View Full Version : Fly Tying - what do I really need

10-10-2007, 11:29 AM
Hi -
I'm considering taking up tying some of my own flies this winter. Mainly, I'm interested in tying the flies I use the most and subsequently loose the most. Adams (18, 20, 22), griffiths gnats (20 22, 24), midges, assorted bead head nymphs (pheasant tail, prince, etc.) and non bead head nymphs (assorted hares ear, zebra nymph, etc), Woolie buggers, bluegill poppers (foam body and cork body), assorted foam bugs (spiders, hoppers, creepy crawlie things, etc.)

So, my question is given the thousands of gadgets out there, what is really needed to get started tying some of the above basic kinds of flies? Also, specific recommendations are welcome (i.e. Brand XYZ scissors, Brand and Model XYZ vice, etc.).

Also, recommendations of good books and videos to get me started on the right foot.

Unfortunately, I do not live close enough to LRO to attend a fly tying class there and I'm not aware of any classes around my area (need to check)

Since I've never done this before any recommendations are welcome. If the recommendation is run away and just buy your flies, that is also a welcome recommendation.

I do not see this as a cost saving proposition (investment in tools looks like it would buy a LOT of flies) but more of a "darn, I need a black widget waxing fly and I don't have time to order one to be shipped before the next outing" kind of a deal.


10-10-2007, 05:56 PM

I've been tying my own flies for about a year now, and I must say, it is actually fun, and can be quite addictive. There are tons of fly tying materials and gadgets out there, but you only NEED a couple of things to get started.

First of all, you need a decent vice. There are many models out there, so pick one that will best suit your needs and price range. You also need a thread bobbin, whip finishing tool, hair stacker, and a dubbin teaser. If you're going to spend more money on any particular tool (other than your vice), it should be your scissors. Choose a good, sharp pair with fine points. They will come in very handy when you are tying tiny flies.

Other than that, all you need are the tying materials. Buy a couple spools of thread. I recommend brown, black, and grey in size 6/0. You will also need some fine copper or gold wire. Other common materials are pheasant tails, goose biots (black, white, brown), dubbin, and grizzly/brown hackle.

Don't forget your hooks, beads, and glue (this will help hold those flies together when they being pounded by the teeth of a big brown trout).

Good luck,

10-10-2007, 10:48 PM
ak best, book, production fly tying is a great book has help me more than any book that i have read in 20 yrs of tying buy the book first and read before any purchase ,great info on tools and materials needed and his recommendations are right on its is available in paper back.

10-11-2007, 12:36 AM
ak best, book, production fly tying is a great book has help me more than any book that i have read in 20 yrs of tying buy the book first and read before any purchase

I walked into a fly shop with the money to buy a Renzetti Traveller. Got sent home with a tying book instead. :biggrin: I'm still reading the darn thing. No vise yet!

billspey gave some good advice

10-11-2007, 07:35 PM
Thanks for the tips.

10-20-2007, 04:57 PM

Check out www.flytyingforum.com (http://www.flytyingforum.com) They have some great information on fly tying including a Virtual Fly Tying Class that involves "live fly tying instruction over the web." For brave hearts, they have a thread where you can post pictures of your first attempts at fly tying.

10-20-2007, 06:05 PM
If you look at Fly Anglers Online's Beginning Fly Tying section, you will be quickly tying useful flies that should get you in business.

For myself, I started with a hand-me-down Herter's vise. Last year at this time I had a bad day on the Clinch and lost something like 5 or 6 zebra midges. I got ticked off paying $2/each for thread, wire, and a bead, so I decided to try to tie my own. Zebra midges are a great place to start. If you buy brass beads, one spool of small wire, a package of Tiemco 2457 or 2487 hooks in 18 or 20, and one spool of thread, you'll be tying flies in no time. The only other things I think you'd need at that point are a pair of tweezers (for threading the beads on the hook), a bottle of thinned clear Sally Hansen's nail polish (thread cement for finishing), a bobbin (get the ceramic ones!), a pair of scissors, a whip finisher, and a vise.

My guess would be that you could get all of this for about $75 if you buy quality components, but that's a gut feel. From that point, it's looking at new patterns and comparing what you have (or can make do with!) to what is needed for that particular fly.

My own advice would be to start on Zebra midges, then go to Wooly Buggers, then hare's ear and pheasant tail nymphs. All of these are relatively cheap, easy flies that work all over. It starts to get a bit pricier when you get into dry flies and have to start buying hackle.

10-20-2007, 11:42 PM
Thanks for the responses. I'm going to read the fly tying forum. I'm already on flyanglers online (nice board by the way).


10-21-2007, 10:06 AM
I would second the two pieces of advice already given: 1) get a book or two (I like Skip Morris' Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple) and read it first to find out what tools/materials you need to ties the flies you are interested in, and 2) Pick a nymph or midge to start with and get comfortable tying it.

The best thing to do is pick one or two simple flies and work on those in one or two sizes until you have the proportions worked out and the techniques mastered. Jumping up into dries will involve hackle feathers which can get expensive in a hurry. The Adams will require Grizzly and Brown hackles and for the Griffiths you'll need Grizzly, as well. If you want to save a bit of money (a good hackle cape can cost up to $100-ouch) I would order Whiting 100s instead. You get enough hackle feathers, in the size you want, to tie about 100 flies. The good thing about this is that most folks that start out have trouble selecting the right size hackle feather, and then the fly is out of proportion for the hook size. With the Whiting 100s you get a premium hackle feather with the guesswork taken out, and they are around $15.

Once you get good at it and really like tying flies in many different sizes, then you'll want to buy a full cape. But don't get carried away in the beginning.

Also, you probably want to start tying some of the bigger flies first. They are easier to tie. A size 22 Adams would drive you nuts as a beginner...

There are tons of websites with recipes and tying instructions (some with videos). You should start to bookmark some of those, as well. Check out this topic on the LRO board:

Good luck and have fun!

10-24-2007, 05:20 PM
You have been given some very good advice, but I have another option for you!! How about a long weekend in the mountains. Sign up for one of the fly tying classes at LRO and take an extra day or two to fish-now that we have water. I think you would advance in your tying skills much faster if you took one of their classes. Read one of the book recommended before the class and write down all the questions you have and ask them in the class. Their instructors will be able to show you some things that it will take you a while to pick up on your own. Good luck in this new venture.