We come now to the fourth walking canes subject in this ‘natural history’ class, and the dream 0f most UK fly fishermen — a well proportioned, leaping trout walking sticks! Represented as a fish, which has just left the water to take a fly, the handle is usually carved from ram’s horn walking sticks in inverted ‘U’ shape. I have to say, immediately, that fish do not naturally adopt such contorted attitudes when leaping for flies, but walking sticks makers have to he allowed some degree of artistic licence if we are to work within the twin constraints of available material and making a practical walking sticks.
Although it is perfectly possible to make a walking canes handle like this from wood, ram’s horn in the UK produces a much better effect. It does not require first- rate material when making the walking sticks; the most important criterion is that it contains sufficient solid material at its tip to allow this area, when squeezed flat, to be shaped into the trout’s tail.
For your trout walking sticks elect a horn, which will provide a minimum of 1lin (279mm) of workable material with a wall thickness, after cutting the walking sticks to length, approaching 3/sin (10mm) or more. If necessary, remove the quick and cut the horn to length before boiling for about half an hour, before fitting to the walking canes shank.
To detail the main trout walking sticks features like gills, fins, tail and mouth, use either small chisels and scribers or a pyrograph with a fine hit. Be careful if you elect to use heat, as horn will melt and features may, in consequence, become indistinct. Do not be tempted to overdo the walking sticks handle detail of the scales on a trout. I have seen some otherwise excellent walking canes examples spoiled because the scales had been made too prominent, making the finished product appear too much like a coarse fish. For your first attempt at making the trout walking sticks it may he wiser simply to pick out the main features and make a good job of painting the body, omitting any detailing of the scales. The choice is yours. Whatever you decide, I recommend that you obtain one of the many excellent UK and Ireland books on carving and painting fish walking sticks, which are available today. Not only will it inspire you, it will provide considerable amount useful information as well.