Fly Tying Materials: Storage and Space
My fly tying space serves multiple purposes. Of course it’s for fly tying and material storage, but it’s also part video production studio, part fly fishing gear storage area, part library and part small museum. As a result, things must be stored and organized in a fairly efficient manner – well, most of the time anyway.
Gallon and quart Ziploc bags form the lowest level of my fly tying materials storage and organization hierarchy. They’re cheap, take up little space, help to protect valuable materials from bugs and moisture, and open and close with minimal effort. The fact that they’re clear doesn’t hurt with materials identification but they’re also easily labeled with a permanent marker. The two different sizes allow for multiple quart-sized bags of similar materials to be grouped together in one of the gallon-sized bags.
These bags as well as similar non-bagged items are stored and organized in multiple places. These include cheap plastic 3-drawer stackable units and old garage-sale-find dressers, some of which do a remarkable job of holding the previously mentioned clear plastic drawers. Large dresser drawers are also almost indispensable when it comes to storing long materials, like pheasant tail feathers and full bird skins.
Along those lines, I’m a big fan of good, old-fashioned moth balls for keeping expensive fly tying material-eating bugs at bay. It actually says “old fashioned” right on the box. Yes, your home will end smelling like Grandma’s house, but a well-placed bag of moth balls may end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run. I like the moth balls that come in perforated bags which keep them from roaming free in the drawers.
One of my best garage sale finds is this small set of drawers that perfectly holds spools of thread, wire and tinsel. It’s about the best 15 bucks I’ve ever spent.
Materials and items not well suited to plastic bag storage often end up in two different sizes of plastic bins, which again are fairly cheap and most are at least partially see-through. The larger 18 quart containers have great latch-able lids and stack very nicely on wire shelved storage units. I especially like how the bottom of each container neatly nests in the lid of the one below it.
The smaller shoebox sized, 6 quart, containers also stack and store wonderfully on metal shelving. Miraculously, with their lids off, they fit perfectly, and help to organize materials, within the drawers of one of my dressers.
Smaller items, often tools or spooled materials, get stored in either Plano Pro Latch 37 or 3600 series Stowaway tackle trays. Both are easily configured to help further organize items within the trays. 3600 trays are about as good as it gets for grouping like types and sizes of spooled materials. For my money, there’s nothing better than 3700 series trays for storing loaded ready-to-go bobbins. I’ve found the larger 3700 series trays to be especially useful when it comes to taking fly tying on the road, as they keep expensive tying tools both organized and well protected.
Removing the lids of trays allows for hook box storage. This way hooks can be organized by brand, model and size while, at the same time, keeping their original packaging. I’ve been able to find some older, taller trays, not sure of the series numbers, that even fit larger hook packets. The lid-less trays containing both hooks and beads are then stored within easy reach on their own wire shelved unit.
A relatively inexpensive label maker is a luxury well worth having. Most are super simple to use, the labels stick well and are easy to read. They fit perfectly on the little flat spaces on the fronts of the Plano tackle trays. I built fairly simple cabinets for holding the trays and the labels allow me to find just what I’m looking for, very quickly.
Although I’m all about video in terms of learning how to tie flies, I still regularly use a ton of books for reference and having them easily accessible is essential, as is having some space for storing fly tying treasures collected over the years.