Fly Tying Basics

fly_tyingThere comes a certain point when an angler begins to modify or even create their own lures. Fly fishing, however, strongly encourages such imagination and craftsmanship, as fly anglers are well-known for hand-tying their own flies. The art—yes, it is indeed an art—has become a method of income for many and continues to grow through pastoral tradition. There are even some who have never fly fished, and never plan to, who tie flies as a hobby. If you’ve ever been curious about fly tying, today’s article is for you. I’ll let you know the basic materials, tools, and anything else you might need in order to test the waters of this honored craft and see what all the buzz is about.

The most important tool in fly tying is the vise. Vises range from handheld models to standing models that stand fixated on a flat base. Be sure to purchase a quality product, though, as sub-par vises will only cause frustration when their inadequate design creates malfunctions. Other than a vise, a bobbin is an integral piece of fly tying equipment, and is simply a tool designed to hold a spool of thread. Small scissors and pliers are helpful, as well, as they make quick snipping, trimming, and clipping easier when fully involved with a fly. You can purchase all these tools separately, but I suggest—especially if it’s your first time—picking up a fly tying kit. These kits come with the basic essentials for the craft and sometimes are accompanied by a book or DVD to help guide beginners.

Flies can made from a plethora of materials. I’ve seen anglers create amazing flies out of dog hair, wayward seagull feathers, and even padded wrapping for postal packages. It’s really about your imagination and what you can create from it. Of course, the materials will vary depending on the type of fly you’re tying, but experimenting is always encouraged.

First-timers would also do well to pick up a few books or videos on basic fly-tying to help them start off on the right foot. Step-by-step instructions that you can see in pictures or a movie go a long way towards clarifying any confusion along the way and there are hundreds of products to choose from. Any videos by Joan Wulff or Lefty Kreh are good choices. Furthermore, you can find free fly-tying classes all over the country where people gather to simply tie flies and mingle. The Bass Pro Shops in Portage, IN, for instance, hosts such a class every Tuesday night, and provides its guests with ample seating, materials, and even coffee.

Anyone who has customized or crafted their own lure from scratch can attest to the swell of pride that fills them when a fish is enticed by their creation. There’s nothing like that feeling. By utilizing your imagination and knowledge, you too can experience such a rewarding rush the next time you’re on the water. All it takes is a few tools, an attention to detail, and maybe a tuft of dog hair.