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There’s a special category in the fly fishing retail world labeled “accessories,” which, in my mind, includes just about anything a fly angler buys that doesn’t actually help them catch fish in any way, shape, or form whatsoever. This might be the most important product category for friends and relatives of fly fishers who want to buy gifts with sentimental value, but alas, have no idea (whatsoever) how to actually catch fish on the fly.

That’s why a lot of us have drawers full of Green-Butt Skunk printed socks, sterling flasks with dry fly etchings, toilet seats with a Royal Coachman motif, and wall clocks with classic fly patterns that mark every hour of the day. I will admit that I might be the most “poorly-accessorized” angler on the planet, having little use for neckties (if you see me choked by a silky fly print around my neck, that usually means someone either died or got married, which in certain angling circles is almost one in the same), fly-themed wallets, and the rest of the niff-naff that says, “I’m a fly fisher.”


But I grew up in the Great Lakes region. And as such, I think the “church key” a man carries to crack a cold frosty beverage at the end of a hot, sweaty, summer day of fly fishing speaks volumes.

The Simms Thirsty Trout Bottle Opener ($5.95, available at many fly shops) is the least-expensive, sure-to-be-appreciated gift product in the fly fishing world.

I could go on about its fail-safe solid aluminum design, how it grips the teeth of the most rugged micro-brew bottle caps, and all of that, but knowing that I am speaking to an audience of innovators who will stop at nothing to unfasten a bottle cap at the end of a hot fishing day–using teeth, belt buckles, Bic lighters, and the gunwales of a drift boat (among many other things) to get the job done–I’d simply suggest that for six bucks, this fish-shaped cap-opener is a wise investment. What it lacks in “bling” is more than compensated for by way of substance.

I carry many. I give them to friends in need. Yet, over the years, I have also learned that serious anglers often value their own sacred church key. The wide-faced metal lift from the neighborhood hardware store, the favored bottle-cracker straight from the brewery, the opener with the catchy phrase imprint…

Tell me about your favorite church key, and why it is so, and to the best commenter, I will send you one of these. Perhaps we can unhinge a couple cool bottles of suds (birch beer included) together someday.