By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

I really can't put into words how much I hate bell peppers. For some reason, the taste and the smell of them – no matter what color they may be – are utterly repulsive to me. Everybody who knows me is fully aware of how much I detest them because there's rarely a day that goes by when I don't find some way to bring up the topic.

Now, what does this odd personal quirk of mine have to do with fishing-themed holiday gifts? Well, about 20 years ago, I was forced to touch a bell pepper in order to find out what I'd received in an office gift exchange. A newspaper photographer – a tremendous human being who was claimed by cancer a few years back at age 49 – had cut the top off of one of those hideous vegetables and hollowed it out, and then stuck two lures inside.

One was a frog-colored Rapala Fat Rap that produced quite a few fish for me over a long period of time. I changed out the hooks on it just this year for a pair of Mustad KVD Triple Grip Trebles, but I haven't actually tied it onto a line since my friend died. I'm just too fearful of losing it.

I don't remember what the other bait was, but I do recall that it was smaller than the Rapala and orange-ish colored. I may still have it or I may not – like many of you, I own a lot of crankbaits that I'm not exactly sure how I acquired.

Below is the skinny on a few items that I wouldn't hesitate to give to a hard-core bass junkie this year. Only one of them will fit inside an average-sized bell pepper, though, so you'll probably want to go with traditional packaging and wrapping paper.

Big: The 50 Greatest World Record Catches

This is the best fishing-related coffee table book I've ever seen, bar none. A depiction of George Perry's legendary largemouth adorns the cover, and the story of the 11-15 smallmouth from Tennessee's Dale Hollow Reservoir in 1955 also made the cut.

The text is riveting – Mike Rivkin does a superb job of putting the reader at the scene of each battle. The words, however, are outdone by the artwork, as the portraits by Flick Ford are stunning, to put it mildly.

Photo: Berkley

The Flicker Shad gets the job done even in clear-water situations.

Reading a couple of the stories each day will keep a big-fish fanatic entertained for nearly a month. Then, before a year has passed, you'll be ready to read them all over again.

> Price: $50 (and absolutely worth it).

> To learn more, click here.

Berkley Flicker Shad

I fish this little crankbait in the small reservoir that holds my town's water supply. The water is ultra-clear and the largemouths can be ridiculously hard to catch, and I've found the smallest of the five Flicker Shad sizes (4 centimeters) to be as productive as anything on the toughest days. Plus, it's a lot more fun to throw than a shaky-head.

Its elongated bill will get it down into the 4- to 5-foot range on 8-pound fluorocarbon attached to a spinning reel. I like to set up on one side of a point and throw it all the way up to where water meets dirt, and then reel it hard downhill.

Glenn Lau Productions
Photo: Glenn Lau Productions

"Bigmouth" takes you under the surface to better understand how bass live and interact.

The Flicker Shad comes in a bunch of colors, but my favorite is black/silver, which has a ribbon of pink at the edge of the gill and a big splotch on the underside of the jaw. It looks really fishy to me, and those finicky largemouths that inhabit my drinking water seem to concur.

> Price: $4.99

> To learn more, click here.

Bigmouth – 35th Anniversary Edition

I'd never seen this legendary film until Glenn Lau, the man who made it, was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. If he'd never done anything else that had anything to do with bass, this single project made him worthy of enshrinement.

We all have our ideas about what bass are doing under the water's surface at a given time. This film shows precisely what they do at specific times in specific places, and the way they actually go about their business and react to foreign objects that enter their environment is different than a lot of us probably imagine.

The cinematography is so good that it's hard to believe it was done in the early 1970s. Throw in the narration of the late Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) and you've got a timeless classic.

> Price: $19.95

> To learn more, click here.

Photo: Lew's

Lightweight and functional, Lew's hit another home run with its multi-use aluminum pliers.

Lew's Aluminum Pliers

Nothing beats a tool that's both easy to use and performs multiple necessary functions, and the aluminum pliers from Lew's fit that bill. The legendary company that experienced a rebirth a couple of years ago under new ownership is best known for its superb reels, but this item's a straight-up winner.

The grooved handles are easy to grip and the ribbed stainless steel jaws hold on tightly to whatever gets between them. The anvil-style cutters are conveniently located beneath the jaws and make quick work of any type of fishing line.

They come in two sizes – 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 inches. I like the shorter version, which has a tip that'll separate split-rings.

> Price: $29.99 (6 1/2-inch) or $34.99 (7 1/2-inch)

> To learn more, click here.