Jan 9, 2011

After Midnight in Vice Land

One strategy I've used to keep things lively is to post fewer fly tying pictures.  I realize I have pretty average ability on the vice and no one wants to see a bunch of average looking flies.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing and sharing flies but I could post about 500 more posts per year about flies and this blog would get boring.  So...believe it or not I do tie flies.  I usually tie just enough to keep the box full and any given fishing trip is usually be preceded by a scramble to replace the lost.

When I first started wrapping thread, I bought this little red box to hold materials.  It did pretty well for about a week.  Then things got out of control and the box is only used to hold flies while they dry (you can see a few hanging now.)  I am seriously out of control, now I'm contemplating ways to get organized and I don't think this box is going to cut it.  So how do you guys do it?  Give me some insight into your organizational methodology and we'll see what I can do to alleviate my predicament.

The following are pictures of my "vice land." View them and you'll have a feeling for what I'm dealing with.  Right now, if a fly should take five minutes I'll spend about three minutes looking for the material, about five minutes looking for my scissors and five minutes tying.

Here is a wide angle shot of my corner in the basement.  This is what it looks like if you spend a few years accumulating stuff and never take the time to organize it.  I've taken the liberty of labeling all the key elements in the image.  Click on the picture and you'll instantly feel like your at the vice, whipping up some Mad Toms.

This is my box of stuff.  After the red box shown above, this was my second and last attempt to stay organized.  This box carried it all when my vise was downgraded to the basement where it could be left undisturbed and unseen by unsuspecting guests.  This is where I keep all the paint I use on my solid wood poppers, I've also got the Illinois fishing regs magazine from 2008 here...because you never know.

This is where the magic happens.  The table started it's life many years ago at the in-laws' house.  Back then it led a boring life of holding up a lamp, tissue box and soda cans; it never dreamed how exciting life would be in it's golden years.  My cheapo vice is front and center with most of my tools arranged thrown about the vicinity.  Thread and other smaller materials reside here as well as polyurethane for the poppers.

When tying flies it is important to have everything within an arm's reach.  Here you can see the pile of stuff on the tier's left.  Here you'll see some basic materials.  There is also a bag of goodies I recently procured from Tight Lines and a bag of caulk backing.  I'm not sure why the caulk backing is here because I've never used it on a fly, however it's appearance has prompted some thoughts on how it would float.

Here is the pile of stuff on the tier's right.  As I'm right handed, this is the good stuff.  I've got bunny fur, feathers, bucktail and flash...all the important stuff for bass flies.  The brown paper bags hold some "free range feathers" received a couple Christmas's ago from my sister-in-laws farm - sparkly bow still attached because it might some day look good on a fly.
So there you have it. I know it is no where near as much stuff as some people probably have. It is even a little more organized than others might be. However, I'm serious about tidying up and I'd like some advice.

Mom, telling me to "pick up after I'm done" isn't going to count as advice.

If you came here looking for sweet flies...sorry.  Click here instead to see some absolutely amazing deer hair work.


  1. I really enjoyed the labeled photo. I have my tying materials sort of organized into plastic shoe boxes... one for hackle, one for marabou and tail materials, one for chenille... you get the picture. It has helped, but I'm still slow at getting everything ready to go. My DIY portable fly tying bench has at least helped me keep up with tools, thread, and other spooled supplies.

  2. Don't believe for a minute that no one comes to look at some flies. It ain't so. Mixing things up is good, but even posts by a self proclaimed "average tier" has benefits. I am also an average or less tier. But I get inspiration from other averages. Most of us will never be AK Best, we don't tie enough and quite frankly, I don't care enough. Ugly flies catch more fish than presentation flies!

  3. Hey Clif. I've noticed, since I started tying flies, that the material has a life of it's own, and multiplies like a rabbit. I started out like you did with a little box and now I have drawers full. And like the Ginsu commercial says "Wait, there's more".


  4. Clif:

    I started tying not too much before you. I started out at the dining room table, but it did not take long before the wife booted me to my room.

    I began to accumulate so much stuff for not only tying flies but making swim jigs and fnf jigs. Here is what I did to set up my tying room:

    1. Bought a cheap card table and chair at Target to be my official "fly tying table".

    2. Next, I went to the store and got two of those rubbermaid drawer units on wheels. I think each one has five drawers........very handy for storing materials.

    3. It was not long before all ten of those drawers were full. Then I went back to the store and bought six small rubbermaid containers with fold in lids. I took those and labeled them with the items I use most..........hooks, thread, rabbit, marabou, deer hair, flash, etc.

    So now I use those small rubbermaids for the most part, but I have my drawer units right next to my table in case I need "back up" materials. If I think about I will take a pic. and send it to you.


  5. @Jay - I was thinking about Rubbermaid containers about the size of a shoe box. I think I'll need a few.

    @HDog - Only because presentation flies are never actually presented to fish.

    @Tubeman - Oh, there is always more.

    @Jonn - We have a very similar story. I used my "box of stuff" to move from the kitchen table to the basement. It seems women folk aren't nearly as enthusiastic about fur on the table as we. Also I'm sensing a pattern centered around small Rubbermaid containers.

  6. Dont be so hard on yourself Clif....think your flies are the nuts Brotha. With regards to keeping things tidy....forget it! one has all the good intentions but eventually it will end up looking like an Amsterdam whore house again. My only suggestion is to shelve stuff and for smaller items get yourself some compartemental shlving boxes used for screws,nuts,washers etc etc. You'll be surprised how much shit you can fit into one.


Clif reserves the right to delete your comment if he is so inclined, but he is a pretty liberal guy so post away and see what happens.