Oasis “Lazy Susan” Fly Tying Organizer

Oasis Lazy Susan

After I took an introductory class on fly tying at the Gig Harbor Fly Shop, purchasing fly tying materials and tools became the obsession. It became almost immediately clear there would be a need to find someplace to put “stuff”, to borrow the metaphor from George Carlin’s brilliant comic routine.

The material was easy – I have a few organizer plastic boxes I got at Target. In them go the feathers, hair, flash, eyes, and hooks. Easily stacked, translucent, and able to be stored in a drawer.

The bigger issue was tools. I didn’t want to have to put everything in a box or bag and have to pull everything each time it was time to tie. In addition, I thought keeping the tools and vise on display would serve as a reminder to get tying; and would make my desk look like a little bit of a fly shop.

After seeing what was available, I decided on Oasis Fly Tying Benches’ The Lazy Susan. Compact (8 inches by 8 inches by 9 inches tall), with room for a lot of things in little bit of space, the small bench is perfect for someone who needs a small footprint on a desk or work area.
This is a two-layer platform – the top for tools, the bottom for spools and other materials. The platform attaches to the base via a metal ball bearing roller, making rotation of the unit very smooth and easy. I like that feature.

The top platform has 24 holes for tool storage – scissors, bobbins, bodkins, bobbin threaders, and anything else. My only criticism is I wish a few of the holes were a bit larger for bigger scissors or forceps, but it’s only a small nit.

The bottom layer has 12 brass rods (that you install yourself – so you have to be a bit careful to get them all at the same height) making space for 24 spools of thread or other material. There are large holes around the lower layer, providing room for glues, hair stackers, etc. The only problem I’ve found so far is that my Zap-a-Gap bottle is too large for the medium holes and too small for the large holes, so it tends to fall over if I spin the unit.

In addition, there is a hook to hang hackle pliers and a foam insert for bodkins. And there is a magnetic patch on the lower layer for hooks and razors.

For me, it’s about perfect.

You can find it at a number of online retailers or directly from Oasis. I’ve found prices vary a bit, but it’s basically around $90. You can order it from Oasis here.

Orvis and Trout Unlimited Partner to Repair Culverts

Many years ago, I was in graduate school, studying water resources (Department of Civil Engineering, Oregon State University). Not having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I wasn’t familiar with the problems of migratory fish – specifically, salmon. A lot of research was going on regarding fish ladders and ways to get the salmon around the dams on the Columbia River drainage basis.

Now these many years later, the problems still exist – not just fish ladders, but culverts that impact fish in rivers and streams across the country.

This year (2014) Trout Unlimited has partnered with Orvis in the 1,000 Miles campaign, the goal of which is to reconnect 1,000 miles of fishable streams by repairing or replacing poorly constructed culverts that have restricted the passage of fish.

This is a worthwhile endeavor that will benefit everyone. You can learn more here.

There’s a nice video that explains the problem and shows a lot of nice footage of streams.

Another benefit of this campaign is that Orvis is matching every donation to Trout Unlimited.

Killing Trout for the Hero Shot

Look at the majority of fishing (fly or not) magazines and web sites, and there’s typically a photo of someone holding a recently caught fish. You know the photo – the one with the smiling person proudly holding the sought after fish. It’s understandable to some degree – it’s about a trophy and sharing a memory of the event.

But what’s often not clear to me is whether that fish is being returned to the stream or water, or whether it will wind up in someone’s fry pan later that day. In many cases, and required in sport fisheries, those fish will be returned to the water. What’s left to ponder is how many of those fish ultimately survive the encounter.

There are many causes if they do not: Using too light a tackle and playing the fish too long; think about that next time someone tells you how they really like to use “too light” tackle. Or careless handling – stripping the protective mucous from the fish by not wetting hands before handling the fish. Or tossing the fish back into the water rather than letting it swim out of your hands.

And then there’s the most obvious – holding the fish up and away from the water for the shot of the happy fisher with the prized catch.

It’s difficult to resist. I know that. I posted earlier about my careless handling of a sea run cutthroat trout. That led me to the use of a net for all catches. See my post here.

But for those determined to hold up the fish for the prized photo, the fish needs to be held carefully to avoid damage to the heart, liver and gills.

Bishfish has an excellent post that shows examples of crushing grips – the same kind of grips one often sees in photos – that likely lead to fish mortality. There is also a photo of a fish held properly.

As I said above, it’s difficult to resist the urge to get the trophy shot; as either a keepsake or as proof of one’s skill with a rod.

But with the pressure on fisheries everywhere, unless the fish is to be taken and eaten, it should be left in the water. A fish in the net can still be a great photo.

Perhaps the ethic John Muir expressed about the woods – “Take only memories, leave only footprints” – needs to become the ethic of the 21st sport fisherman: “Take only memories, and leave the fish in the water.”

You can read the Bishfish post here.

Fly Tying 101

GHFS Image

A year ago I got a small fly tying kit as a 2012 Christmas gift. That should have been the impetus to take a class. But other events, the decision to move to Gig Harbor, and all that came after that put fly tying off in favor of moving and fly-fishing.

So I signed up late last year when the Gig Harbor Fly Shop scheduled its classes for the first weekend of January.  Blake Merwin, the shop owner, taught the class.  Originally we were going to tie three trout patterns, but the student interest was on flies for the local saltwater so we first tied a woolly bugger, the moved to a Clouser Minnow, and finished up with a small trout fly.

What I found fascinating was how easy it was to begin well and then start making mistakes, which are the inevitable costs of learning. As it most things there were three reasons for mistakes:  not knowing what I was doing, struggling to keep up through thread breaks or losing tension on the fixed vise that came with the kit; and finally lack of muscle memory.

With all that, it was still an intriguing and relaxing three hours.

One thing Blake told us was that even for him each new pattern needed to be tied at least six times before he felt as if he had it down.  That was a good bit of perspective.

And as we were wrapping Blake told us we weren’t the worst class he ever had – not by a long shot.  Good – may as well be in the middle where most people start.

As the class concluded, I ran over to the area of the vises and made my first purchase: a new Renzetti Saltwater Traveler 2300.  I knew I was going to learn to like tying and a new vise was the place to start.