Our fly fishing season in Ontario is about to start in earnest and with that comes the panic and excitement of ensuring that you possess all the right gear and, especially, all the right flies.
I've been tying frequently over the winter but before last weekend my tying had become inefficient and far less productive. This could be directly attributed to the state of chaos that was the evident in my bench and materials.
That's not exactly what a tyer should be striving for as the trout season rapidly approaches. So last weekend, I took a hint from my better half and organized my fly tying materials and workspace.
This is not something that we fly anglers like to do but trust me it pays off in countless little ways. I've already noticed a big difference.
For one thing, when I was sorting material in clear plastic containers, I was able to take inventory of what I had and, more importantly, what was needed. Because of this, I know that I need to stock up on materials like white marabou, size 14 nymph hooks, tungsten beads and the like. This is something you don't want to find out two days before a fishing trip.
Having sorted and labeled my materials also makes it much easier to sit down and prepare for a fly tying session. That's because, once I choose the pattern, I can immediately find the materials needed and lay them out so I'm ready to go. This makes for far better use of precious fly tying time.
When organizing a bench and materials, it's also good to think about your tying processes. Do that and you'll realize that you are most efficient when everything is laid out in a familiar place — bobbin here, scissors there, head cement there — so that you don't even think about where they are. I do this with material too and have utilized several recycled ice cream containers as trays where each component required to build a fly is laid out. Hooks go in the first tray, hackles in the next, dubbing in the next, ribbing in another — that sort of thing. This helps keep the guesswork of where the material is to a minimum.
When it comes to processes, you should add one more to your list. That is, whenever you are finished tying a pattern, put the materials away. Don't let things accumulate on your bench — that's how these disasters happen in the first place.
What's really beneficial about a spring cleaning of your fly bench is the mental aspect. Tying in a neat, organized space gives you a peace of mind that's conducive to doing quality work. That translates to flies you can be proud of.
I'm now no longer deterred from tying a pattern due to the work involved in finding the materials required. I know exactly where they are and how much I have.
That means it will be easy to keep my fly boxes filled with the right flies this year. My better half was right...