Fly Tying: Starting To Tie?

Fly tying is a seemingly complex pursuit, yet at the beginning I suggest you keep it as rock bottom simple as possible. I say this because, like many pursuits in life,  you most probably will dabble and drop.

Take a class. Most classes start in the early Fall. There are usually 3-5 classes for under 100.  This will often show you if you really have an interest to continue. If so, buy a reasonable starter kit for under 100. If classes are not available at a nearby fly shop or community college then take the time to watch the countless You Tube videos and read sites, like here and from my blog roll, and get a sense of the techniques that are typically employed. Books abound re fly tying, but start with basic how to books.

I hope you would not succumb to walking into a shop or sporting goods store (sorry shops) and laying out a cool 1000.+ for a trout fishing set up with out a clue whether you will continue. I know shops love the customer of means that walks in and doesn’t blink plopping down such money. But, for the beginning fly fisher and for the beginning fly tier…start slow, buy reasonably priced gear to start and upgrade later if the passion is there. If you are so well healed that you can afford top of the line, then have at it.

Next, know thy self. In your pursuits, do you accumulate lots of stuff (me)? Or, are you more self contained and organized (not me).  Plan for this. I have to strongly urge that you keep your fly tying (and fly fishing gear) organized. In the beginning it seems easy enough. But, diverse avenues of interest can spread you out before you know it…so, plan the organization of your materials and gear.

Lastly, plan a pleasant place to tie. I have tied on bread boards, kitchen counters, cold garages, damp basements, dining room and kitchen tables. Make it pleasant and have excellent lighting and a perfect back drop to avoid eye strain. Clean up after yourself after completing each pattern. Otherwise you will create that layered look of spey fly materials on top of stillwater patterns on top of ….'”now where did I put that dubbing?”  Tie the basic patterns and master the techniques while creating worthy, productive patterns. Enjoy!

4 Responses to “Fly Tying: Starting To Tie?”

  1. August 29, 2010 at 13:14

    If you are having trouble finding a place to take a tying class, but you do have a local shop that sells tying materials it may benefit you to ask around about regular customers that tie.

    If you can it really helps to get with someone who has been tying for a while who can show you their setup and give you an unbiased opinion on what gear and materials will start you off right, as well as give you some lessons on the basics.

    This also may give you a chance to see the madness that can accompany tying flies, and give you an opportunity to back out before it’s too late and you are trying to sell that brand new Dyna King on ebay.


  2. 2 SwittersB
    August 29, 2010 at 12:12

    Yes, your welcome. Also, I am making an assumption that you fish for trout and you live near fly shops etc. Adapt my advice to your local needs. Best of luck.


  3. 4 SwittersB
    August 29, 2010 at 11:53


    Vise (most expensive item), bobbin, scissors, hackle pliars, hair stacker, whip finisher, head cement, bodkin (for basic tools needed). Hackle, dubbing, chenille, & feathers, tinsel/wire ribbing, hooks, thread (for materials). The basics should not run over 100. bucks in most instances (again vise is what may push it over 100.). Don’t pay too much more. If it is a kit and materials someone had and wants to now get rid of then ask for a list of materials. You may hit a gold mine of stuff for a good price. I, personally, don’t have the patience for online haggling and must see it and touch it before buying. Old school I know. If you want to share a list of materials and tools let me know and I will see if good setup for price.

    My advice: take a class. Then buy materials to tie wet fly, nymph, woolly bugger, elk hair caddis and Adams and not all at once. Perhaps the basic patterns of the Adams, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Hare’s Ear Nymph, Elk Hair Caddis, Woolly Bugger, Wet Fly Patterns. From there, and once you master the techniques, then the tying world is unlimited.

    Good Luck!



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