Tips & Tricks

Getting started with fly tying

With the chilly season upon us and COVID instances hovering all around the nation, it’s doubtless we’ll all be spending extra time inside our properties over the subsequent few months. The query is: what do you propose to do with that point? For those who’ve been considering studying to tie your individual flies, you’ve doubtless questioned the place to start. As an teacher for Penn State College’s Angling Program, considered one of my jobs is introducing fly tying methods, instruments and supplies to college students every semester. Whereas instructing, I compiled this brief record of ideas that I hope will assist get you began.

Fly Tying Economics

It’s essential to say proper out of the gate that it’s extremely unlikely that tying flies will prevent cash. The truth is, I’ll go on the report and say that you just’ll doubtless spend extra money tying your individual flies than you’d for those who bought them. For a lot of, fly tying rapidly turns into an dependancy. Whether or not one finds themselves looking for new supplies whereas watching a video on how one can tie the newest “scorching” sample on YouTube, or obsessive about experimenting and designing new patterns, it’s virtually assured that you just’ll find yourself spending extra to tie your individual flies.

However guess what? There’s a lengthy record of causes to tie flies outdoors of saving cash—there’s one thing undeniably particular about catching fish on flies you’ve tied; it’s an satisfying, artistic exercise that retains you related to the game whenever you’re not in a position to fish; and it’s a wonderful method to find out about entomology.

Important Fly Tying Instruments

Premium high quality instruments should not important for tying flies, however high quality instruments last more and are typically extra consumer pleasant. The excellent news is, lately you may get a fly tying starter equipment with high quality instruments for lower than $150, just like the Orvis Premium Fly Tying kit pictured above. In comparison with any variety of different hobbies, you don’t have to interrupt the financial institution when to buy high quality fly tying instruments and supplies.

A high quality equipment ought to embody the next instruments: a vise, bobbin, bobbin threader, scissors, hackle pliers, bodkin, and ending knot software. In time, you’ll add or subtract from this record of core instruments based mostly in your wants and preferences.

Relating to fly tying vises—you’ll wish to spend a little bit of time contemplating whether or not a pedestal or clamp base is finest in your tying space. Clamps are sturdy and restrict wobble whereas tying. However, you’ll want a skinny sufficient desk base to safe the vise and also you doubtless gained’t wish to clamp a vise onto your stunning eating room desk. Pedestal bases may be positioned on any flat floor and are straightforward to journey with, however should not as sturdy as a clamp-based mannequin. Perform some research, take into consideration the place you’ll tie flies, and determine which setup is finest.

While you’re in a position to, it’s at all times good to get first-hand expertise with instruments before you purchase. Don’t hesitate to achieve out to your native fly store to see what choices they’ve accessible at their location. Even with the continuing pandemic, ask for a digital demonstration by way of Zoom, FaceTime or comparable from the comforts of your private home. store will fortunately present this service and can have workers members who’re properly versed in all of the instruments they carry. In areas the place in-person purchasing is obtainable and protected, you may head into the shop, as most fly retailers can have samples of every software you can bodily contact and apply with. As is true of most instruments, choices abound. For instance, some tiers choose full rotary tying vises whereas others choose mounted jaw. It’s possible you’ll not know or perceive what both “full rotary” or “mounted jaw” means now, however you’ll after talking together with your native store.


It could sound simpler to purchase a tying equipment that incorporates each instruments and supplies, however proceed with warning. Most “all-in-one” kits are likely to comprise poor high quality supplies, and should stick you with supplies that aren’t applicable for tying flies you want on your private home waters. There are a couple of exceptions to the rule—just like the aforementioned Orvis kit—however except you’re sure of the standard, it’s finest to steer clear.

As a substitute, begin easy and name your native store or a store close to the place you propose to fish. Clarify to them you’re a newbie fly tier that’s concerned with procuring some starter supplies and would really like their recommendation on 3-6 patterns to start out with. You’ll get high quality merchandise geared in the direction of tying confirmed patterns for the waters you propose to fish.

To maintain your materials record easy and economical, ask the store to maintain the hook dimension and thread diameter/shade the identical for all of the patterns they suggest. This manner you’re not shopping for six totally different packs of hooks and 6 totally different diameters/colours of thread for these 6 patterns. The primary 3 patterns my Penn State college students tie are all on a dimension #12 hook with 6/0 black thread. The inexperienced weenie, Walt’s worm, and hare’s ear nymph are the primary three nymphs patterns we tie and the retail value for the supplies wanted to tie roughly 50 flies (a combo of the three patterns, not 50 of every) is lower than $30. Maintain it easy at first. Deal with creating good method after which you may start experimenting with different patterns and supplies.

What to tie

Begin with bigger patterns. Dexterity and good tying method is a ability developed over time. The largest mistake I made with my first tying class was having learners tie small patterns. This led to frustration which then led to a poor studying expertise. Now, we begin tying with bigger patterns like a #10 or #12, then finally work our approach all the way down to smaller patterns like an #18. Develop good dexterity and method first, and also you’ll work your method to smaller patterns with much less frustration.

What else?

Right here’s one final tip—purchase razor blades to strip your undesirable flies of supplies and save the hooks. Chances are high, your first tying makes an attempt is not going to yield masterpieces. Use a razor blade to strip the hook of all supplies and begin from scratch till you might have a completed product you’re happy with. You’ll see enhancements together with your tying expertise after a number of weeks and can doubtless wish to discard your first makes an attempt, so use a razor blade to reuse the hooks of any undesirable patterns. I additionally hold a small plastic container in my fishing pack to put patterns which are properly used or falling aside. I then take this “recycling” bin again dwelling and use a razor blade to strip the hook for use one other day.

Even for those who’re not a hardcore fly fisher, tying flies is therapeutic, stress-free and is a enjoyable method to spend time inside. And for those who determine fly tying isn’t for you (after buying important instruments and supplies) there are a lot of nice organizations to donate your tying instruments and supplies to. Teams serving youth applications, people coping with most cancers, and numerous veteran organizations are at all times searching for donations to allow them to higher serve these in want.

Oh, and for those who’re ready, please help your native fly store as you begin your fly tying adventures. Comfortable tying and pleased holidays!

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