This week in the vintage tackle contest we don’t have an item that catches fish, but rather one that helps you make stuff to catch them. This vise belongs to John O’Donnell, and the story that goes along with it is pretty special. John writes: I was recently going through some boxes I’ve had for years and came across this Herter’s No. 11 Vise. It was my grandfather’s. I am 60 years old and a retired Allentown, Pa. police officer. My grandfather passed away in the early 60s. He was an Allentown, Pa. fireman and was killed in a fire he was fighting. He was an avid Fly Fisherman, tying his own flies. He even made gun stocks and was an artist (painter). His name was Arthur Howells. Well, John, you’ve got an item here that really takes Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog back to simpler times.


Dr. Todd says:

“As a Minnesota boy, I grew up during a time when the Herter’s catalog was the bible for sportsmen, and as kids we all came to worship George Leonard Herter as the apostle of the outdoors. As we grew older, it began to dawn on us that some (well, maybe all) of what G.L.H. wrote was, how shall we say this, a bit hyperbolic. In other words, he was a world class advertiser. You have one of his most durable and well-loved items, a # 11 Fly Tying Vise. As Herter’s started as a mail order fly tying shop, this style vise was offered from the 1940s on, and was a staple on many fly tier’s benches. It’s worth about $30 and I think the finest way to honor your grandfather–a fly angler and decorated fireman killed in the line of duty–is to tie up a few flies on his old vise and go out and catch a few trout in his honor.”


John, I would positively take the Doc’s advice and tie some bugs with that Herters, because I know there are some great trout streams where you live…I fish them often. Thanks for sharing, and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there’s a set of Berkley Aluminum Pliers headed your way.

If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.