We've all experienced the frustration of not being able to find a material you need while fly tying.
I'm probably one of the least organized people on the planet, but recently my custom fly tying business was getting busier and busier and tying was taking me longer than it should've due to me losing materials in what I used to call my "organized chaos."
We all know what that means.
The main sources of my problem were me not putting materials and tools away when I was finished with them, shoving them in random drawers, or simply never putting them away when I brought them home.
Although I barely own any storage items specifically designed for fly fishing or tying, there are a few I've used to help my problem and recommend to everyone to make your fly tying more fun and less frustrating.
Hook and bead boxes.
Almost every fly is built off of a combination of a hook and a head, so keeping these base materials well organized provides major time savings.
I prefer the Meiho brand of hook and bead boxes. These solidly built boxes have tight-locking lids and dividers that prevent even the smallest hooks from crossing over to the other slots and allow them to travel extremely well.
All my nymph hooks are stored together in one box, dry fly hooks are in one box, and bass and saltwater hooks are combined in one box.
Labeling each box and individual compartments within them helps with quickly finding the materials you need.
This is one of the few times I actually use an organizational item meant for fly tying – the Oasis thread rack.
This rack keeps all my thread visible and easy to get to when needed and has the added benefit of being able to store anything else that is spooled on it as well.
Tubes with removable ends.
Dan Bailey's Tyer Tubes are handy for storing krystal flash and flashabou.
Dan Bailey offers these in sizes for flash, thread, ostrich, and peacock, as well as pheasant tails.
I prefer to just use the flash size; I have other options for thread and feathers.
I store all like materials together in Ziploc bags, in their original packaging.
This allows me to grab one bag of Marabou (for example) and know that all my colors are there and they are being controlled and confined to the bag. This also considerably compresses storage.
Rubbermaid totes / Drawers.
My dubbing drawer.
Rubbermaid totes are a good option for storing deer hair and hackle.
I keep my materials in the original bags and then place them in something a little bigger, such as totes or drawers. I built wooden drawers for this purpose; however, the fairly cheap plastic sets work just as well.
My drawers include:
- Zonkers and small strips/patches of fur.
- Small feather packs (marabou, strung hackle, peacock herl, CDC).
- Large pelts (squirrel, hare's mask, buck tails).
- Synthetic body material (craft fur, Body Tubing, chenille).
- Foam, rubber legs, flash, and eyes (foam and accents).
- Popper bodies.
- Extra deer hair.
All of these items are bagged individually, then stored in larger bags with variations of the same type of material (marabou in a marabou bag, etc.).
Now, I know you're thinking, “Man, that's going to take a while.”
Yes, it will take a little while to start, but once you tackle it and stay on top of it, your tying will improve, be more enjoyable, and you'll turn out flies faster.
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About Lee Blanton:
Lee grew up in North Alabama fishing the not-so-famed Wills Creek, as well as the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. He first grabbed a fly rod at the ripe old age of 11 and soon began tying flies for any innocent sunfish or bass that would fall for the trick. This continued on through high school where he began performing aquatic entomology assessments on local streams which further drummed up his knowledge on aquatic insects, and how to imitate them with flies.
He currently resides in Weatherford, TX, just outside of Fort Worth, where he teaches high school and has his own custom fly tying business Wills Creek Fly Fishing, specializing in warm-water flies. Lee has designed a fly that has set three Texas fly rod records for Green Sunfish, one which measured a massive 13.25 inches in length. You can contact Lee via his website www.willscreekflyfishing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.