With only three days remaining before Santa secures his bulging sack of toys and points Rudolph and his pals southward, it is probably too late for Dad to add any last minute requests to the list. He has no one to blame but himself, however, as he too could have added his request to the list Mom mailed to Santa back in September.

If you rank among the legion of dads that made this mistake, the following is a fail-proof plan to assure that one of those toys in Santa’s over stuffed sack has your name on it next year.

Plan on staying up late on Christmas Eve and waiting on the red-clad elf to arrive. Leave the back door open so that he doesn’t have to waste any magic squeezing down the chimney, move the gas grill and patio furniture to make landing the sled easier, and keep your power drill charged to help him with any last minute assembly work

After the two of you have eaten half the pie and finished off the milk, go ahead and hit him up for next year’s gift while he is still in an appreciative mood. I know it is a year early, but I can promise you that “she”…er’ I mean “he” will not forget!

I have been reminded on more than one occasion by Mrs. Claus that Santa fishes more than most of us and that he sees no need to make a list as he treats himself to new toys on a monthly basis rather than once a year. Because his average helper does not enjoy that luxury, I can only hope that you got your order in early.

I was visiting with some fishermen in Academy last week that had no problem with Santa, family, friends or co-workers giving them a gift card for Christmas. They did not buy into the idea that there is something insensitive about giving a gift card or check in lieu of a carefully selected tie or shirt.

“Invariably there are a number of brand new items that aren’t even available until after the Boat Shows in January,” pointed out one of the anglers, “and there is nothing worse than learning that something you purchased in December is already obsolete or has been upgraded a month later.

I agree with that line of thinking, especially when purchasing electronics for the boat, but all upgrades are not necessarily improvements when it comes to fishing tackle. I admittedly have been at it for a long time, but I cannot tell you how many times I erred in not buying more of a particular lure or reel rather than believing the new ones would be even better.

There may be no more glaring example of this than Shimano’s decision to upgrade their entire line of reels a few years ago and discontinue the original Curados and Chronarcs. The new improved reels had hardly hit the market before it was impossible to find the older reels even listed on Ebay.

In most instances you can still find a rod that will fish as well or better than anything you now have, but more than likely the cost will be higher and the warranty shorter. That said, fishermen have never had as many choices of high-tech quality rods as they do today. They are lighter and more sensitive than ever before and outside of possibly a four piece split bamboo fly rod, anything you buy today will be superior to your current stick.

Lures change on a daily basis and I could make a long list of productive lures that I wish I still had by the case. More often than not, a company simply discontinued a color that I had a great deal of confidence in, but nonetheless, it is no longer available. I still have bass fishermen frequently e-mail or call looking for older colors in Rat-L-Traps.

We recently enjoyed a very productive fall on Sabine Lake fishing with Tidal Surge’s Crazy Croaker and while that lure is not very old, it too is already history. It is funny how your pile of lures suddenly doesn’t look all that big when you realize there are no more to be had!

So the bottom line is that you better buy at least two of any piece of equipment that you really like with your Christmas money and take care of them. And mom … this is one reason a last minute gift card still rates as the perfect present for your favorite fishermen.

One last thought. If you are one of those dads waiting to help Santa on Christmas Eve it is not too late to request your favorite pie and you may want to also keep several packs of AA batteries in your robe pocket. I can assure you that they do not stock batteries at the North Pole.

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!