Things wound on any sort of spool it would
seem, just love to come unwound, and then coil themselves
about anything just to aggravate the fly tyer. Yes, I have been
the frequent victim of the insidious snare of tinsel, floss, thread,
lead wire, chenille and other "stringy" assassins of efficiency
and good order.
But, take heart, we have the technology, we
have the means by which to triumph over these kinky little
devils. There are several methods to tame these unwieldy
materials. This is but one, which works very well.
First, separate them into groups. Tinsels here
in this pile, 3/0 thread in this one, 6/0 in that, floss over here,
and so on. There, we have several nice groups of similar
materials. What's that, you don't know if the thread is 3/0,
6/0, 8/0 or 12/0? Well join the club! For a long time I
couldn't tell either. It seems the thread companies in an
effort no doubt to amuse themselves greatly, fasten the
little labels in a fashion that is bound to fail at the first
revolution of the bobbin.
The solution for this deficiency is very
simple. When you get the spool home, use nail polish,
or some other fast drying paint, or a marker pen to color
the end of the spool according to size. Mark out a color
scheme, i.e. red for 3/0, black for 6/0 etc . . . Write it down,
I'll show you where to put the note in a minute. You can
use a similar system for the other materials as well. Just
mark down what color is representative of which size or
type of material.
OK, we have all of the thread marked.
Now get yourself a thread container. This can
be home made, store bought, or even rescued from a trip to
the town dump. I use these little plastic sandwich containers
obtained from the dollar store at about 3 for $1. they are just
the right height for the thread to stand upright. They are also
good for another reason which we will see in a minute or two.
Lead wire can be kept quite nicely in a 35mm
plastic film can. Cut a slit, or drill a 1/4 hole in the can and
feed the end of the wire through. This gives you something
to hold while applying weight to your hook, and using it right
out of the can means no waste. This also works well for tinsel.
A label on the top of the can, and the contents
thereof will never be a mystery again.
Floss is better kept like the thread. Of course
you can also store the wire and tinsel as you did the thread
also, which has an advantage as we shall see.
OK you get the picture, little boxes, each one as specific
as possible to a type and size of material.
Having made your color key to identify your
material, fasten a copy on the top of each container. You
will never have to guess which thread or tinsel or wire size
you have again, it is right there where you need it!
Got a bunch of other little clutter gremlins in
that mass of supplies in front of you. Well sort them out.
You know eyes here, beads there, etc. Put each of these in
it's own little box, according to type of material and size. If
you only have a few eyes, put them in with the beads, or
whatever makes sense to you.
After you have all of these little things done,
(we will do feathers, furs and such later) stack your boxes
and set them aside to make room for the next part of our project.
Using address labels, or plain paper and
cotch tape, make a label for each box. Don't go nuts here,
just mark it "eyes," "foam ant bodies," "3/0 thread" etc.
Now if you put them on a shelf with the name
facing you, you are way ahead of where we started. You could
if you have the resources, make a rack like I have pictured here
to hold your little sandwich box organizers. This has a carry
handle, but can be hung on the wall or just stood up on the bench.
You may be tempted at this point to try to list
the contents of the little boxes somewhere so you do not have
to open the boxes to see exactly what they contain. Avoid the
temptation at this point, we have a system for that too. And after
trying many we can save you the frustration of constantly
improving on yours.
Winter is unfortunately long so we have plenty
of time to refine our system, and still have time to tie all of the
flies we will need for spring.
Next week we'll do the feathers and furs and etc.
Write me with your suggestions! (hell, I stole a lot of these
from other people, might as well steal yours too!) ~ George Emanuel