View Full Version : Newbie with materials questions

06-13-2009, 08:42 AM
Hi folks-

New fly tyer here, but a long-time "lurker" on these boards.

About a month ago I ordered an old Thompson Model A off eBay and enough materials to tie up some black/red zebra midges. A few days later, the first fish to take one of my creations was a fat 15" brown from the Caney Fork. I must admit...it was pretty cool.

So the other day I ordered some more materials to attempt some Parachute Adams, Neversink Caddis, and possibly an orange variation to the Neversink. Unfortunately, I'm about an hour drive from the nearest shop that carries materials (Cumberland Transit), so I'm ordering from Cabelas. This is kinda tough since I don't know exactly what I'm looking for and it's not always easy to tell what you're buying based on the pictures. From my latest purchase, I have a few questions:

1. I got natural-colored elk hock hair for the wing on the Neversink. It's way darker than I expected, could probably best be described as "chocolate brown". Is the bleached color the best option for the wing? Or do you even have to get elk hair...would some color of deer hair suffice?

2. I got the Whiting 100-packs in brown and grizzly for the hackle. This is great for the wing on the PA, but I don't think the feathers are quite long enough for the tail of the PA. Can I substitute the dark elk hair for the PA tail? Seems like I've read of people using moose hair for this.

3. Is the orange variation of the Neversink even a good idea for the Fall? I thought I had read of LRO carrying something similar. The dark elk hair I have is even darker than the hair on some Orange Stimulators, so what color of deer or elk hair would I need for the wing of an orange Neversink?

4. One final question...how do you estimate the length of the piece of hackle to cut, is it just experience? I've been cutting about 1.5 - 2 inch pieces, and am having a hard time neatly trimming and tying off the excess hackle after it's wrapped.

I could fill a whole page with questions, but these are the main bumps I've hit so far. I've tied 3 or 4 PA's, and while I have a lot of room for improvement, they're all recognizable and I seem to be making progress on each one. Besides the hackle question, making a tight dubbed body is my next biggest problem. I also tried an orange Neversink that turned out pretty ugly...I'd really like to get these down pat, as the yellow Neversink is my favorite Summer Smokies fly.

Anyway, sorry for all the questions, but thanks in advance for your advice.


06-13-2009, 11:52 AM
VF, Some good questions and I'll attempt to answer a few. But first, if you are going to buy materials and are not exactly sure what you want. I recommend you call Daniel at LRO (after all they do sponsor this board). He can help you find what you need and they even ship for free!

- Most of the time I that I tie anything that calls for elk hair I use bleached deer hair. It has a finer texture, doesn't flare too much and I can see it on the water. Other people have different opinions, but elk hair has a lot of bulk.

- Whiting 100s are for hackle wraps and nothing else. You can use lots of other materials for tails (fibbets, elk hair, deer hair, moose mane, etc).

- An Orange Neversink (or the Doc's Cork (http://www.orvis.com/intro.aspx?subject=3212&bhcp=1) variation) is a great fall fly. Use bleached elk or deer to keep it visible.

- The last question is a bit of a puzzle and I hope I'm wrong about what you are doing, but it sounds like your a cutting a section of the whiting 100 for each fly. Do this instead: Tie in the whole feather (even if its 6" long). Wrap it as needed, tie it down and trim it at the tie in point. You wind up with very little waste. You should get 5-10 flies from a single hackle feather in the 100s, but don't precut them to length...

- For dubbing the best bodies you have to get the dubbing to wrap onto the thread. A couple of pointers: 1) use less dubbing material than you think you need (you can always add more and wrap tighter turns or go back over a section you have dubbed), 2) if you are not using dubbing wax on the thread, lightly lick the tip of your index finger and thumb before you spin the dubbing onto the thread and 3) spin the dubbing in one direction (not back and forth). A good way to practice is to clamp a hook in your vise, tie in your thread and just dub a body onto the hook. Then unwrap the the body, pull off the dubbing and dub another one. keep doing this until you get a feel for the materials.

Here are some good sites that contain tutorials. They are very good and have lots of different patterns/techniques.

Most importantly is have fun! Sometimes ugly flies catch fish better than perfect ones (did you ever notice how a fly that has caught a few fish start getting ragged and then catches a ton more fish....)

06-13-2009, 12:37 PM
Some suggestions
1) get with some tyers for lessons a local TU or FFF club maybe of help.
2) if not possible order some DVD's- specific for the flies you want to tie. Gary Borger as a general fly tying one that great. These two suggestions are extremely important. You don't want to learn mistakes.
3)Concentrate on tying a few fly patterns you will use, tie a number of them and see the improvement. Also, I second the sites listed by PeteCz
and specifically flyanglersonline.com I refer any beginning tyer to them.

I VERY SELDOM BUY TYING MATERIALS ONLINE OTHER THAN HOOKS, ETC. (on sale)- STANDARDIZED MATERIALS-. Again call LRO, explain what you are tying and what you need. THEY WILL GLADLY HELP YOU! There is a wide variation in materials. Things from a "big box store" maybe selected by individuals who have never tied a fly.

Remember that most professional tyers- sell their good flies and fish with their mistakes. Your flies do not have to be identical to the picture to catch fish.

Randall Sale
the Kytroutbum

06-13-2009, 12:40 PM
Great tips...thank you!

And you were right about me pre-cutting the hackle feathers! Now that you point out the correct way, it makes perfect sense. Not sure why I didn't think to do it that way.

I'll definitely call LRO for materials in the future...sorry guys! I've bought things online and there in person, but since tying materials aren't online it never occurred to just call and order them.

Live and learn....

06-13-2009, 01:48 PM
Just remembered WWW.flyfishohio.com has some excellent free videos

06-13-2009, 07:05 PM
Just remembered WWW.flyfishohio.com (http://WWW.flyfishohio.com) has some excellent free videos

Those are some well done videos (especially for free!). Just watched a few.
Thanks for sharing!

06-15-2009, 08:21 AM
I wish they had DVDs on tying when I started, but books are nice too. If you can find it, get Talleur's Mastering the Art of Fly Tying. Helped me more than anything.