Fly Tying Box – I wish mine was made in Scotland by Barr n’ Stroud!

Anyway, so I was in Decathlon and found a box that would be absolutely ideal for storing fly tying materials.

The only downside was it was £40 and made of plastic. It is actually some kind of coarse fishing box, something about Carp apparently. It sparked off a whole host of memories about fly tying storage which I am about to bore you with.

You see, back in the 80s when I was learning to tie flies (the first time) I used to rock up to Goldenhill Primary School in Hardgate to be instructed in a group setting by a guy called Danny. Danny was ancient to my early teenage eyes, he would tie a fly and then materials would be distributed around for us all to tie it up. I still remember him showing us parachute flies – these new fangled flies that people wanted to tie, not that he seen much use for them on lochs. 

The group was run by members of the Jaw and Cochno club which  I also had a membership to however to this day I have still not fished the lochs, I just had a membership to attend the classes. Danny had a pal named Jimmy who also provided light entertainment by asking lots of inappropriate questions and by telling him that quite frankly his flies were totally shite with great admiration. He would hold up one of his immaculate flies and with a quizzical look on his face ask “and you say this will catch an actual fish Danny?” 

To my early teen eyes these people were giants in the angling world – one of my friends fathers attended and for the first time I heard a grown up that I knew curse – in fact everyone here cursed and there was an understanding that I would not clipe on them and I did not. 

I was taken along by my mentor at the time a chap called Bill Murdoch who lived in Westerton and took me up to the Burncrooks on occasion. He also took my out on Loch Lomond with his brother Malkie who took great delight in stabbing his leg in front of me to give me a fright – turned out his leg was wooden and had been pulled off when at sea. They let me drink cups of tea with whiskey and then looked at me worriedly as I was obviously a little drunk and they had to drop me off at my parents. 

Anyway, a lot of these guys worked in Barr and Stroud and were engineers although they seemed to spend the majority of time in their work making fly tying tools and also boxes for their materials. My very first vice was made by an apprentice in the factory – the vice head was no fancy metal though, it was made out of a hardened clothes peg. I still have and use the whip finish tool that he gave me that was made at the same time. At one point I had thought I might join this long line of fly fishers that worked in the factory and would be reminded of it when seeing the huge billboard in one of the back gardens in the Knightstwood area that was used as a target by the periscopes. Of course this daydream was I guess shortlived as they shut down in 1992 and I was unable to attend as an apprentice. The closest I ever got was in a house I bought in Anniesland that was built in the same place as the demolished imposing red building of the factory. 

100% original Barr n’ Stroud

The fly tying boxes made in that factory were quite frankly amazing to my young eyes; people would start arriving with wooden cases which would open up to a whole multitude of drawers and compartments. Sides would slide up to reveal places for tools and feathers and fur were always meticulously labelled. It was amazing!

I tried at school to create my own box in Craft and Design however it was far too bulky, I still have it as it is in my garage however it was never really used for its intended purpose. A few years ago I bought a couple of boxes from Ikea that did the job for a while. 

Now of course, I just keep my gear in a couple of bags with an over-spill plastic container.

Not my actual bag however a promotional picture of one  – this one looks better!

My J Vice is kept in its laptop bag and my materials in an orvis travel bag (see above). I have been planning for quite some time now to obtain an old lockable writing bureau for my living room and I am pretty much constantly scouring 2nd hand shops  for one that is not too big for my living room – I have a plan that if I find one in not that good a nick I can have a wee project to myself but hopefully I will find one that is ready to rumble. I need a lock as quite frankly the kids will play with anything including a £60 cock cape and never mind all the miscellaneous feathers.

Something like this..

Anyway, after seeing the box in Decathlon I had a look online and found some on Amazon…[amazon_link id=”B07BWD1RYN” target=”_blank” ]SODIAL Fishing Tackle Box Portable 4 Layers Fishing Box Sea Boat Fishing Accessory Box Case With Handle Utility Box[/amazon_link] It has everything that someone would want, just check the sizes I guess as they can come small as well.

On the fishing front my season has been a bust – the joys of three children I guess. Hopefully I will get out Sea Fishing with the kids again before everything cools down again. Next season I will be back on the trout – this is the reason why I need to concentrate on flies and storage.

What do you guys use? You can tell me here or on the Facebook page.





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  1. Stuart · September 16, 2018

    Really Useful Boxes do tower units that look ideal for such stuff but you might struggle to pay under £40 . Homebase etc do other units but with deeper drawers (Ooh Matron!!!)

  2. Colin Liddell · September 16, 2018

    Enjoyed your article and whilst I have just this year started to gather my own fly tying equipment and materials I enjoyed the stories of Barr & Stroud and the “homers” being made there. I now live a few hundred yards from original Periscope manufacturing site. My plan is to break into the dark art of fly tying over this coming Winter with the aid of class/club locally and also YouTube and books. Only issue is I will be working away Mon-Fri so class/club attendance may be hard. Upside is Ill have free time in evenings to “learn”. I am unsure as to what or where Decathlon is but do need some form of storage although not the beautiful desk/bureau in your photo. I may look at Amazon type that Stuart in his comment referred to as I need portability. Any way great article and perhaps an old writing desk may be of use where you cannot locate an old fly tying desk cabinet.