Fly Tying Hints and Tricks


As I write this, the outside temperature is minus -25º. What better time to look at the other half of fly fishing which is fly tying. This is not a ‘How To’ more like a ‘you find your self tying and you can use a few tips’. Hopefully there will be something for the novice as well and the experienced tier.


·                   Find your self a permanent (or at least permanent during your tying season) place. This makes tying just one or two flies just a matter tying and not a matter of clearing an area then setting up and then tearing it down.

·                   If you have a permanent or seasonal tying area a lint roller can save you and yours aggravation. A quick once over with the roller can rid you of a lot of mess and won’t blow your other materials around like you would with a vacuum.

·                   Hang a plastic bag below your vise to catch all your cut offs.

·                   Make sure you can see what you are doing. This means good light but it also means you need to be able to see detail in focus. If you have need help in this department you can remedy this in a number of ways from some cheapie dollar store ‘reading’ glasses all the way to a swing arm magnifier lamp.

·                   Tie at least one fly a day. Over the winter that is at least 150 flies.

·                    If you like to use many different thread colours you should keep the most popular ones in their own bobbin.

·                   Remember that bobbins are also great for floss, gold wire or anything on a spool

·                   Speaking of wire, got an old lamp? Well just take the cord and strip away the plastic coating and you have more copper wire than you can use in a lifetime. Me, I have an endless supply of worthless electric guitar cables and strings.

·                   On the topic of recycling; the tinsel from the Christmas tree is awesome flash material. Grandma’s old fur coat is a dubbing source just waiting to happen. Me I use old classical guitar strings as nymph bodies and ribbing. You can also get a variety of fur (and some exotic stuff) from your local taxidermist. Only your imagination can limit you here.

·                   The craft store and the craft section of any dept store is a great place to find tying materials; foam, beads, feathers etc. Again a place for your imagination to run a little wild.

·                   Plan your fly out. Two common problems are; too much bulk at the tie in point and not enough room at the head.

·                   Where are you going to fish this fly? Remember to choose material based on conditions. Examples: Slow or still water one might use marabou as a material as it moves very easily whereas in fast moving water one might want a stiffer material. Murky or muddy water may require more visibility.

·                   If you tie the same pattern in weighted and un-weighted versions, use a different colour thread for one so you can tell at a glance which is which.

·                   Consult fly catalogues and hatch charts to determine the size range for the flies you are tying.

·                   Get a look at the real thing either pictures or real life. Tying a pattern will take on a whole new dimension if you are trying to copy a bug or minnow and not just a pattern recipe.

·                   What is the most used fly tying tool? Your scissors so keep them handy

·                   Many instructions ask you to precut a section of material. This is wasteful (though easier to manage) so learn to deal with the material as it is. You will save time and money.

·                   You can water proof your dry flies at home. Dipping them in a ‘water sealer’ or spraying them with a ‘water guard’ will give you high floating flies with out adding floatant.

·                   Chenille is for more than wooly buggers. This stuff is easy to wrap, is durable and comes in uncountable colours. I have found it does not make good dry fly bodies however.

·                   If there aren’t enough colours of chenille for you why not try weaving two colours together or taking a permanent marker and marking sections of some chenille? Both will make variegated chenille bodies for you

·                   Looking for some new pike flies? Many of our most popular pike streamers are adapted from salt water flies. Check out what salt fly fishers are doing.

·                   Flies looking a little tired after sitting in the box for a year? With your forceps hold them over a boiling steam kettle.

·                   Learn a new tying technique. Whether it is moving from finishing your flies with half hitches to whip finishing, wing burning, deer hair spinning or dubbing loops pick up a new twist.

·                   If there is a fly that you use a lot of and tie a lot of but don’t want to carry all of them around then store the balance at home.


Tips like these and many others can be found at our web site


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