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Fly tying
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Michael Baker

Locale: Minnesota
Fly tying on 01/15/2010 23:25:03 MST Print View

I am curious if anyone here ties there own flies? I picked up a nice vise to start doing this. I'm finding it to be tricky but I am persistent so I know I will figure it out eventually. If anyone does this I would love to hear any advice or tips you have for a beginner.

Julian Watson
(JulesWatson) - F
fly tying on 01/16/2010 00:09:17 MST Print View

Yes, I tie. It's a nice diversion and very satisfying to catch fish on your own flies. I'm pretty average though. My suggestions are to practice lots, and tie in sets of 12 to really get grounded in a pattern.

I think I read in an article that Ryan used to tie commercially ?

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Fly tying on 01/16/2010 00:33:38 MST Print View

I haven't purchased a fly in years- I tie all my own.
The best advice I can give is- go to the public library and read all the books you can. Pick one and use it as a guide, then another and so on. Be careful about buying every piece of materials the a recipe calls for- you will spend a lot of money and have stuff that you will only use for one fly- you can alway substitute materials. Start with the flies you use the most and get proficient at tying them, then you can branch out.
Join a local fly fishing club, they usually have a fly tying class (free) as part of the club and these are invaluable for hands on guidance.
I'd start with a "Gold ribbed Hares ear", it is easy to tie and gets you results on the river (or lake).
Good luck.

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/18/2010 10:41:06 MST.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
I love it! on 01/16/2010 09:12:22 MST Print View

I've been tying for years, and it's a great hobby, especially in the off season, when fishing isn't really available and hiking is cold and miserable! Fly tying is my winter sport!

If you have the chance, learn from someone who is already an expert - but I learned most everything from an old book called "Fly Tying" (how appropriate!) by Helen Shaw. It's just full-page, step-by-step black-and -white photos of each technique. It's still available through Amazon. Very good book for learning the basics - for instance, I've never used a whip-finisher cuz I learned early how to whip-finish by hand from Shaw's book. Note that Shaw's book does not teach any actual fly patterns.

The modern equivalent to Helen Shaw's book is "The Benchside Introduction to Fly Tying" by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer. Color photos!!! Most of the book's pages are cut into two - the upper pages show how to tie different fly patterns, while the bottom pages show the techniques (which are referred to in the top pages). A bit confusing at first, but very useful once you get the hang of how L and S have organized the book.

Best of luck! It's a real blast to catch fish on your own flies!

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
tie one on! on 01/18/2010 10:26:57 MST Print View

I've been tying my own flies since I was a teenager, and its the best way to go. Nice way to spend winter evenings, and much more cost effective. There are tons of books to check out, and there are many "recipes" online for any pattern you can think of. Probably some Utube lessons as well. For sure search there too.
With regards to the actual tying, my .02$ worth is twofold; 1- always tie in batches of 6-12, "production" style, meaning, lay out all your parts and pieces for the whole batch, and then tie all the way thru your "run". This gives you a fly or two to get in a rythm, and it gives you the best chance at the next item wich is "proportions". Nothing is more important in having a fly float, and represent properly than proportion. Read up and practice keeping proportions on the fly correct, and your flies will perform well. By tying a run, you get a feel of proportion, and your first couple will be "off", and then as you get in your groove, they will come about and be awesome! Have fun learning, cuz they will probably all catch fish! Nothing better than catching them on your own stuff!

Colin Dunlap
(ColinDunlap) - F
Fly tying on 01/29/2010 06:55:38 MST Print View

I agree. Tying flies is a great way to spend a few hours relaxing.

Mark Andersen
(MarkA) - F
Re: Fly tying on 04/16/2010 11:57:43 MDT Print View

I know this is an old thread, but thought I would reply with what I think are the two most useful tips I had in learning to tie, as they might be useful to anyone else who digs up this thread later:

1) Use the lightest thread you can--the 70d stuff is what I use. Before you start tying flies, start some thread on the hook, and start wrapping tighter and tighter until the thread breaks. Do this a number of times, and you'll develop a feel for how much thread tension to use. Almost all of my early problems were with not getting things tight enough, or with breaking thread halfway through a fly. The lighter the thread you use, the better, and ironically, the more durable, the resulting flies, because you can get more wraps in.

2) Always tie at least 5-6 of a particular fly at a sitting. After you tie each one, compare it to the picture, see what looks right or wrong about it, and adapt. AK Best (a famous tier) famously once said that he doesn't feel like he really knows how to tie a pattern until he's tied 100 dozen of them. That is probably hyperbole, but I usually don't feel like I've hit my stride with a pattern and producing a good fly until the 4th or 5th one I've tied in a sitting. Usually, the first 2-4 look pretty bad and not very durable. If you're tying multiple sizes, start with the largest ones, tie a half dozen, then work your way down in size. It's also a good idea to start with easy things (woolly buggers, herl nymphs, etc) until you get your skills honed.

One other thing--I highly recommend the book "Essential Trout Flies" by Dave Hughes. There isn't much how-to, but it has every pattern you really need.

Edited by MarkA on 04/16/2010 11:58:28 MDT.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Fly tying on 04/16/2010 14:32:28 MDT Print View

Then if you get really bored, you can try tying a fly like this:

Art Fly


Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Fly tying on 04/16/2010 14:44:33 MDT Print View

Sid, great looking fly- I'd be afraid to use it...
Looks like someone has too much time on his hands.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Re: Re: Fly tying on 04/16/2010 16:50:36 MDT Print View

I didn't make that fly. I wish I had that kind of skill. That is a fly made by Caleb Boyle. These type of flies are called "Art Flies". They are intended for show. I'm sure anybody that puts that much effort into a fly like that would not want to risk losing it by using it to fish with. You can check out a bunch more on his website. He has some really cool ones on there.


Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Fly tying on 04/16/2010 19:06:24 MDT Print View

Fly tying is a great hobby and provides an extra measure of satisfaction when a fish is fooled by ones own fly. I'm not that good at it, especially the smallest flies, but then I hope the fish can't see any better that I can.

Tie the same fly over and over in one sitting to get the "bugs" out. I always tie fly at least 10 times, in the largest size, then 10 more, one size smaller and so forth. I will generally tie 30 flies in one sitting, in 3 different sizes. I won't have to come back to that pattern for some time.

I know many of the above posts have offered this same advise, but that simply shows how important it is for success.

I use a Griffin Odyssey Spider vise on a pedestal base. I also purchased the parachute attachment which makes up for my lack of coordination with those type flies. It is a very reasonably priced, rotary vice that I am very happy with.

I started with a very elementary book, "Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple" by Skip Morris, which is well suited to the rank beginner. But soon, you will need to graduate to more complete books. I picked up the Orvis "Fly Tying Guide" by Tom Rossenbauer, on sale, which is beautifully published.

For connecting the manual skill of fly tying to real world hatches, I cannot recommend highly enough, "Handbook of Hatches" by Dave Hughes. Useful no matter where you live. Hopefully, you can find a local guide to fly tying: for New England, I have found a jewel, "Hatch Guide for New England Streams" by Thomas Ames, Jr.

Mireille Halley
(tinyscrafts) - F - MLife

Locale: So Cal
I have feathers on 04/22/2010 22:50:09 MDT Print View

I hear that you fly tie-er's like chicken feathers... I have some chickens, Barred rock and an easter egger. I think those are some of the desirable feathers but I don't know much about them. Which ones? Hackle feathers?

Dan Stanko
(Dinsdale) - F

Locale: Loozerville,USA
Home grown feathers on 04/23/2010 07:25:00 MDT Print View

Although Barred Rocks are desirable,home grown feathers quality makes only usable;in most cases;for streamer or bass/pike flies.

Commercial capes and saddles are bred for the qualities desired in fly hackle.

The barb count,and the web (the fuzzy part towards the base of the individual feather) are usually poor in yard birds.Not enough barbs;too much web.

That said,I do use capes from my yard birds for bass and soft hackles to wrap wolly buggers and such.You can save capes and saddles by rubbing them with Boraxo type soaps;rubbing this into the skin while they dry.You need to scrape as much grease off the bird as you can,several times as you recoat with fresh borax.

I like to tie with my own materials,just adds another dimension to tying.I have some patterns done with Kudu,Impala,Whitetail,etc...all from my own skins.

Edited by Dinsdale on 04/23/2010 07:27:50 MDT.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Fly Tying on 05/22/2010 10:26:03 MDT Print View

I have tied for about 20 years and still love it. To me, it adds another dimension to the sport. One thing I haven't done much of is tying in the field. I've been thinking about how to put together a UL fly tying kit and seeing how practical it is. I just think it would be cool to whip out a tying kit on the stream, tie a fly on the banks, and catch a fish with it.

Anthony Alpert
(goby99) - F

Locale: Trinity Alps
Book on 06/14/2010 17:45:15 MDT Print View

I have two other suggestions for books.

Anything in color (NOT Black & White) by Randall Kaufmann.
And "Trout Flies" by Dave Hughes. Both are amazing.

Tying flies taught me that fishing technique is much more important than the flies. I usually tie just three mayflies.... Parachute Adams, Parachute Olive (for BWO), and Parachute Sulphur, for my home river, the Trinity River in No. Cal.

scott Allman
( - F

Locale: Pennsylvania
fly tying on 06/18/2010 14:57:44 MDT Print View

Fly tying is very special to me and it is very strong component of fly fishing.
I too would like to create an ultra light stream-side tying kit. I have one in the works now and am shooting for it to be less than 2.0 oz total.
This will have me creating from the ground up: vice, bobbins and just about everything. Hope to post something soon.

Edited by on 06/18/2010 14:59:48 MDT.