5 Tying Station No-No's

Just say "NO"

I realize this post might not go over well with a lot of people, but sometimes you just gotta help your friends make some informed decisions. And before anyone that reads this wants to punch me in the face because you're doing these things, I'll admit I've been guilty of most of these babies, so there you go! We're trying to help you from making the same mistakes we did.

1. Spooled threads and materials that are stored on those awesome spindle thingies. Here's an example of what I mean with the photo on the right.

"What's wrong this this?!!" you ask. Well for starters, what color thread is under the blue wire on the third row back? Yeah, I thought so. Even if you didn't have this staggered setup and could see each spindle in its entirety, you'd still have to remove the top spools to get to anything underneath them. Too much work.

Beyond that, having your thread out in the wide open like that turns it into a dust magnet. Makes for really clean flies when you already have a nice thin layer of brown "dubbing".

Good use of wall space
And more than anything, this method just isn't scalable. The collection above is probably from someone just getting started. But before too long, you'll have threads, tinsels, wires and other spooled materials in all colors, sizes and types. Good luck fitting them all on a spindle without going to something like this -->

So what do we recommend? I'm a big fan of small plastic drawer units or even tackle boxes. You can sort the spools out, keep them readily accessible and away from the awesome dust.

This guy violated two rules...oops!
2. Peg Board. I'm not sure what first made me so attracted to the idea of putting all my materials onto gigantic walls of pegboard spread-out all over my man-cave, but I went all out. (NOTE: The picture to the right is not mine. I was too embarrassed to shoot photos of that failed setup). Anyway, I put peg board on the walls, the closet and even built a peg board tool rack. But it didn't take too long to realize I was barking up the wrong tree.

First off, it never failed that the package of marabou I needed was at the back of the stack so I'd have to pull the whole bunch off the hook (and hope the stupid hook didn't come with it) and replace the ones I didn't need. What a pain! You'd probably save time by just throwing all your materials onto the floor. ;)

And probably the biggest inefficiency, I ended up having materials well beyond my reach as I was seated at my desk because they were spread out over such a large geographical area in my office. Ask yourself why do fly shops store materials this way. They do it so that they can showcase what they have and actually "fill" a fly shop. And once I got over the whole "Hey I need to spread out all my tying materials for all my friends to see how much stuff I've got", I realized it's more about efficiency. And pegboard is definitely not the most efficient way to store things for easy and re-usable access.

Look at all that storage space!
3. Roll Top Desks. So I probably just blasphemed some sort of fly tying station code of conduct right there, but yeah, I'm not a fan of the roll top desk. For starters, they have next to nothing in terms storage space. It might work for you as you get started, but you'll outgrow the minimal storage space soon enough. And while it's cool you can "hide" your fly tying mess in the middle of your living room, every time you want to tie, you'll still need to bust out the rest of the materials you have stored in the closet downstairs. Yeah, it won't take too long before you ditch that idea.

So forget all those fancy visions of tying flies on your roll top desk, smoking a cigar as you lounge in your flannel shirt and regale your friends with stories of 30 pound trout. I think the roll top is just an over-hyped super-expensive semi-useful piece of furniture. If you can spare the space, just get a cheap flat table or desk and build your station with portable storage. Much cheaper and you'll be able to store your materials without having to worry about running out of space or selling your kidney to afford a roll top.

4. Making your entire collection portable. For some reason, especially for people who may not have a set and/or dedicated space in their home or apartment for tying flies, tyers tend to think in terms of making sure their materials and tools are all fully and immediately portable. "Maybe I'll be tying at a show!", "What if I want to tie on my fishing trip?".  But again, when you're starting out, sure you might be able to pull off the trick of bringing your entire material and tool selection, but it won't take long to grow beyond that. So that means your best option is to just plan to keep your materials in one spot (even if it's in the closet) and then raid the collection for only the items you need to take. Then you use a bag, bin or suitcase of some sort to cart your materials to wherever you're going. Too many times I see tyers come to fly tying shows or demos around the country carting around what can only be assumed is their entire material and tool collection. That's just an unnecessary pain and limits how and where you can organize your stuff. Plus, if you ever travel longer distances with your loot, good luck with that. We have a hard enough time getting tying gear checked as baggage and moved around even with a very small subset of our tying stuff.

Cheech ties flies at his computer desk sometimes
5. Having your computer in the middle of your fly tying area. As a computer nerd over the years, I've seen some pretty nasty things happen to desktops and laptops and I can tell you that keyboards, mice or even monitors don't take well to spilled glue or paint, tiny bits of feathers or fur and other nasties that can make their way onto and into your expensive electronics. If you need to watch our fly tying videos at your tying station (which is an activity highly encouraged here), make sure to keep the electronics free and clear of materials, liquids and glues (with maybe a pull-out keyboard shelf?) and look to elevate your monitor above the fray so that it's not accidentally tagged with some errant scissors or a stray bodkin. A best case scenario, assuming you have the space, is to keep your computer/tying areas separated. And as you can see in the photo of Cheech here, too much time on the computer is ultimately going to take away from your tying time and possibly cause weight gain.

In the end, of course, there are no hard set rules in all of this. Do what works best for you. We're here to help with some friendly suggestions based on things not working for us in the past.