Getting started in fly tying can be overwhelming. There are seemingly a million terms, techniques, tools, and the like. But, it doesn't need to be that hard. Here at Trouts Fly Fishing, we want to make your journey into and through fly tying as simple and approachable as possible. That's why we're excited to bring you "Trouts Tips | Getting Started in Fly Tying." Today we will be going over the basic tools of fly tying. We will be covering the basic uses and purpose of these tools while also mentioned a couple of our favorites we carry here in the shop. If you are a fan of video content we put together a fantastic video version of what we will be talking about today. It is time to learn about fly tools and their uses.
Out of all the tools mentioned today, a high-quality bobbin is the most important. This is the tool that you will be using the most when tying up flies and that is because this is what holds your thread. The bobbin is the base of any fly tyers kit and should not be skimped on when it comes to quality. In my early days of tying, I would find the cheapest bobbin I could find and soon found that after a couple of hundred flies the bobbin would start to score and rip my thread. The idea behind a bobbin is very simple, to provide the fly tyer with a way to wrap the hook shank with thread as you need it, and also provides you with something to hold onto while tying. If you are familiar with sewing machines, the concept is pretty much the same. This tool is very simple but very useful for any fly tyer.
An ergonomic and high-performing update to the indispensable tying tool. The powder-coated ergonomic handle rests perfectly between the thumb and fingers, while the spring steel spool holder allows for easy adjustment in tension by changing the pressure applied by the grip. The tube is designed with versatility in mind: the high gauge works well when tying small flies, and the tube is long enough to tackle large patterns as well.
The Umpqua Dream Stream Bobbin is perfect for beginners and works with a variety of threads, spools, and wires. This bobbin is constructed of surgical-grade Japanese stainless steel and the thread tension can be easily adjusted.
When we look at a bobbin threader, this tool goes hand in hand with a bobbin mentioned above. The idea behind a bobbin threader is that it simply runs your thread through the tube in your bobbin. This tool comes in handy if you have just a singular bobbin and are repeatedly swapping out the thread for various flies. Before I tried one, I was spending 5-6 minutes trying to thread my bobbin by hand and would get frustrated every time I had to swap out threads for new flies.
The Rising Threada is made from aluminum, stainless steel spring wire, and epoxy that makes it superior to the rest: finger-friendly shape, wire that can be bent and pinched without breaking, and two wires so that when you somehow break one you have another.
A bodkin is a very simple tool, it is simply a needle with a handle on it. This tool ranges in size from varying manufacturers but, their purpose is all the same. The purpose of this is to pick out dubbing that is in your fly to make it look buggier when in the water. This is also a very useful tool when you are applying head cement or, stick-on eyes to your fly. By using this tool you can ensure that glue goes exactly where you want it and none where you don't. There are certain types of glue that you won't need a bodkin for like UV Glue but, we will be covering that a little bit later on.
The Rising Stout Bodkin is an aluminum rod lathed in house at Rising to make the handle, the strong needle is cemented into place with their secret, high-tech compound and the result is a Bodkin that performs flawlessly for years.
The idea behind hackle pliers is that they are a very tight spring-loaded plier. This allows you to hang on tightly to the hackle when spinning around the shank of the hook. This is a valuable tool if you are making tight hackle wraps and are looking to get beautiful hand-tied flies. If you try to wrap the hackle by hand it is very easy to have the hackle slip from your hand and immediately unravel all the work you just got done doing. Ultimately wasting material and time.
When we look at scissor options we have three different types with different purposes.
All Purpose Scissors:
These scissors are great general cutting scissors when it comes to fly tying material. They are not too short and not too long which means they can generally cut any angle or distance. You will notice a slight serration on these scissors which will allow for the gripping of materials when cutting to make clean cuts. You will find yourself using these to cut thread, excess materials like fur dubbing, and foam. Typically you will find yourself using these scissors the most so a high-quality scissor is a great upfront investment.
Fine Point Scissors:
These are very easy to tell when searching for a pair of fine point scissors because of the blade length. The serration is the same when looking at an all purpose scissor but, these scissors are made for more precise trimming of materials or for smaller flies.
Hair Scissors are going to be the longest out of all the scissors mentioned and will have a full serration along the blade. This is to allow for the full grip of material instead of pushing away the hair you are trying to cut or trim. You will find these scissors most useful if you are tying up classic elk hair caddis, bass bugs, or deer hair streamers. Another side bonus of having a pair of hair scissors is that you will not dull your other scissors. Animal hair is very harsh on scissors and if you are turning out dozens of deer hair or elk hair-based flies, you will notice that your all-purpose scissors will dull quickly.
It's not just a clever name: these scissors were designed for all purposes. They'll quickly take a lot of hair off of a hide, delicately remove one pesky fiber, and everything in between. The ergonomic handles were designed for the larger-handed among us but will accommodate hands of all sizes.
As someone who has been using their fingers to slide in materials into dubbing loops and watching it all fall out as I release, I can tell you having a material tweezer is an absolute game-changer. I can't see why anyone who ties flies would not want this tool. Not only are you saving material from falling all over the place, but you are increasing the quality of the flies you produce, which is what every fly tyer wants. Once you have cut or picked the desired material you want inside your dubbing loop you simply collect the material inside your material tweezers and place it inside your dubbing loop. The tight grip the tweezers provide will allow you to set and space your materials before placing them in your dubbing loop, dramatically increasing the quality of your ties. We will be going over the practical use of this tool later on, or if you would like you can head over to our Getting Started In Fly Tying Series on Youtube.
A versatile, large tweezer that is ideal for creating your own custom dubbing/composite loops and brushes. It can also be used for picking up and placing difficult-to-handle beads, hooks, and eyes. The 3.75" tip has a ruler printed on it to help you determine and repeat the correct length every time.
In order to create a dubbing loop, you are going to need a dubbing spinner. Just like a bobbin and a bobbin threader, a dubbing spinner goes hand in hand with material tweezers. This allows for your material to twist up and provide your bugs with a buggy finish. If you are interested in learning how to create dubbing loops we go over it in depth HERE on our Youtube Channel.
The Rising Stubby Shepard is an American-made open-loop dubbing twister. The dead center of Shepard’s hook lines up with a vertical shaft of wire, and the knurled handle is oversized for comfort and weight.
An invaluable tool if you like to create long, large, complex, and durable dubbed bodies. Simply create a thread loop, attach spinner to bottom, place dubbing mix on one side of thread (inside), and spin. Currently, this item is out of stock from our Denver location.
After you trim your desired section of elk or deer hair, you will need to put them into a hair stacker. This is a very simple tool with one purpose, to stack hair with even ends. This will make your elk hair caddis other animal hair head flies look very clean and balanced. These come in two general sizes and the sizes related to the diameter of hair you are choosing to use. If you are using a larger diameter of the hair, you will naturally choose the larger size of hair stacker and smaller diameter hair stacker for a smaller diameter of animal hair.
Using a hair stacker is the only way to make sure hair wings and tails look just right. The Zippy Hair Stacker is a one-piece alternative to making sure that hair wings are full and even. The hinged design allows hair to be loaded easily, stacked, and removed cleanly. Magnets keep the stacker closed while in use, and the window in the base allows tyers to see when tips are aligned. Available in three sizes, there is a perfect option for flies and fibers of all sizes.
A must-have for any tyer - contains all of your essential tying tools in one great travel case.
Set Includes the following Dream Stream PLUS tools: Bobbin, Bodkin, Threader, Whip-finish tool, Hackle plier, 5” scissor, Hair stacker
When it comes to essential fly tying tools, that about does it y'all. Many of these tools are very intuitive to use and allow to fly tyer to be as efficient as possible when tying. If videos are more your style we have put together a great series over on our Youtube Channel going over the basic aspects fly tying all for FREE. This series is an exceptional value for anyone interested in fly tying and offers some great insight into tools, techniques required for becoming a proficient fly tyer. If you are looking to get an entire set of fly tying tools, instead of purchasing them individually, there are some fantastic options here in the shop. These sets are the perfect gift for the new fly tier or to have as a traveling set. At the end of the day fly tying is an evolution in any angler's journey and is a journey worth embarking on. If you are wanting to dip your toe in the water of the tying world and not invest a ton upfront, swing by for our Fly Tying 101 classes! If you're just starting out in fly fishing, we proudly offer a wide variety of in-store classes like Fly Fishing 101, Bugs for Beginners, & Fly Tying 101 as well. If you have any questions regarding fly tying materials or gear, shoot me an email at email@example.com.