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Filling the fly box - Production tying tips

Its that time of the year when many of us are sitting down to restock our severely depleted fly boxes. As a guide, its surprising how many flies I can go through in a season and so have a few patterns I like to tie in bulk.

Whipping up a couple hundred size 14 nymphs isn’t as easy as it sounds, and when on such a mission, you’re tying for production, not for fun.

Here are a few tips that make my bulk ties a little bit easier to manage, and a lot quicker to fill.

1. Prep your hooks and lay them out. I use a sheet of foam to keep pre beaded hooks readily at hand. I find if you lay out a certain number, you’re more likely to tie them up as opposed to prepping and tying one at a time.

2. Lay out your materials in advance to save messing about with packets and untangling wire etc. Again if I have a ball of dubbing on the table Im more likely to keep tying until I use it all. Cut wing cases and rubber legs in advance, strip and prepare hackles.

3. Lay out 2 pairs of scissors, readily accessible if like me, you dont keep them in your hand throughout the tying process. Keeping your scissors in your hand saves a lot of time, but Ive never personally gotten used to that. Likewise, keep two bobbins at hand. Especially handy if you break off your thread in the middle of an important step, midway through your tie.

4. Use good quality tools. Nothing kills your mojo like your thread breaking in your bobbin or blunt, cheap scissors not doing their job quick and neat.

5. Keep only what is needed on the bench and keep it clutter free.

6. Minimise those wraps. If pulled tight, it only takes 3 or 4 wraps to secure most materials. And keep your thread short for faster, stronger more precisely laid wraps.

7. Ensure you have adequate lighting. Im a fan of natural light and so tying by the large, front windows throughout the day works for me, but a soft lamp aimed down from above highlights your vise, and is easy on the eyes when needed.

8. Remove distractions. The TV goes off once the tying starts unless you are the type who focusses more with a little background noise. Turn off your phone.

9. Keep water / snacks beside you. If you get up to make a snack, chances are you’ll get sidetracked and lose your momentum.

10. Like a job, set side the time to tie, say 0900 - 1200 with a scheduled break in between. Some people can sit down for marathon tying sessions whereas others may knock out a dozen flies and thats it. The benefit of setting our your bench as described above is that you can come and go as you need, and get straight back into it without fluffing around finding materials, threading beads onto hooks etc.

11. and finally, time your flies. If I know my first fly takes 2 minutes, then I’ll aim for 25-30ish in that first hour ( keeping it real, as we will still find distractions ). Always set goals, in everything you do.