Got Time on your hands? A Simple Solution to organize and File Fly Samples

Best most practical method for storing fly samples.
As a fly tyer and fly fisher, I have accumulated a fair number of fly samples. These range from giant beasties to very little midge no-see-ems and many have been helpful when I have wanted to go back and remember what flies I was fishing five or ten or twenty or thirty ears ago.

Sadly, I do not have any of the flies I tied and fished, forty, and fifty years ago, because there was a time-out in my fly tying and fishing career. Oh well.

Here’s how simple it can be to keep a collection of your fly samples for future reference.



First, I purchase a few hundred paper CD cases, the type that have a clear window. The clear window is crucial to be able to see the fly or flies.

From this point on, you have two options.
1. You can cut card stock to insert into the CD case. On this card stock, you might store the fly in a small plastic bag, available in Pharmacies for carrying medication. This little bag can now be taped to the card stock in the center of the area open to the transparent cellophane window. You can also add notes about the fly’s originator, where and when it was fished and so forth.;
2. on the other hand, and this is whatI do when I am pressed for time, which is most of the time, is to throw the fly or flies into the CD envelope, make a few notes on the outside of the envelope, and call it good enough.

After stuffing many hundreds or only a few dozen flies you want to save, you can proceed to throw them in a drawer, stuff them in a cardboard box, or – as I do – file them neatly in a Stackable CD Storage Case.


Photo Caption. This CD case is stackable and the side drops down for ease in loading, finding flies, and retrieving samples. These case are sturdy and well-built, well worth thee nearly 30 buck price.

The Photo above shows how the low side will fold down to ease access to the envelopes. The lower photo shows how these storage cases stack nicely.



The photo above is a cardboard box specifically designed to hold paper CD storage envelopes. These are nice because they have a lid to keep dust out, they stack quite well, but they do not hole nearly as many envelopes as the longer (but more expensive) boxes do.

After showing these images of alternate ways to organize your paper CD envelopes preserving your fly collection, I will show examples of several flies in the pile of fly trivia. 

IMG_3773Yes. Barrett Christensen gave me these flies when we fished side by side on the Sixes in 2004.


This is the fly that ‘Bob Borden hooked – and lost – a chinook on while fishing the Elk River Estuary standing right beside me in november 2011. No bull.


This here glorious hand full of flies was given me by my dear friend Stan Davis when I was writing Oregon Chinook Flies in 2015. Some of the finest most original patterns ever.


Now this is a rare one. Al Brunell, dear friend and retired OSP trooper, tied this fly in 2005, not long before he passed. This is a beautiful purple Comet, in a style I’ve NEVER seen. Tungsten glue-on eyes. Trey Combs #2 Blue Water Hook.Dyed Pheasant Tippett  for the short cocked-up tail.  We all miss Al.


This here gem of a fly is a comet tied by Don Bergstrom – fished at Clay Banks . Don gave me this fly 2003 while we sat on the gravel bar at about 11 AM below Cannery Riffle on the Rogue River. Don’s advice to me regarding fly fishing for chinook was the most instrumental and probably tipped the sales — allowing me to catch my very first fly -rod king salmon one day after we met.


Coho Poppers I tied to fish in Tillamook Bay.  These samples have coho teeth scars.


These are Jad Donaldson Albacore Flies. These flies are difficult to engineer, but they do work, oh yes they do.

I hope this post gives you some ideas and motivation to develop your own way of saving precious fragments of fly fishing and fly tying history.

Meanwhile, blog readers and friends, let’s stay smart, healthy,  and sassy.

Covid-19 is changing our world, and it’s up to each of us to conduct ourselves in ways that build a better future for out community, and. that includes the community of anglers.

Jay Nicholas, 28 March 2020

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