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As an experienced fly angler and fly-tying enthusiast, I can affirm that there’s something incredibly soothing about dedicating a cold winter evening to tying flies.
These quiet hours not only whisk away the day’s worries but also pave the way for rewarding fly-fishing experiences when warmer weather prevails. However, the real secret to deriving joy from fly-tying and maximizing productivity lies in one crucial aspect: organization.
The Power of Organization in Fly Tying
An organized workspace can significantly enhance your fly-tying experience. Time, as we all know, is a scarce commodity in our fast-paced modern life. Scrambling through a mess to locate specific materials can rob you of precious tying time, reduce your output of finished flies, and even dampen your satisfaction with the craft.
Proper organization of your fly-tying materials can have the opposite effect: it streamlines the process, increases your productivity, and deepens the joy of fly-tying. Plus, it can be a powerful deterrent against material deterioration and pest infestation.
Embracing Simplicity in the Beginning
Starting your organization journey is quite straightforward, often requiring no more than common household or office items. Early stages of fly tying generally demand a limited, carefully selected set of materials, making storage a breeze.
As you dive deeper into the world of fly tying, experimenting with various styles and patterns, you’ll likely amass more materials. This is when investing serious thought into organized storage becomes crucial.
Interestingly, most fly-tying materials are sold in re-sealable plastic bags, which are typically labeled and of appropriate size. It’s rare that you’d need to transfer materials out of these retail bags, except to consolidate similar materials or segment items like feather capes, necks, heads, and full skins into individual feather sizes.
A simple tip to optimize these bags’ use is to puncture them with a pin or fly tyers bodkin to allow for compression and breathing, essential for long-term storage.
Exploring a World of Organization Options
The beauty of organizing fly-tying materials lies in the versatility of available storage options. They are as diverse as the imagination of the tyers themselves. Your choice of storage solution would likely depend on the type and size of the materials, as well as the space available to you.
For beginners, a dedicated desk is a boon. A desk that can be closed off post-tying is a popular choice among fly tyers, including myself. It safeguards half-finished projects, tools, chemicals, and valuable materials from curious pets and well-intentioned, but not necessarily helpful, family members. A repurposed, budget-friendly computer desk with a closing front can work wonderfully.
Plastic drawer bins can further optimize your desk’s functionality. They come in various sizes to suit most spaces. Larger bins, with or without wheels, can cater to greater storage needs and are often stackable, thereby conserving space.
A file cabinet is another excellent storage option for almost all fly-tying materials. Labeled hanging file folders work just as well for storing fly-tying materials as they do for paperwork.
You can organize materials by type, color, size, or any other criteria that suits your needs. File cabinets are especially efficient due to their small footprint and the convenience of pest-proofing, thanks to the shared airspace.
Managing Non-bagged Materials
Not all fly-tying materials are suitable for bagged storage. Spooled materials like thread, tinsel, and wire call for a different system. Enter the spool rack or tower, with the choice between the two hinging largely on available desktop space. These racks and towers are available in horizontal or vertical designs from many fly-fishing retailers.
Thread racks are a cost-effective solution, offering a grid of wooden slats with short dowel stems on which the thread spools can be placed. They are versatile, allowing for vertical placement or free-standing use. Plus, they are easily available from fly fishing retailers or fabric stores.
Small items such as hooks, beads, cone heads, and weighted eyes need containers that match their diminutive size. For hooks, compartmentalized storage boxes are excellent. My preference leans towards single-row or back-to-back row styles over multi-rowed boxes. When dealing with smaller hooks, having a lid for each compartment (similar to a pill box) is more practical than a single lid for all compartments.
For medium-sized hooks, stackable clear round containers are an excellent choice. These containers have threads at the top and bottom, allowing them to be screwed together in a stacked fashion, with a lid placed on the top container.
Larger hooks, beads, eyes, etc., find a fitting home in a plastic slide drawer or hardware cabinet. These containers are also ideal for bulky salmon hooks that may not fit well in smaller containers. Packaged beads, dumbbell eyes, coneheads, and similar items can remain in their retail bags and be stored in the same drawer to save space.
In essence, efficient fly-tying is all about saving space in an organized manner. With proper organization, you can make the most of your time, enhance your productivity, and, most importantly, take greater pleasure in the art of fly tying.