The Quest, Part II: Subversion & Solutions

Long hours of quiet meditation. Days of ingesting inordinate quantities of super-curry. With-holding toilet use for three days. There are many things we can do to try to change ourselves. I tried to change, I tried to be a Tuesday-night-tier. I tried to set targets and to stick to them. Ten muddler heads a week, how hard can it really be? Sadly, it just doesn’t work.


I’ve since come to accept that my erratic fly tying behaviour is probably a reflection of something rather unchangeable and hard-wired into my brain. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘personality’, and it ain’t half an arse at times. My newfound zen-like self acceptance means that some kind of permanent solution has had to be found for the issue of fly tying gear transportation. The Stand of Majesty just wasn’t going to cut it on the road, not with all those bobbin antennae. What was needed was a way to transport everything I could possibly need for any possible situation. Fluff, feathers, bobbins, the whole shebang. The system needed to be hardwearing, reliable, small and most importantly, easily transportable. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you… the Far-reaching And Ridiculously Tenacious fly tying System (FARTS to you and I).



This system is the product of literally months of obsessing. Multiple trips to Ikea, Homebase and B&Q. Endless forays through the long, cold isles of fishing tackle shops. Covert missions into the very heart of the haberdashery industry. The list goes on, folks. Let me take you on an exclusive tour of FARTS.

The Cube of Domination

coc_partially_closed.jpgFirst we have the soul of the system: the Cube of Domination. I came across this little gem last month whilst trawling through the bowels of Edinburgh’s Ikea. To the untrained eye it appears to be a dodgy cardboard box with a handle on top. Turn the Knobs of Golden Revelation, however, and a world of fly tying glory is gradually revealed: the Cube of Domination is magically transformed intococ_partially_closed2.jpgthe Bastion of Undying Majesty. Spread before our disbelieving eyes is an intricate system of interconnecting boxes, each carefully labeled and each containing a fine assortment of fly tying goodies. This is a veritable mansion for the important tools and smaller materials needed for fly construction. Thread bobbins, deer hair, poly yarn, CDC. Pretty much every thing smaller than bird wings has its place. The best bit of all, of course, is that in less than 10 seconds the whole unit can be folded back together, and the glory of the Bastion is once again replaced by the subtle tones and intriguing portability of the Cube.

The Folders of Beautycoc_big_folder_closed.jpg

The second key element of FARTS are the Folders of Beauty. These are a fine bit of fly tying organisation, inspired by a wee article I read in last months Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine. The basic idea is that all capes, bird wings and long feathers are stored in zip-up bags. These can be arranged and inserted into a large A3 size ring binder. A neat little trick is to run thick duct-tape up the spine of the bags, and then punch holes in the tape. This preserves the bags which helps to keep the fluffy contents safe from naughty beasts.


With this basic idea in mind, there’s nothing to stop all manner of fly tying paraphernalia from being stored this way. In fact, that’s exactly what I’ve done. The Folders of Beauty have now spawned a sibling, and they’re coc_big_folder_feathers1.jpgcalled the Folders of Wee Beauty. They are quick, pretty cheap, and immediately portable. Together with careful labeling of the bags, it would take a foolish fellow to loose any more partridge feathers.




Boxes of Sublime Reason


The third and last component of FARTS are the Boxes of Sublime Reason. Here is where hooks and dubbing materials live. These humble bedfellows have been painstakingly arranged into individual compartments of a number of John Lewis’ finest haberdashery boxes. The joy of labeling all the compartments was truly something to behold. Most of the compartments were split into two separate sections with the help of super-glue and bits of foam. The objective, as per the mission statement, was to reduce the footprint of every component of FARTS to enhance sanity and portability. So, there are three dubbing boxes and a single hook box. The dubbings have been arranged carefully, of course, so that depending on the time of the year only one or two need to be brought along. There’s a box for all hare’s fur and seal’s fur, a box for gaudy grayling mixes, and a wee box of miscellaneous colours. Top banana.


The whole setup can now be tidied away into the corner of my desk. Despite what you and I know, it hardly even looks like the insane creation of an obsessive, yet failed, fly tier. And of course, it’s always ready to be chucked in a bag and humphed into the boot of my car. I’ve been practicing tying flies when my vice is attached to my steering wheel, and with a wee bit of practice it’s surprisingly easy to whip things up. It should be emphasised at his juncture that such practices should not be undertaken whilst the car possesses non-zero kinetic energy.


The Quest: Final Thoughts

My quest has taught me a lot. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the inner workings of Ikea’s desk storage department. I know more than I ever thought possible about the haberdashery industry, and let me assure you, some of the things I know would frighten the socks off yeez. I’d like to say I learned a lot about myself, but in reality I’ve probably just learnt that my obsessive streak can lead to interesting things. An A4 filofax full of dead rabbit, for example.

Best of all, I’ve got a really neat fly tying system that is surely, and I really mean it this time, organised enough for me to actually produce some flies this winter. There are simply no more excuses. Apart from that beautiful 3 weight I saw last week…


  1. Alistair’s avatar

    Awesome – absolutely awesome!

  2. Steve’s avatar

    You may just have saved me drowning under a pile of tying materials!

    I know exactly what you mean on tying fly stock though, it’s hard to be disciplined! Then when I think I have enough they either get nicked by trees, trout or clients and it’s back to square one!

  3. pacres’s avatar

    Wonderful Post. I love searching Ikea for storage.

  4. jim’s avatar

    Hmmm, think I will take the scary one out shopping this yule,
    John lewis, Ikea, who knows? good post.

  5. cameron’s avatar

    any idea what they call the “cube of domination” at ikea?

  6. mike’s avatar

    Thanks for the comments folks, and for dropping by.

    I found the cube just inside the entrance to the ‘warehouse’ section of Ikea. And for the life of me I can’t remember the name.. sorry 🙁

  7. Alex’s avatar

    Great stuff, Mike. Trips to Ikea will never be the same again thanks to you and your cube of domination.


  8. Gentleman Jim’s avatar

    Mike, this is a work of staggering genius.

    Where can a chap get his hands on a Cube of Domination..?
    (I’ve already ransacked an IKEA catalogue, but to no avail)

    Thousands of frustrated anglers currenlty armpit deep in small packets of fluff boxes of this-and-that, wait with bated breath.


  9. Smithhammer’s avatar

    169% brilliance, right down to the acronym. A toast is in order!

  10. Tony’s avatar

    How’s the tying going? Must say, I have not really got going and the new trout season is only 2 months away!
    Happy New Year to you!

  11. opax’s avatar

    Absolutely Incredible Mike!
    Have you been tying a lot now when your organizational system has reached the perfection?

  12. mike’s avatar

    hi olli, nice to see you again. I’ve been away over Christmas and new year, but I’m making a list now of flies for the new season. Streamers and dries are the most needed. I’m also thinking a lot about very simple spider patterns again. How’s your preparations going?

  13. opax’s avatar

    I’ve been a bit lazy. I have a list but my progress is slow. But there is still time…

  14. mike’s avatar

    Ok then, for anyone who’s still interested, the box is called the ‘Grossby’. My pal was down Ikea the other day and said they still had them in. However, no sign of it on their website.

    Nice to see some other folks have found a use for it too:

    Good luck!

  15. Phil’s avatar

    Hi Mike

    I love the site and FARTS merits a Nobel!

    Here in Birmingham the Wednesbury IKEA denies all knowledge – and so does the Edinburgh branch when phoned.

    What shall I do? I must have the Cube! This way madness lies.

    As the Master (John Gierach) writes, “this may be one of those winters when all the flies actually get tied.” But I’m stymied by lust for the Cube, which was the talk of Solihull Fly Dressers last Monday night.

    Looks like I’ll have to try to make one – something else to get in the way of actually tying flies.

    Tight lines


  16. mike’s avatar

    Hi Phil,

    thanks a lot for dropping by and making a comment. I don’t know why Ikea are talking like that… My pal personally SAW the Grossby boxes in the Edinburgh Ikea last week, somewhere just as you go into the ‘warehouse’ bit. Keep trying!!

  17. Alistair’s avatar

    Hey Phil – where do you manage to do a spot of fly fishing in Birmingham?

  18. Phil’s avatar

    Hello Alistair

    The SFD club to which I referred has two stocked lakes with rainbows and browns at Great Alne in Warwickshire, plus a stretch of the River Alne (chub like a fly) and a stretch of Pettiford Brook nearby with wild browns: all about 30 minutes drive from where I live in south Brum. And we make trips to the Dee and the Wye.

    Reports of salmon in Gas Street Basin always seem to coincide with chucking-out time and are rarely confirmed.


  19. Alistair’s avatar

    Sounds great Phil – any chance of a day ticket on the Pettiford Brook – I travel to Brum now and again to visit family and maybe the odd time it would be nice to wet a line for a few hours !


  20. Sheena’s avatar

    Hi , yes SFD were all ears and have been looking at your site. I have even sent it to a few of my friends too. Who. ELFA.
    Keep up the good blog its a hoot. Can someone find the product number of the cube of domination then we can all order it. If you are in Birmingham South all you have to do is e-mail & you might have a date.
    I have some nice wrapping paper with wet flies on it that would cover it a treet.

  21. Phil’s avatar

    Sorry for the delay Alistair – I had to ask the question and it appears we don’t do day tickets for the brook.


  22. mike’s avatar

    As a bit of an epilogue to this saga, I was in Ikea yesterday, and I tried to get to the bottom of this thing. It turns out the ‘Grossby 10 compartment storage box’ was a ‘seasonal’ item, which Ikea only get in occasionally as a kind of ‘tester’. I asked if they were getting more in, and the chap said ‘probably not…’ This doesn’t mean the end, of course, it just means we must look ever harder in our quest for more Cubes. The same chap said to me that if there were any around, they’d be in Area C of the warehouse part, or in ‘Home and Storage’ in the Market Floor part.

    Good luck!

  23. billy the gillie’s avatar

    brill idea,now where is that last partridge feather.TOP DRAWER MIKE.

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