Noel "" Forte, was an avid outdoorsmen who coupled a life-long love of fly fishing with an innate talent for woodworking, the results of which are proudly presented by his descendants at Fort Shockley.

Noel traveled the entirety of the Western United States beginning in the 1930's and continuing well into the 1970's. Self taught in the art of fly tying, he conducted a multitude of classes, created and sold thousands of flies, and crafted the prototype for the Fort Shockley product that bears his name. We feel it embodies all the criteria Noel envisioned: the durability of solid wood, attention to detail, and singular craftsmanship.

 One of the many aspects of Noel's box that intrigued cabinetmaker, and fellow angler, Gregory Shockley, was the fact that Noel was not just storing materials and tools. There was a logical order to this madness that actually conformed into a "fly tying workstation".

"While I realized it would not store, let alone organize, everything that I owned, it would create an easy straight foreword fly tying area that was both convenient and easy to use."



 Noel designed and constructed his workstation as a solution for fly tying on his extended fishing excursions, allowing him to consolidate a generous selection of core materials and tools into a "box" that could then open into a complete tying desk. To suit this task of "matching the hatch" the bench should not require a great deal of time to sort or search through materials while tying.

 "I knew of the existence of "Noel's Box" for decades before actually using it.", Gregory Shockley

"Noel's fly tying box was described to me on numerous occasions by his grandson. But being the skeptical individual that I am, I knew nothing could be that good. It took a good twenty-five years to convince me, even after seeing it regularly, to give it a try."

"I became captivated within fifteen minutes of unlocking the front door."


 Noel's knack for organization is bewildering to those who think about the many facets of his workstation. Each component has a function that is intertwined with the other components to create the whole.

 "I was raised in an era and time when to be a serious fly fisherman, one had to tie the flies he fished." Gregory Shockley

One of the many anglers who planted the seed was my uncle, Jim Baciu. A man who would pursue fish, any species anywhere, but who had a particular affinity for Browns, which I acquired at a very young age. It was instilled in me that to be a true angler, a "complete angler", one had to tie the flies he fished, clean and eat any fish dispatched to the creel, and above all revere the quarry.

An introduction to "selective angling", on one occasion Baciu said, "You can keep anything over 12 inches," which meant any Brown over 12 inches that you choose to keep. I can assure you there were more fish released under and over 12 inches simply because they were the "wrong species."

"Some of these skins have been dead longer than we have been alive." Mike McMullen & Greg Shockley

Noel's complete collection of fly tying materials was as expansive as his tying ability. Contained in more than one hundred, air tight, large movie reel canisters were the typical assortment of every fly tier, mixed in with a variety of materials that have since been "replaced" by the synthetics. Some materials can only be identified by that aging generation of fly angler, and some were components of fly patterns long forgotten.

"The more I started to work with the design in computer generated models, the more intrigued I became." Gregory Shockley

"After five generations in different aspects of the wood industry, I realize perfection is a matter of degrees, and that no human will ever attain it, though I believe it is a goal one must continue to strive for."

"The more I started to work with the design, in computer generated models, the more complex I realized it was. Querying the models from multiple fly tiers' standpoints we found that when we changed or moved differing aspects of Noel's design, we would have to give up other 'required' aspects. Therefore the puzzle would fall apart, causing the design to become unwieldy or awkward for fly tying."