Tips for fly tying organization and storage

Anyone who ties even a few flies has an immediate problem: What do I do with all this stuff? Get it organized to tie better and more efficiently.


If you are like me, you tie a ton of flies. I think I have almost hit the 1,000-fly mark, so I need to put them somewhere. Those bead storage boxes that they sell at craft stores (Michael’s, Joann’s, etc) are a cost effective and practical solution.

I have a few boxes that are for my smaller nymphs and dry flies, plus a few more that have longer compartments for my streamers and deer hair bugs. This lets you find the flies you need for each trip and lets you stockpile and replenish on-the-water boxes so you always have enough flies.

You don’t have to be a fly tier to use this, if you buy flies this also works great.

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Keep the hook side down (or up)

Some flies are designed to let the hook ride point down. Others want it riding point up. Regardless of the preference, there are a couple of ways to make sure the fly rides true on the swing. This is important with your fly, we don’t want spinning or a hook riding sideways. We only get a few shots at winter fish on a swung fly, so every detail counts.

  • Tie dumbbell eyes on the side of the hook you want pointing down. When the fly hits the water, the heavy eyes go down first and determine the position of everything else.
  • Tie directly onto a large hook (Alec Jackson steelhead hooks) They might be considered the old-school way to keep a fly upright, but Harry Lemire caught steelhead long before people were blogging about it. There’s a fine line between the right amount of wing to do the job and so much material that the fly doesn’t sink. Experiment with different amounts to find that balance, and you can always buy a pattern and inspect it to get a feel for proportion.
  • Throw a wing on it. Yup, put some material opposite of weight and desired hook direction and give her a keel! (see the video of Mr. Berry’s fly swimming true).

Build swinging flies for steelheads with the right profile

dsc_0478-e1382933296929When building flies to swing for steelhead, keep in mind how big in the water you want the fly to be.

For big profile flies, wrap a ball of chenille or dubbing behind your hackle to help the fibers stand up against the current. You want enough material that the fly doesn’t compress. Streamlined flies don’t need the support. Tie up both varieties to use in different conditions.

Regardless of the profile you’re tying at the moment, use less material than you think you need. You want your fly very sparse so it can sink through the water column. Too much material and it’ll never get down, and the movement of your oh-so-fancy natural materials will be limited with overdressing!

Fly Fishing Crawfish Patterns

Crayfish, crawdad, mud bug, crawfish: Names that describe one of the most under-utilized flies for both bass and trout. This staple food source in many rivers and lakes rarely gets any room in a fly box for some unknown reason. People have caught countless bass and mega trout on this common crustacean. I am specifically going to talk about tying and fishing this fly for smallies, but just about everything can be applied to trout.

A crayfish is a forage feeder that mainly eats small fish, nymphs, and decomposing flesh (fish, crayfish, dead animals, waste). They are nocturnal and sometimes move around during the day. They like to hide in cover like a bass in places like rocks, rock piles, erosion control areas, bridge pilings, algae, root systems and undercut banks. A crayfish, because it is a crustacean, has to molt to grow so for a time they are extremely vulnerable.

Tying the fly isn’t hard and you have a number of options for imitating the crayfish.

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7 Tips to make fly tying fast and easy


Your tools are the most important part in tying. If you don’t have good or even the right tools, fly tying becomes a huge pain. There are a few tools to be sure to have and make sure they are quality.

First off, have a pair of fine point tying scissors. A pair that either can be sharpened or a pair that are micro serrated so you can be sure they will cut right every time (it is incredibly annoying when scissors miss-cut). Another tool one should have is a ceramic bobbin. The ceramic part is key, it stops the metal tube from cutting your thread. Have a whip finish tool handy also.

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