Tips for fly tying organization and storage

Anyone who ties even a few flies has an immediate problem: What do I do with all this stuff? Get it organized to tie better and more efficiently.

Storage

If you are like me, you tie a ton of flies. I think I have almost hit the 1,000-fly mark, so I need to put them somewhere. Those bead storage boxes that they sell at craft stores (Michael’s, Joann’s, etc) are a cost effective and practical solution.

I have a few boxes that are for my smaller nymphs and dry flies, plus a few more that have longer compartments for my streamers and deer hair bugs. This lets you find the flies you need for each trip and lets you stockpile and replenish on-the-water boxes so you always have enough flies.

You don’t have to be a fly tier to use this, if you buy flies this also works great.

Dubbing Rings

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This relates to a previous post where I recommended that you cut the corners off your dubbing bags: ring them up.

I used zip ties for at least 2 years before I finally found binder rings which are 1000 times better. They are metal and open and close so you can add new packs or take off empty packs. I divide up my synthetics and naturals then subdivide them even further: rabbit, squirrel, muskrat, fox, ice, trilobal, senyo, and all the others.

I just hang them on my desk or throw them in a box by my desk. It has been the easiest and best storage trick I use.

Pencil cups, not for pencils. For feathers

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This is the number one way to keep all your long-stemmed feathers like pheasant, lady amherst, ostrich, and peacock feathers in one place. Most of the time the different bird feathers are different length so you can find them fairly easily.

I used to pop them in a drawer or keep them in a bag, but this keeps them straight and fluffy and  looks awesome on your bench.

Separate everything

Separate everything into its own category drawer: hair, feathers, fur, rabbit, synthetic body, natural, bucktail, arctic fox, saddle hackles, marabou, etc. It works great because I can find what I’m looking for in no time, plus I don’t lose materials. This helps figure out what you need or don’t so you don’t buy extra or don’t buy enough.

Tool Caddy

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The Renzetti Tool Caddy is the best. For a while I used a pencil case that worked just fine until I spilled an entire bottle of head cement in it, ruining a bunch of my tools. Now with the tool caddy I don’t ever worry about any of my liquids spilling or losing my tools.

I have six bobbins, four pairs of scissors, three brushes, three hair packers, and so much more in there, so it was well worth it.

Hang your tails

This doesn’t just apply to tails, but to any big obnoxious material. I hang up my two fox tails, raccoon tail, and my saddle dry fly hackles. Buy those Command hooks and use medium copper wire scraps to hang them. It works well to reduce clutter and save space in drawers and on your desk. It also looks pretty cool just like the feather cup.

As a side note, buy a tail and you’ll never need to buy another again no matter how many flies you tie. I have barely put a dent into my tails. It would almost be worth it to split a tail with someone.

Space

I like having a clear space to tie. It helps me tie better, stay organized, use my scraps, and just tie higher quality flies. Having plenty of space also keeps everything together: tools, flies, and materials.

Good luck with storage and if you have any questions come into the shop or call. In the meantime, happy tying.

-GL

Keep the hook side down (or up)

Some flies are designed to let the hook ride point down. Others want it riding point up. Regardless of the preference, there are a couple of ways to make sure the fly rides true on the swing. This is important with your fly, we don’t want spinning or a hook riding sideways. We only get a few shots at winter fish on a swung fly, so every detail counts.

  • Tie dumbbell eyes on the side of the hook you want pointing down. When the fly hits the water, the heavy eyes go down first and determine the position of everything else.
  • Tie directly onto a large hook (Alec Jackson steelhead hooks) They might be considered the old-school way to keep a fly upright, but Harry Lemire caught steelhead long before people were blogging about it. There’s a fine line between the right amount of wing to do the job and so much material that the fly doesn’t sink. Experiment with different amounts to find that balance, and you can always buy a pattern and inspect it to get a feel for proportion.
  • Throw a wing on it. Yup, put some material opposite of weight and desired hook direction and give her a keel! (see the video of Mr. Berry’s fly swimming true).

Build swinging flies with the right profile

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When building flies to swing for steelhead, keep in mind how big in the water you want the fly to be.

For big profile flies, wrap a ball of chenille or dubbing behind your hackle to help the fibers stand up against the current. You want enough material that the fly doesn’t compress. Streamlined flies don’t need the support. Tie up both varieties to use in different conditions.

Regardless of the profile you’re tying at the moment, use less material than you think you need. You want your fly very sparse so it can sink through the water column. Too much material and it’ll never get down, and the movement of your oh-so-fancy natural materials will be limited with overdressing!

Flies you should be tying for early season trout fishing

Ok, the holidays are over and the winter doldrums are setting in. You know you have holes to fill in your trout box from last season, so you head to the vise and stare at your gear thinking, “Well, where do I start?”

We’ve got you covered.

Nymphs:

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Possie Bugger Left, Tung. Trout Retriever Right

Mega Prince, size 6 & 8

Possie Bugger, size 6-10

Golden Stone, size 8 & 10

Green Rock Worm, size 12 & 14

Dries

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BWO Left, March Brown Middle, & Olive Body Stimulator Right

Skwalla Stone, size 10 & 12

March Brown, size 12-16

Mother’s Day Caddis, size 16 – 17

Yellow Sally, size 14-18

BWO, size 16 -20

Need some more inspiration? Check out our 7 tips to make fly tying fast and easy.