fly tying storage recommendation by Barry Ord Clarke

Fly tying materials: Organization & Storage

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For many of us fly tyers, we love collecting, and over the years buying a cape here and a saddle there, have resulted in a small fortune invested in materials. These need proper care and protection. Heres a little guide on how I, store, protect and organize both my natural and synthetic materials.

I try, I say try… because its never perfect, even though I am inflicted by a mild case of OCD, I do my utmost, to give everything its place, but every now and then I end up searching high and low to find something as large as one of the plastic boxes above, that contains one or another material I need. This is by human fault, and down to me, replacing the box back on a shelf, where it doesn’t belong! But as a rule things run smoothly and are easy to locate when needed.

I organize the materials in my tying room in order of use. The materials and tools I use for every tying session are closest to hand.

How to organize and storage fly hooks

fly tying storage

This starts with hooks. Hooks are the foundation for every fly, so its the first thing that you look for and choose. I have a somewhat larger stock of hooks than the average tyer, but I also do a little more tying than the average tyer, so these take a priority, in both tying room locality and tying room real-estate. I organize my hooks closest to my tying station, naturally in order of what I use most. Dry fly, nymph, emerger, etc…

All the boxes of hooks are stock, these I have out, so I can see at a glance what is getting low. The four cabinets are hooks in use.

fly tying storage

Most of the drawers in the cabinets are a specific hook types or styles, but in different sizes. Keeping things organized in each drawer is difficult, I always have to search a little to find a hook size that I only use occasionally in the drawer, but regular sizes are not a problem.

When traveling and doing demos and shows, carrying 30-40 packs of hooks in various types and sizes can result in serious chaos and be a real time waster. Over the years I have resulted in using these super slim magnetic hook boxes. These I have found have several advantages. They take up little room in your luggage and are easy to pack. They are super easy to organize. I have four main boxes, dry, nymph, emerger & streamer. You can have one box open on your tying station, with all the sizes you need easy to hand.

The magnetic base in each box and tight clip lock lid, hold everything in place, but when traveling, I pack all the boxes together with strong elastic bands around them.

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How to organize feathers for fly tying

Quality hackle is probably the most expensive investment for the fly tyer over time. For these I use air tight plastic boxes, again sorted into easy accessible hackle types of the most often used. Each box is clearly marked with cape type, again, so I don’t waist time searching. But this order requires discipline. Each and every cape being returned to its correct place immediately after use. If I slacken off on this rule, even in the slightest, order quickly becomes chaos, and I have to abandon tying for tidying! When doing shows and demos, I have a somewhat OCD reputation amongst the other tyers for my tidy tying station. It’s not the worst thing you can have a reputation for.

Heres my ‘natural cock cape’ box. The hackle boxes are air tight with a double lock. They are also clear plastic so viewing the materials doesn’t require opening each and every box. These are only natural hackle that I use on a daily basis.

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The hackle I use daily are not kept in plastic bags, this take too long taking them out and replacing them. As long as they are in the air tight box they are safe from insect damage. I do cut out the original package details and attach this to each and every cape for easy reference.

In every natural material box I also keep a couple of desiccant silica gel packs. These you can find in all kinds of packaging from food to electrical goods for free. These keep any fat and moisture levels down, that may be present.

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Last but not least I also include a mothball flat pack in each box, these are none toxic, cheap, and are your last line of defense against insect attack. These are almost odorless or have a natural cedar tree sent and kill all clothes moths and carpet beetles, the two most common enemies of the fly tyers materials.

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How to organize Synthetics material for fly tying

Synthetics don’t require the more expensive air tight containers, less expensive plastic boxes will keep these in order. Make sure that you label your boxes clearly.

All the other natural materials are stored in the air tight boxes along with insect repellent and desiccant silica gel.

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For my most used threads and tinsels, I use plastic tubes. These are available in may different sizes and types. For obvious reasons the clear plastic ones are best.

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For the stock threads, wires and tinsels they are kept on the original packages in solid plastic boxes away from day light.

In addition to the boxes I collect all types of various plastic boxes that come in useful for all manner of things from beads to flies.

I also always have a good selection of zip-lock plastic bags and family and friends to save the soy sauce boxes and lids from sushi take aways.

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