I can’t tell you how many times I read, or was told, that one of the most important things on your fly tying desk is - a quality light.
Over and over people talked about lights and lamps, and how much they helped. However, I had two issues with this proposition. 1) I’m not as old as everyone that always told me how important they are. I figured I had quite a few more years before I really needed a light, and 2) I’m cheap. I would rather save for a new vise, than spend a few bucks on a lamp that I never even touch. Which one would really be more impactful on my tying?
I was stupid.
After hearing all these people talk about how vital good lighting is to fly tying I decided I would give in and try out the idea. On a quick clearance trip through Target with my wife, there sat a lamp with a hefty clearance. Was it love at first sight? No. It was just a dorm room looking, gold colored, LED lamp that semi suites my style. What it didn't have in cosmetics or quality it had in price.
I bought it, brought it home, and plugged it in about a foot above my vise. Incredibly, a bright, new landscape laid out in front of my young eyes.
I could see individual fibers of pheasant tail, rabbit dubbing came to life and breathed, and every thread wrap was incredibly clear and highly visible.
I never thought an 8 dollar purchase could revolutionize my fly tying the way a bright lamp did. I have been tying under this little lamp for almost two years now and I can’t tie without it. Anytime he's off I feel like I am back in the shadows of a former life. Even when I travel, and set up in front of a window as big as my current fly tying room I still bring my trusty little lamp with me. He’s my good friend now. He and I have seen a few thousand flies together, and I wouldn’t feel right tying without him watching overhead.
I provide this example to say, if you don’t have a lamp in your tying room, get one.
Don’t tie another fly until you make it happen. Go to your grandma’s house, to a consignment shop, or to a big name store (if you've oodles of money), and get a nice lamp. Make sure it extends over your vise in a way that won’t block your hands or take up too much room on your desk, and enjoy the views.
There is no price tag on clarity when it comes to tying. The more you can see the better you can tie.