December 28th, 1998
"Getting Organized, Part 2"

by George Emanuel (aka Muddler)

Photos by the author



Does your bench look like this?

Ok, you have determined that you are going to get organized, but where do you start? The answer? You start where you are!

Do you live alone ? This is a very important question as your activities will affect others of your household, as well as the quality of your own life if you do not seriously consider their needs as well as your own.

Are you in an apartment? A house? Do you have a basement? Do you live in a warm climate and have a garage? Can you steal a closet from the cat?

No matter your answers to the above, you need a place to tie, and store materials and equipment, or at least a place readily accessible to where you tie, for material storage. This is not necessarily a large area we need, but one that will be exclusive. Nothing is as discouraging as wading through all kinds of other accumulated wealth to get to what we need for tying up a few flies, as time and opportunity offer. And you will tie many, many more flies if you can just sit down at the bench and go.

As to a place to tie, it could be no more complex than a kitchen table, a corner in the basement, a part of the garage, or God forbid you have the luxury of a "tying room". It should be comfortable, well lighted, and reasonably clean with enough cladding on the walls to keep the wind from blowing your materials away.

If at all possible a floor with no carpet is desirable. Not only do hooks get imbedded in the weave of carpets, but feathers and fur sweep up much more easily than they can be vacuumed from the death grip of your Berber. You are also less likely to be bare footed on a non-carpeted floor, hence, lowering the odds that you will impale yourself with that hook which burrowed into the nap of your plush carpeting. If you are in an apartment, or otherwise must tie over carpeting, a section of plastic, or tarp will save you much grief.

You are, however, better off not letting the scraps hit the floor in the first place! Now, there are some neat little bags and things that clip to the vise, into which you may deposit the scraps of your labors. But, I have a few cheaper ideas for catching all of those trimmings. Every Christmas, you no doubt receive gifts in what I call shirt boxes. Some of these are larger than others, the smaller ones are often best. All you need do to make a great little scrap collection device is punch a hole a few inches from the edge through which you insert the shaft of your vise, then inserting the shaft into the clamp. And viola! you have just saved yourself a bunch of aggravation at cleanup time. If your wife is not looking you can do a real bang up job with a shallow cake pan, or even a cookie sheet. You can also buy either one at a dollar store. A pedestal vise just sits in the box, no holes are needed.


Speaking of which, Dollar Stores are a great place for all sorts of flyfishing and tying stuff ! But don't tell them, or else they'll raise their prices.

Ok, now to see the fly so we can trim it, and have our cuttings fall neatly into our "scrap retainage and disposal device".

There are many good specialty lights on the market geared toward our pursuits. If they are within your budget, by all means indulge yourself in procuring one. There are also available at office supply stores, catalogues outlets and etc. what are called "high intensity lights" these are typically lower voltage halogen units, which generate a tremendous amount of light for their size. They can also serve other uses quite readily as well.

Light is absolutely essential to quality and comfort in tying. Scrimp if you must, but a decent light will truly add to your enjoyment just as much as that rotary hackle pliers you were looking at, and for just a bit more money.


For those of us who are a bit older, magnification is a really big asset to bring to the bench. Many types of magnifiers are available, but I prefer the ones that are integral with the light to avoid the introduction of shadows on the work. These again run the gamut of price. Mine was about $130.00, but they can be had for perhaps $20.00, or less, at a flea market or yard sale. (Mine coincidentally mounts to my rod wrapping machine and was actually a part of that purchase, so for tying purposes I merely adapted it. (Do you have something on hand you can adapt? )

A bench? Yes, I said bench. A sturdy device, which looks like a table, upon which an elephant could procreate! Well, maybe not that sturdy, but it should be more than a fold-up card table, unless that is all you have.

Sears, and others sell small, 2' X 4' or so, work benches with a nice top and a couple of drawers for less than a hundred bucks. These are well worthwhile if your budget, and space available, will permit their acquisition. If you are handy, home made is great, you get what you want with them. The kitchen table will do in a pinch. (cover the area where you are tying however, with newspaper or some other protective cover, before you get glue onto the finish. Most of these are finished with Formica, and glue plays hell with that material.

That about does it for the where, next time we will begin to get into the how to set up your storage system so you know what you have, and where you put it.

Write me with your suggestions! (hell, I stole a lot of these from other people, might as well steal yours too!) ~ George Emanuel


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
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