As the winter months slowly pass by, I spend a lot time behind the vise at the fly tying desk. The time behind the vise is well spent. There are holes in fly boxes that need to be filled. Fly boxes of all types, salt water, warm water, trout and salmon, and of course panfish boxes sit beside my desk ready to be examined. As each box is checked the list of flies that need to be tied grows. The size of that list is increased when I add all of the new patterns I want to try this season.
As I was putting in some time behind at the vise last night, I got to thinking about my current tying set up and what changes I could make to make things a little better. It seems that once again I have outgrown my space. This problem seems to surface every few years. If your fortunate enough to have a space dedicated to tying flies you know what I am talking about. If your still tying flies at the kitchen table, working out of a shoe box or tow of tools and materials there are a few reasons you should consider finding a dedicated fly tying space.
A space dedicated to fly tying will make you a better fly tier.
In my opinion, having a dedicated tying space is critical taking your fly tying skills to the next level. If you always have to set up and break down your fly tying area you are apt to tie less often. In addition, time setting up and cleaning up is time taken away from tying flies. Having a dedicated tying space with your tools and materials at the ready will allow you to tie flies more often. The key to getting better at anything is repetition. It’s simple the more you tie flies, the better fly tier you will become. It also allows you to store your materials so you can access them quickly easily. Tool holders let you store your fly tying tools safely yet keep them accessible. You will no longer have to dig out those shoe boxes containing your vise, tools and materials, then clear off a spot at the table. With a dedicated spot to tie flies your ready to go at a moments notice!
Good lighting is important.
Once you have somewhere to tie, it is critical to have a well-lit workspace. Good lighting is important. When I was fly tying at the kitchen table, proper lighting was always an issue. I used a portable desk lamp, but it was never quite enough light for fly tying. I have noticed as the years pass the need for well-lit workspace has become more and more critical for my aging eyes.
Happy wife happy life…
Having a dedicated tying space will also keep peace in the household if you share it with someone else. When I first started fly tying my materials collection was small (now it fills an entire room!) and fit into a few boxes. I would set up on the kitchen or dining room table and have at it. When I was done it often looked like a small bird or mammal blew up on the table. Try as I might, I could not contain my mess to the table. Inevitably debris would end up on the floor only to be tracked elsewhere into the house. Living alone it was not a big deal, I could always eat standing at the kitchen counter, and a little rabbit fur in your dinner never hurt anyone. Once I had married, it was a different story. It was not long before the boss put her foot down and demanded I remove my “dead animals” from anywhere food is consumed. The kitchen and dining room table were strictly off limits. Fortunately, there was an extra bedroom in the house for me and my “dead animals”.
Give yourself room to grow.
Once you have the space you need something to work on. For me, it was an old desk. When I first moved in the drawers of the desk swallowed up my meager supplies with plenty of room to share. Unfortunately, that did not last long. The problem with having a dedicated tying space meant I did more fly tying. Tie flies more often, and you will need more materials. Buy more materials, and you will need somewhere to store them. Do you see where this is going? That’s right, as the years passed all of the desk’s drawers were overflowing and plastic bins of materials started showing up in the corners of the room. Once again the boss brought down her mighty foot. Something had to be done to clean up the clutter. After all, it was a spare bedroom, and the guests did not need to see the “dead animals”. My search for a solution resulted in me buying a massive roll-top desk, with plenty of drawers, nooks, and crannies to put my stuff. There was the added benefit of a closing the desk to keep my “dead animals” hidden from sensitive eyes.
This solution worked, for a while, in time the tie more, buy more and store more dilemma caught up with me. The desk drawers were overflowing, the nooks and crannies became filled, and the roll top stopped rolling because there was too much stuff in the desk. Then the dreaded plastic storage boxes and bins began to show up again. It was about this time that child number two came into the picture, and the spare bedroom was no longer mine to occupy, I was lost “my room.” My “dead animals” and I needed a new home.
The solution was a downstairs den that saw little use by the family. It was the coldest part of the house, but it did have a fireplace. It was perfect! The boss made it clear I could not take over the entire room as the family occasionally watched TV down there, especially in the summer when the coolness was appreciated. Something also had to be done about my overflowing desk that had become a bit of an eyesore.
A new desk needed to be purchased. This time it was a beautiful, custom, purpose built fly tying desk with cedar lined drawers, hidden compartments, a ton of storage room, it's own power and lighting systems and enough room for two tiers to tie side by side.
It swallowed up all of my materials and all was right with the world...for a while. Fast forward ten years later and you guessed it. The tie more, buy more, store more syndrome has once again reared its ugly head. The plastic bins and boxes have reappeared but with a vengeance this time. This time around, my family has given up on the space and my “dead animals, ” and I have now taken over.
I don’t know if I will ever have enough room for this hobby of mine. The den is a big room with plenty of space for stacks of plastic boxes, so I should be good for a few more years. It can get a little chilly down there, but a fire in the fireplace drives the cold out and feels good on my back as I tie a winter’s night away.