than being stuck after a winter session with a dud car. If your beloved hasn't got AA, RAC, Greenflag or whatever, then I'd recommend it as a must. Though I can't offer any discounts here.

A lot of anglers overlook the new technology that makes life absolutely so much easier today. Some of the modern LED torches are streets ahead of the old things we used to use. I've actually got four – one for the car, one for the house, one for the tackle shed and one for the tackle bag. You can't go wrong.

At this time of the year, really top-quality fleeces are another must. An angler just can't have enough of these. Good Polaroids are also sensational and not enough anglers take them seriously. Lightweight binoculars are brilliant for fish spotting and also add to the value of the day because you can get up close and personal with our wonderful Norfolk birdlife.

Above all, let me recommend a Kelly Kettle. These traditional devices brew just the very best cup of tea or coffee bankside that you can imagine. A couple of my mates have them and, believe me, once we see that wisp of smoke, we're all round there, cups in hand, being the best mates imaginable.

A Kelly Kettle really does break the day up. It's a talking point as well as being supremely functional. I can't recommend them enough for being the ultimate fishing luxury. Steve at Morston Country Sports in Holt will offer 10pc off all the items I've mentioned upon production of this article. His telephone number is 01263 713932 and the address is 10 Bull Street, next to the excellent P&S Butchers. Whilst you're up there, pop into Butlers for coffee and cake and, once again, upon receipt of this article you'll get that 10pc.

By all means go it alone and buy your beloved the tackle that you think he or she might want. But if I were you, I'd ask for a bit of advice. I'd try one of the local tackle shops and really talk face to face with the tackle dealer. Rod at Fakenham is a star. Tell him what your beloved is interested in and he's bound to have a great idea. It's the same with Sue in the tackle shop at Sheringham. She's got a great array of gear at very sensible prices. Finally, I can't recommend Harris Sports Mail in North Walsham highly enough. There's just about everything there that any angler could ever want.

So, I hope I made your angler's Christmas! I can honestly say, hand on heart, whatever you choose is going to go down better than Bob James' aftershave!

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