At the Bench: Organization

There’s a madness to the method.

It’s March, but right now it’s 18 degrees with a 22 mph wind out of the northwest; perfect fly tying weather.

I’ve had an enjoyable tying season so far, filling boxes with old reliables and some new stuff.  Whether I’m in production mode with a list of patterns to tie, or tinkering with experimentals, it’s always a struggle to maintain an organized fly tying desk. I recently adopted a few simple measures that work wonders for helping me stay organized.

Like many of us, I tie a lot of beaded nymphs. Beads usually come in tiny ziplock bags which I kept “organized” by size in sandwich-style ziplock bags.  It worked okay, but I was always rifling through the contents trying to see what I had and inevitably I ended up with several packs containing just one or a few beads among several other similarly incomplete packs.

Consolidating the little ziplock bags was a pain – not good. The other problem with the bag “system” was that I grouped similar bead sizes together (2.8mm, 2.7mm, 3.0mm, etc.) in the 7/64″ category. Probably not a big deal, but if you’re going to get organized, you might as well be detailed.

I recently purchased these economical storage boxes that allow me to keep track of what’s on-hand and quickly identify where a specific bead color and size belongs.  They come with sheets of extra labels.

Not only does this speed up the tying process but it helps keep a clean desk because it’s easy to return the unused beads to the appropriate compartment. I can also quickly and easily identify the bead size and know whether that 7/64 bead is a 2.8 mm or a 3 mm.

I like that each compartment opens individually; it keeps catastrophic failures manageable.

I had a similar mess with hooks until I started using this storage container from Hareline. You can write on the container lids with a Sharpie pen or use a sticker.


With 43 containers, this box by Hareline works well for hook storage.

If you’re always losing materials on your desk, you might try using magnets like the Vise Pawn from Loon Outdoors. This works great as a material clip on my vise and equally well for securing feathers, strands of ribbing material, my fragile ego and other delicate items on my desktop.

En passant.

Finally, if you’re looking for motivation (or shame) to organize your tying area, check out this video from the YouTube channel “Shorty on the Fly.” He has some great content on fly box organization and some nice tying videos as well.

Tight lines and happy tying.

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