View Full Version : Beginner Fly Tying

01-16-2006, 03:52 PM
For someone who is wanting to start tying some, what are some recommended tools, kits, vises, materials,books, etc. to get started with? Thanks!

Byron Begley
01-16-2006, 06:55 PM
andyo, The best beginner fly tying book I've seen is Basic Techniques for Successful Fly Tying by Brad Befus and John Berryman. It goes for 22 bucks and it is 120 pages of full color photos and good information.

appalachian angler
01-18-2006, 08:45 PM

Like Byron said, start with a good book that covers the fundamentals for tying nymphs, dries streamers, and wets (assuming you will be tying flies for trout). Instead of spending alot of time piddling with a kit, at first get just what you will need for tying a few proven fly patterns in the area you most plan to fish. Best if you can take a class or sit down with a friend who ties. I don't know how long you have been flyfishing, but I applaud your willingness to give tying a try! If I could only have 6 flys in my trout box, they would be: Adams dry sz.16, Elk hair caddis dry sz. 14, Gold Ribbed Hairs ear nymph sz. 12. Partridge and Orange soft-hackled wet fly sz. 12, Olive wooley bugger (streamer) sz. 10, and a Bead Head Pheasant Tail nymph sz. 14. Others top six may vary some, but this was meant to be an example. Many fo the materials needed to tye these six flies, and others of course carry over from patern to pattern. From the materials list to tye these patterns can come many other fly patterns and variations using the very same skills used to tye them.
Buy a decent vice without going over board. Buy this I mean one in the $100-150 dollar range. A decent tool kit will probably cost you around $ 50 for the basics. *For vices I would recomend HMH Spartan, Dynaking Kingfisher, Regal C-clamp or pedestal. I wouldn't recomend a "true Rotary" style vice to begin with even with the $69 price tag for a Danvise. A fixed platform is much more stable and less aggrivating/distracting for the new tyer. *Materials to tye all of the above listed flys(and I'm talking about enough to tye dozens of them) you are looking at maybe $ 100 worth. Not trying to be discouraging because you very well may get discouraged with a discount kit for $50 bucks.
If you are ready to make the leap into tying, you owe it to yourself to buy decent stuff at the onset. Once you have made some decisions on what flies you would like to tye, then make that your goal. The patterns I suggested are just that; suggestions. They all work for me in the park and nearly all trout waters that I have stalked. The skills gained by tying these patterns are unvisersal in trout fly tying. Most of the better begining tying books will suggest these very patterns or ones very similar requiring the same skills to tye them. Hope some of this advise helps you. My only other advise is go down to LRO and let one of their staff walk you through exactly what you need. I don't believe any of them will sell you crap or push you to buy expensive stuff you don't need. One of the reasons I love dealing with them. Not only that but their tying materials are the most reasonably priced you will find! So maybe you spend $300...might be alot to swallow but you will go home happy and anxious to get started!
I started flyfishing about 6 years ago. About 6 months later I started tying and haven't looked back since. There is nothing more satisfying than fooling a trout with a fly that you tyed! You learn to cast, then how to rig your rod. You learn to select flys, present them and how to read a stream. You learn about the bugs in your waters and then learn how to tye to imitate them...Circle complete!

Happy Tying,


01-21-2006, 11:12 PM
When I started tying, I didn't have much green and did what I could with what I had and was just a little A vise from some big brand box store - though it would have been nice to get a better vise - I really wasn't ready for a quality because I did not know what I needed just yet. That old vice was great to learn on as i read some books and kept at it...Skip Morris's "Fly Tying made clear and simple"was where I started and it seem to be as good as any place for an uninitiated to start. My starting patterns were elk hair caddis, para-adams, and a pheasant tail nymph - and they are pretty much standard in my Smokies box. Different sizes and colors can cover just about most hatches in the park if your limited on buget as I was....
Later as I progressed, I ended up with nicer tying equipment and more feathers and scraps if hide that i care to admit - so heres the best advice that no one ever gave me as I started out - find a way now to organized your tying stuff -it will get out of control like you would not believe!!! I handed the A vise to my 3year old who tied his first fly in a multi colored stack of chopped up micro chenille cross between a shreaded up San Jaun worm and a dead pheasant tail with sewing thread mixed in ;D it was a beauty! Haven't fished it just yet, though i sure some stocker in Gatlinburg would eat the thing.
There is just nothing like the feeling of catching fish with the flies you've tied...


01-26-2006, 04:24 PM
I just started tying about a month ago and have found it to be sometimes difficult, but always rewarding. I guess the biggest thrill was catching a nice Rainbow on a fly I had tied myself. That is really what it boils down to anyway. I would suggest spending what you can afford, tie what you KNOW will work, and just enjoy the whole process. Trust me, the wide variety of materials and tools will come even if you don't intend for it to happen. The advise to keep it in order is very, very, wise. I went on this marathon tying session one night and when I was finished it was an absolute mess. Good luck on your endevours!

01-27-2006, 03:17 PM
I'll give some advise from what I've learned since I started tying about 4 years ago. Try to avoid most of the tying kits that are out there. I'm sure that there are some good ones, but my experience and the experience of some friends has been mostly bad. The best things to come out of the kits were the beginner books and the videos. I got a very nice Jack Dennis tying book and video with my kit. The tools were good enough to get the job done, but definitely had problems. The real problem was with the materials. I wouldn't consider anything I got with my kit useable today, except maybe a chunk of muskrat fur. The feathers were less than useless for pretty much anything, even wet flies.

My suggestion would be to go somewhere like LRO and enlist some help. Get a decent $100 or so vice. Get a good set of basic tools. Then pick out a very basic set of materials for tying a small selection of the most useful flies (Adams, yellow palmer, hare's ear, pheasant tail). Get good dry fly necks. I was more frustrated by poor dry fly hackle than anything with my kit. If you're on a budget, silver Whiting half necks are good. Essential Trout Flies by Dave Hughes is a great book for figuring out a "fly tying philosophy." This book will give you a good basic set of flies to catch trout any where, but there are any number of other good beginner books. Find a decent video or take a class as that will help fill in some holes that are difficult to learn from a book. Finally, start with an easy fly that will catch fish. I definitely recommend starting with a yellow palmer. It's basically a wooly worm dry fly. I have caught fish everywhere I've ever used it and it's only three materials plus thread. You learn how to tie on a tail, dub a body and wrap a hackle all on an easy fly. I'm addicted to fly tying now. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have,


Randy Ratliff
01-29-2006, 11:01 AM

02-02-2006, 02:26 PM
This weekend I stopped and looked in a pool on the stream and started sifting through the rocks. I noticed the stonefly was everywhere!! I was able to catch several fish on something that resembled it however I want something that is much closer to the real thing. Now I am debating on starting to do some tying of my own. Going to see if the wife wants to learn with me as she seems to be getting more interested in my fishing passion. I am glad a lot of you are steering people away from the kits because I came close to buying one. My first thought was how cheap are the components they use in those kits. Since I am in no REAL hurry on getting started I think my first job will be searching for a good vise. Then I will most likely start attending the fly tying classes down at LRO since we are down there on a regular basis.

I would highly suggest that anyone who thinks they might get into fly tying or just want to watch. Definitely go down to LRO in the fall when they have the big fly tying event. We lucked up on being down there that same weekend and it was the coolest thing watching these guys work. Some of the stuff they tied was just AMAZING!!!

02-08-2006, 09:11 AM
I would suggest signing up for some fly tying classes. *Little River Outfitters has some great classes, and teacher, as well. *My fishing partner and I have travelled 500 miles from Ohio to attend several of their classes during the winter. *I like Skip Morris' books on tying as well as any books by Dave Hughes.

02-08-2006, 12:59 PM
I've got to give a big thumbs up to the book Fly Tying made clear and simple by Skip Morris.

Back in 04', after lot's of night school, my wife graduated from College. So, with her time burning, busy hobby of school out of the way, she came to me asking me what she could do as a hobby to occupy her spare time. Being a man of few words, I said "I dunno". She piddled around for a bit and said "what about tying flies"?

My eye's instantly lit up. Being on the water a lot and losing a bunch of flies means that I'm always needing bugs. I instantly said yes. I showed her a few things and I got her a copy of the book I mentioned. Well, I took off for a week of work on the river and when I returned I found that she'd tied me a couple dozen boogers. Now boogers can, at times, be a guide's best friend, and you can never have enough.

I was thrilled and for the rest of the season, I never found myself lacking for any color or size booger. And they were good ties too. Looked good and I didn't have to tie them. :)

She did all of my boogers for two seasons before our son was born. Now days, I'm back to tying my own boogers as well as everything else I need. But it was nice while it lasted.....and all it took was a few words from me (very little other than showing tools) and the book by Skip Morris. 8-)

02-15-2006, 02:06 PM
The best you can do is get to some lessons. Even with a good book or internet you can't watch a fly being tied and that is the real learning. After a few lessons you will be able to tie any thing you see or dream up.

Three flies to learn for the Park are:

Thunderhead dry fly taught by Walter

Georges Nymph Fish these two together and you won't have a fishless day.

This one is a variation of the Wooly Bugger No. 12 standard hook, olive green Maribou tail twice as long as shank, 6-7 wraps of lead wire. olive green dubbing, finished with two pieces of crystal flash on each side and out into the tail. Give it a good thread head. This fly is deadly on bass and blue gill, and sometimes produces on tail waters

02-15-2006, 02:11 PM
I recently started fly tying a couple of months ago, I got a kit for Christmas and then bought the Orvis fly tying guide. *What do yall think about that book? *Seems to be a little expensive but helpful. *I have been fishing for less than two years so I am not sure on what to simulate as far as insects go just yet. *However I did take an entemology class that has helped a lot.(easy A)

I am trying to tie some flies for our spring break trip and being a college student with limited funds I find I am substituting the best I can. *My question on this is how closely should I make my flies resemble others I see online and in the book? *Can I get away with using different materials for different flies? *Such as for my BWO's all I have is light blue dun hackle. *Is that something I should shell out the cash to buy a different shade of blue, and if so what color should I purchase? *For my Prince nymphs I have been substituting parts of the turkey feathers off of a turkey I shot last year, (cheaper that way.) *I think it looks pretty close, however will that be something that is durable enough to fish with? *Also I don't have any wood duck flank, how important is that or is there something I can sub instead on flies like my hendricksons?

We are planning on spending a few days at the end of March around Cades Cove on Abrams and up towards Tremont, then heading up to the S. Toe river towards Burnsville. *I have been tying *Prince and Pheasant tail, nymphs, * Some thunderheads, midges, parachute BWO's, female and parachute Adams, and tan caddis flies(someone showed I can substitute tan foam for elk hair???) *Tied a couple of pink henricksons and a not so good attempt at some quill gordons. *If yall have any suggestions on something else I should look into tying I would appreciate it greatly. *

There aren't really any fly shops around Auburn, AL. to get tips from, so any help would be appreciated grealty.

02-15-2006, 02:25 PM
You may want to think about how a trout sees the surface. It wouldn't hurt to get under water and let someone float some flies your way!! As the fish looks up at the surface and depending how deep he is , only has a limited view of the surface. If the fish sees a bugs feet dimpling the surface along with it's tail and some sort of wings they will eat if hungry. I guess that color has a little to do with it but size and shape make the most difference.

More important than the fly is how you fish it. Learn to read the water and get to the point where you can cast forwards, backwards, and to either side.
Presentation is more important than the fly. You may be pleasantly suprised at what a fish will eat if it comes to them as a natural.

02-16-2006, 09:27 AM
I can sympathize with your financial situation. *I started tying when I was still in college and broke. *I did a lot of substituting with my flies, mostly with stuff I got hunting or could buy from Walmart. *Surprisingly, most of it worked out. *I actually think substituting materials is a good idea as you're being forced to innovate, and who knows, you might come up with something that works better than the original. *Eventually, if you stick with it, you will come to have a good collection of the needed materials and can tie your flies by the recipes. *Until then, I say keep doing what you're doing. *Not sure what materials you have, but you can use deer hair or poly yarn or turkey flats for the wing on hendrickson's. *Check out this article for a few ideas: http://flyfisherman.com/ftb/tljswings/. *Matching the color perfectly on wings isn't a big concern, or doesn't seem so to me. *To be perfectly honest, you could probably get away without the wings at all, just hackle. *I use light blue dun on my BWOs and it works well. *Sounds like you're doing well. *You can always pick up a few flies from LRO to fill out your box for your trip, and make sure to get a few new materials. *Like 3flies said, it's more important to fish the flies you have well. *I think it would probably be difficult for you to tie a flie that won't catch a fish at some point. *My brother whipped me last fall on a North Carolina stream with a parachute Adams that looked like a big wad of fur. *I figure he was imitating a chewing gum emerger with that thing. *He is new to tying as well.


02-16-2006, 01:39 PM
3flies, good point, I never considered that while I was tying the flies but I guess it really is all about how the fish sees the fly and not so much as how I see it. *

Hawgdaddy, that makes me feel better that my flies might catch some fish. *I had a big section of deer hair I cut off a doe I shot this season, but my dog ate the whole thing. *Now that season is over I am substituting his hair for my deer hair he ate. *Maybe a cold winter will teach him to stay out of my fly tying stuff.

Thanks for the feedback yall.


02-20-2006, 09:59 AM
About the dog hair. Remember deer hair is hollow that is why it works on certain patterns. Dog hair is not. Plus what if you tie a fly that someone wants to market? You will have to raise a lot of dogs and sale peices of hide!!!HaHa