One day while attending graduate school in Montana, I wandered into the Slide Inn a fly shop on the banks of the Madison River. The shop’s owner, Kelly Galloup, had a reputation as a trout-crazed wild child, and his fly-tying abilities and patterns are known all over the world.
The shop displayed an eclectic collection of fishing memorabilia – antique bamboo rods, replicas of enormous brown trout, and photos of legendary anglers from days gone by. There was a ton of interesting objects to look at, but my eye jumped to Galloup’s fly-tying desk. Perched atop it was a large elk antler, sporting every manner of fly-tying tools imaginable.
I snapped a quick photo and was determined to make my own.
Making a Tool-Holding Antler
That spring I found a whitetail shed that happened to sit flush on a table. Using 1/8th- and 3/16th-inch bits, I drilled several evenly spaced holes in the main beam of the antler.
While my antler doesn’t hold as many tools as Galloup’s, it keeps every tool I use on a consistent basis organized, so I’m not fumbling around looking for my scissors or hackle pliers.
I have seen other antler tool holders dyed with wood stain, but I prefer the natural color of the antler as I found it. If you can’t find one that sits perfectly level, feel free to grind down the points or the base to make it stable. The result is a beautiful and efficient addition to your tying desk.■
Author: Ryan SparksAuthor Ryan Sparks is a freelance writer and photographer who can be found trying to catch anything that swims with a fly rod or chasing after his pointer, Tippet. His writing and photography can be found at flywatermedley.com
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