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The practical (and therapeutic) benefits of organizing your fly boxes - Skwala Fishing

The practical (and therapeutic) benefits of organizing your fly boxes

“Discipline makes things easier. Organize your life.”—Dead Prez

Do streamers, hoppers, stoneflies, and midges spring out like evil jack-in-the-boxes when you pop your bug locker? If so, keep reading.

Well organized fly boxes make fishing easier, more efficient, and more effective. Disorganized boxes force you to waste valuable fishing time searching for flies. Also, this isn’t hockey. Your fishing bag shouldn’t be full of pucks.

You might consider organizing flies boring, but keep in mind people say the same thing about fly fishing. If you can’t find satisfaction from a relatively futile, non-competitive activity, this might not be for you. Maybe try pickeball.

Don’t approach fly organization as a chore. Think of it as an opportunity.

Know What You Have and Where to Find It.
If you get in the habit of going through all your flies at least once a season and putting them in their proper place, you’ll always know which bugs you have and where they’re hiding. Equally important, you’ll know what you don’t have. Next time you stop into the fly shop (or sit down at the vice), you’ll fill those empty gaps instead of buying bugs based on your vague recollection of what you might need or whatever the shop kid suggests. You don’t actually need any more size 16 beadhead pheasant tails, but you’re out of 18s, a fact you would know if you organized your boxes.

Thin the Herd
If you’ve been at this for any number of seasons, you’ve acquired an eclectic selection of flies along the way. Some of the patterns you bought or tied haven’t seen the end of a leader in a season, or ten. Maybe it was a specific fly you got for a particular destination. Maybe you were experimenting with a new pattern or material. Maybe that fly used to be a ringer but it stopped working and now you’ve lost the faith. Those flies need to go...somewhere else. Think of your main boxes as your starting line-up. Don’t let your second string take up valuable spots. Pull out all the flies you’re not fishing. (You can keep them in a beater box in the garage, or better yet, give them to a neighbor kid who will love you forever.) Those empty spaces will remind and motivate you to replace them with flies you will (or might) use.

Assess the Status of Your Flies
When you go through your boxes row by row, you might notice that some of your bugs are no longer mint. Rubberlegs can rot. Biots can fall off. Squirmy worms can melt. Worst of all, hooks can rust. You can re-attach legs and biots, and chewed up foam hoppers still get bit, but even a spot of rust means that your hook is shot. Don’t risk losing the fish of a season. Throw out anything with rust. (Don’t give those to the neighbor kid. That would be mean.)

The Satisfaction of Creating Order from Chaos
We’ve covered some practical benefits of fly box organization, but spending a few hours in meditation over your fly collection also soothes the psyche. You get to relive a whole lifetime of fishing memories. Remember the trip to Rock Creek when you first discovered the micro-may? Or how about that time you and your buddy got kicked out of the diner in Wyoming for setting up a fly tying station in the booth and leaving mallard feathers everywhere? Flies are more than objects to fool fish; they’re artifacts, mementos, pointed memories.
Putting your collection in order offers a sort of Zen satisfaction. Perfectly organized rows of parachutes arranged top to bottom by size and color calms the anxious monkey mind.
Organizing flies
Get Creative
Do you remember the album organization scene from High Fidelity? When Rob describes the process of re-organizing his records autobiographically as “therapeutic?” You can do something similar with your flies. You can organize your boxes by pattern, by target species, by region or body of water. You can organize them by color, or size, or by any other classification that makes sense to you. Best of all, if you get in the habit of doing this regularly, you can re-organize them according to a different need next time.

Quit being lazy and get your flies in order. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the process.
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