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Beginner’s Guide To Fly Tying

The Beginner’s Guide To Fly Tying

Tying flies is a extremely rewarding aspect of fly fishing.  Tying flies is part of the natural progression that fly fishing anglers take on their journey through the sport.  Fly Tying is a great hobby for the cold winter months when fly fishing is not productive and loading the fly boxes for the summer to come is a much needed activity.  Fly Tying also allows for the customization of flies and the constant search for the secret fly that works better than everything else!  Knowing where and how to start tying flies can be difficult.  This will be a guide to walk you through the process and what you will need to start tying flies!

Fly Tying Equipment
There are many fly tying tools and fly tying vises out there.  By no means do you need all of them.  There are a few “core” tools that you will need to start tying flies and those are the ones we will mention.  Below is a quick overview of the basic tools needed to start tying flies.

Fly Tying Tools Overview

  • Fly Tying Vise
  • Fly Tying Bobbin
  • Bobbin Threader
  • Fly Tying Scissors
  • Whip Finisher
  • Hackle Pliers
  • Hair Stacker
  • Fly Tying Materials

Fly Tying Vise
Rotary Fly Tying ViseThe Fly Tying Vise is the most important tool in tying flies.  The Fly Tying Vise is what holds the hook in place while you are tying the fly.  The are two main types of fly tying vises, a rotary vise and a fixed jaw vise.  The rotary vise has a rotating head that will keep the fly in place and on the same place when rotated.  This is a great feature for saltwater flies, streamers, deer hair flies and epoxy flies.  By no means is the rotary function necessary.  Many professional tiers do not choose rotary vises, due to the many moving parts and the tendency for dials to be out of whack.

Fly Tying Bobbin
Griffin Fly Tying BobbinThe next few items you will need are the Fly Tying Tools.  The Fly Tying Tools are the tools that are used to handle the thread and materials needed to tie flies.  The first tool needed is a Fly Tying Bobbin.  The Fly Tying Bobbin will hold the fly tying thread and allow for the thread to be applied to the hook.  There are two main types of fly tying bobbins, ceramic and non-ceramic.  Ceramic Bobbins are more expensive, but well worth the price.  The Ceramic inserts on the tip of the bobbin will protect the fine fly tying thread.  Without the ceramic, the bobbin will develop burrs and grooves in the metal.  This will cause the thread to constantly break during tying, very frustrating!  Plain bobbins are meant for lead wire and brass wire, not fine fly tying threads.

Fly Tying Scissors
Fly Tying ScissorsFly Tying Scissors are the next item on the shopping list.  Fly Tying Scissors are different than other scissors due to the fine tips, compact size, serrated blades and even closing tips.  Fly Tying Scissors are considered very high quality scissors are not to be used to cut wire or metal materials.


Fly Tying Whip Finisher
Fly Tying Whip FinisherThe Whip Finisher is the tool used to tie off the fly.  The Whip Finisher ties a knot, with the thread, onto the head of the fly.  That way the fly does not come unraveled when fly fishing.  The Whip Finisher is not easy to use and takes some time getting used to.  Do not get frustrated trying to learn the whip finishing tool, it will come with time and practice.  In the beginning, try using a couple half hitch knots and use head cement to secure the fly.  Practice the whip finish on a bare hook, so you do not ruin the flies you are tying.

How To Use Whip Finishing Tool Video

Fly Tying Hackle Pliers
Hackle PliersHackle Pliers are an extension of your fingers.  The Hackle Pliers are used to grasp hackle tips, wire and other fly tying materials.  Hackle Pliers are best used on delicate or short pieces of material and aid the fly tyer in wrapping material around the hook.

Fly Tying Hair Stacker
The Fly Tying Hair Stacker is a tool used to even the tips of hair.  This is an important tool, because hair is not naturally even.  If a clump of deer hair is tied in without the hair stacker, it will be uneven and ugly.  A hair stacker is needed to even the fibers on wings and tails of dry flies.

Fly Tying Kits
Fly Tying KitsFly Tying Kits are another great option for a new fly tier.  Fly Tying Kits are prepackaged kits with all the tools and materials needed to start tying basic flies.  Fly Tying Kits are a great choice for a fly tier who does not want to start with expensive tools or fly tying vises.  Fly Tying Kits have the most basic tools, vise and materials.  The materials in the Fly Tying Kits are not customized, meaning they will not tie all flies.  If there are specific flies that you would like to tie, then choosing your own materials and tools is the best way to go.

Tying Beginner Fly Patterns
Knowing what flies to tie first is not easy.  The first fly should not be complicated or small in size.  This will just add to frustration and make learning more difficult.  Start with flies #14 in size or larger and work your way down with time.  Choose flies with 3 or less materials in the beginning and slowly add more as your skills progress.  Below is a list of flies and videos.  The videos are in order from easiest to most difficult.  The materials for these flies are listed below the videos and are linked to out Online Fly Shop.  Tie away and have fun!

We have a huge Fly Tying Video Library on the site.  Feel free to view and browse through all of the Fly Tying Videos!
Fly Tying Videos

San Juan Worm

Pheasant Tail
Woolly Bugger
Clouser Minnow
Peacock Elk Hair Caddis

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