This is my current fly tying desk. My studio. My laboratory. My sanctuary.
It’s not perfect, but it’s cozy and comfortable. I’ve got my non-typical pronghorn on the wall (a little taste of my Wyoming roots), my red chair that our cat has claimed and turned into a fantastic scratching arena (though it’s still well worth a sit when getting lost in a John Gierach essay), and a south facing window. The window is key, especially during Alaskan winters. Days are short; according to weather underground, today’s “daylight” was technically 5 hours and 58 minutes. The plus is we’re on the upswing – tomorrow we’ll officially be back over 6 hours! Point being, getting some sunlight, however brief, is incredibly welcome this time of year.
It’s not a huge space, but we don’t live in a huge house. It’s adequate to keep my vise, tools, and essential materials at hand. And to be fair, my material collection has long since outgrown being able to be stored all within arms reach. I have an old dresser in this room that holds my most commonly used materials: hooks, tubes, brass eyes and beads, dubbing, flash, wire, fly boxes and the like, along with a couple of “rotating” drawers that I can load up with relevant materials depending on what patterns I’m into at the moment. Several small totes keep materials organized and handy: marabou, strung hackle, rabbit zonker strips, fox fur, yarn, etc. Out in the garage, several totes and organizers hold all my bulk and bulky feathers, furs, hides, capes, saddles, and pelts. Everything is organized further with Ziploc bags. Man do I love Ziploc bags. I hoard away every one I can get my hands on, big and small.
So again, not perfect. But functional. And over the years it’s grown into an efficient system. And the space is permanent, in that I can stand up and walk away leaving things just as they are (handy when you have a one-year-old running around). A permanent space for tying flies is critically important; having my vise always set up, tools handy, materials at the ready, enables me to make productive use of a few extra minutes in the morning or a cold beer in the evening. Without doubt, I’d tie far fewer flies and have progressed much less in my tying skill if I had to dig out all my tools and set up a work space each time I wanted to wrap a few hooks. Over the years this black desk has moved through just about every room in the house, but it’s always been available (and I think it’s finally found a permanent home, at least until we outgrow this house all together). If you don’t have a permanent set up to tie your flies, I strongly urge you to find a space – in a spare bedroom, in the far corner of the living room, in the basement, in the garage, whatever you can manage – to lay claim to a permanent tying station. You’ll become a much better tier for it, and find you have a lot more time to tie when you’re not unpacking and cleaning up with every session.