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chugbug27

Categorizing Flies for Storage

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Last year I spent a decent amount of time organizing my materials, hooks, and tools, and I'm very happy with the results. Now it's time to organize my flies. Yikes. 

I've got the boxes I want to put them in:

5D Diamond Storage Cases for almost everything size 12 and smaller:

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15-Grid Jewelry Organizer with Removable Dividers, for most other flies size 10 and bigger:

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Bigger stuff like deer hair bugs will go in bigger boxes, but those aren't the problem.

The problem is, how to categories my flies within these boxes for ease of expansion and ease of access. My goal is to keep and refill my flies in this storage system (and expand it as I tie new flies), and then use that storage system to pick and choose flies for boxes I put together for specific outings or for specific gifts. (I'll keep certain fly boxes intact and fill them from this storage system as I lose flies.)

I'm hoping that the tyers with far more years in it than I (i.e., the vast majority of active posters here) will share their experience and advice. I have some ideas, but they're all half-baked -- and my past way of doing things has left me with a bunch of fly boxes and a bunch of storage boxes, amongst which are a bunch of flies that have no relationship to each other and that I have no memory of what they are and why I tied them...  

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I'm not sure if this is what you're asking, I got a couple of these relix bags, 1 for salmon and 1 for trout and grayling. Lots of storage in them, can accommodate 6 plano box---5 inside and 1 on top--- and everything else needed for the fishing trip (leaders, pliers, beer etc). I think paid 45$ cad for the bag and came with 5 trays.DSC_0001.thumb.JPG.75f6406a371b8bdf14b2a627d2427bee.JPG

 

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I get these plano box from Walmart for around 5$ cad, perfect size for the bags

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I usually bring both bags when going fishing, heck they stay on the back seat of the truck for most of the season.

 

 

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For use, right now I've got 17 boxes, either 6"x 8" or  5" x 7" made from plastic photo boxes I picked up in craft stores, lined with 6 mm craft foam with slits cut in it.  I picked up a soft tackle tackle bag at Dick's similar to the one upnorthtier has, though mine came with 3 Plano  boxes that went in a large regular tackle box, I store my dark side tackle in. My bag only opens only from the top, but it has storage pockets on the side and one on the front that will hold my fly reels, spare spools, fighting butts, tippet spools and one on top and can put my furled leaders and other odds and ends in.  It holds all 17 boxes, might even be able squeeze a couple of more in.  The boxes hold between 12 and 30 flies depending on the size of the flies.  The boxes are sorted into panfish, bass/saltwater.  Surface and subsurface.  This one is now storage and carryall for flies I would take on a  fishing trip or vacation.  I have a smaller Cabela's bag, similar set up that holds 8 or 9 of the boxes.  That's mainly my boat bag or stream/shore bag.

Trout I've only have 4 boxes these days.  One for various dry flies, one for nymphs and soft hackles, one for midges and one for trout size mop flies, floating and nymph.  They fit in my vest or a small carry bag.  Plus of bureau drawer full of boxes of various sizes containing flies I don't use, flies that are ugly, experiments or badly tied.  One special one for flies I've gotten from well-known tyers or really good ones I've gotten in swaps.  

 

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For storage I simply use stiff cardboard (got double walled corrugated cardboard boxes from when I did peritoneal dialysis - each help 10 liters of solution) plus 1/4" foam weather stripping.  Works nice - each sheet can be labeled as I need.

Kim

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Thanks guys, I'm happy enough with my storage, it's the organization of what's going in there that I'm hoping to get on top of....

1 hour ago, Philly said:

Plus of bureau drawer full of boxes of various sizes containing flies I don't use, flies that are ugly, experiments or badly tied. 

Maybe that's my answer?

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Chug, my motivation is the local fly fishing trade show which happens in 3 weeks.  Every year I come home with packages of material(s) that I'm convinced I need only to find the identical stuff (usually unopened) in my storage box.  I'm going to inventory my stuff this year and make a list on my phone of things I actually need, want or at least don't already have.

As for fly storage- I forced myself to scale down to 3 of the large (4 1/2" x 7 1/2") boxes and I only carry 1 or 2 at a time on the water.  The overhangs and submerged structures of the streams I fish along with me "testing" my casting limits results in a lot of  empty spots in my boxes.  

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I found myself in a similar situation many years ago.  I tie way too many flies to store them in fly boxes.  But the consequence of tying so many flies was that I had a lot of empty hook boxes.  So, now when I tied a dozen flies, they immediately go into an empty hook box which are stored in large craft boxes.  I have several of them labeled Dry, Nymph and Streamer.  You'd be surprised how many flies you can store this way.  The one upside of this method is that when I want to try a new pattern out on the river or have tied a bunch of extras of my favorite flies, I can just pop the hook boxes into my pocket or boat bag and not have to bother transferring them to a fly box.  Works for me.

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17 hours ago, chugbug27 said:

He said "Now it's time to organize my flies."

Oh, how we laughed.  Caught our breath, then looked at each other and laughed again!   😉

You're a brave man.  I think you have the direction you want to go already.  Let it develop and morph it a system that works for you.  Don't use permanent labels or stickers yet.  Drop a tag into the compartment if you need labels for now.  I would suggest buying 4 times the amount of storage boxes you think you will need.  If this works out, the boxes you are accustomed to may not be available when you need more.

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i too think you already have the method of storage figured out

good luck

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I'm thinking my initial message was muddled... I'm trying to think through how to categorize the flies better than just dries, emergers and wets, which ends up jumbling too many different flies together for me to sift through all the nymphs looking for something specific, for instance.  Breaking that down further into mayflies, caddis, midges etc is tough because there are so many flies that could be in two or three categories, or no categories, and others that are meant for one specific type of mayfly, for instance. I was thinking maybe a fly encyclopedia book might have a nicely organized way of categorizing flies, but it wouldn't be useful for me to do it alphabetically by name of fly or name of originator. Maybe there's a fly shop with a good method of categorizing flies in their bins. Or maybe I'm a fool for trying. In the past I've just jumbled through all my flies occasionally to fill boxes as best I can, but then I end up with too many leftover boxes that seem to be filled with jumbled nonsense.

Maybe that's just the way it is.

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Geez; I just put what I tie in a bowl and grab some out when I go fishing. If I was smart, which I’m not, I’d have 4 bowls for wets, dries, nymphs and streamers, with the biggest one for dries, since that’s what I fish the most.

Regards,
Scott

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1 hour ago, chugbug27 said:

I'm thinking my initial message was muddled... I'm trying to think through how to categorize the flies better than just dries, emergers and wets, which ends up jumbling too many different flies together for me to sift through all the nymphs looking for something specific, for instance.  Breaking that down further into mayflies, caddis, midges etc is tough because there are so many flies that could be in two or three categories, or no categories, and others that are meant for one specific type of mayfly, for instance. I was thinking maybe a fly encyclopedia book might have a nicely organized way of categorizing flies, but it wouldn't be useful for me to do it alphabetically by name of fly or name of originator. Maybe there's a fly shop with a good method of categorizing flies in their bins. Or maybe I'm a fool for trying. In the past I've just jumbled through all my flies occasionally to fill boxes as best I can, but then I end up with too many leftover boxes that seem to be filled with jumbled nonsense.

Maybe that's just the way it is.

I think you are on the right track. What we are talking about is back-stock. It's time for me to go back and do it again too. I'm sure I have a couple of thousand to sort.

What I try to do is exactly that. A box for wets. In that box is a bin for PTNs, (maybe two if I have enough to sub-divide into colors or sizes) and one for spiders, one or two for princes, two or three bins for muddlers. I have one whole box for just woolly worms and buggers all divided into colors, sizes and beaded and non-beaded. I also have a whole box for just egg patterns.

I have several boxes for dries, and several for streamers. One for poppers and a couple for salt water streamers.

I have also tried to categorize for warm and cold water. I've tried to segregate for species of target fish and for fresh and salt water. Of course, they will all have cross-overs.

It definitely gets more complicated depending on how many types of water you fish, the number of species you fish, and the different weights of line you fish.

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I presently organize by bug species as that's how they hatch here in CO and so that's how if fish. Not that several hatches don't overlap, they do. But I'm not reaching for my Caddis box in the middle of winter, I carrying a midge box, a BWO box and a selection of generic attracter nymphs. I try to get all stages in a box from Larva to Dun. Various sizes too.

This is not to say I don't store many extras, I do and I organize those the same away and refill my mobile boxes as needed. 

I wouldn't claim I have a perfect system......it can be a pain. But just sharing what I've devolved to over time.

 

 

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Chug,

 

FWIW, I categorize my flies in the storage boxes by what they imitate, you know, shrimps, crabs, mullet, peanut bunker, etc..

Attractor patterns that don't technically imitate any specific species or bait go into a box or boxes for prospecting. Cat Barf Flies (CBF's) also have their own box.  Sometimes the ugliest experiment works or I can just amuse myself by trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking.

I find this method makes it easier to pack for an excursion because I can narrow my choices to what bait is predominant (or at least I hope) based on where I plan to go. I can also see what I am lacking and need to stock on before the weather breaks and indoor activities evaporate.

Don't see why method won't work with your favorites. 

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Some I would organize by hatch. One box with PMD nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners, another box with BWOs, another for Salmonflies and Golden stones... etc. Others I would organize by type such as attractor dry flies, soft hackles... Now, if I would only put that plan into action 🙄

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