Fly Fishing Fly Tying

Fly tying tools for beginners

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Fish prefer to hide (especially the largest ones) under trees and various submerged obstacles, which poses a significant risk of losing flies to fly angler. However, the vast majority of fishermen, despite the possible loss of a fly, decide to try to catch a beautiful large brown trout (or any other species of fish) hiding under a branch or near a large tree trunk. Usually these fly throws don’t end well (at least for the most part not), as usually the fly lands and stays where we least wanted it. We usually try several more times until we find out that we no longer have these types of flies in our box.

No big deal, as they have others in the fishing shops. But they really have them? Usually the flies we want to buy are sold out or are different colors than we want or tied to an oversized hook or too expensive postage or …. .

The answer to how to get to these flies we love is to tie them ourselves. Starting to tie flies to yourself is not as challenging as it seems. You only need to buy a few basic fly tying tools and then some fly tying material. In this blog post I will describe the fly tying tools for beginners.

Fly tying tools

To make it easier to decide which tools to buy at the beginning of tying flies I have described below the most important tools that in my experience you need to have in order to start tying your own flies.

Bobbin threader

My bobbin threader is already a bit twisted (countless times use) but still doing its job.

A simple tool for threading of the bobbin. It saves us time, to put the thread with your fingers through the bobbin tube usually does not go very smoothly and it is necessary to try several times to succeed. Without it we can tie flies but with it it is much easier and less stressful. I highly recommend this tool.

Bodkin needle

With this universal tool you can precisely applying varnish or glue, teasing out trapped materials, clear out excessive cement from hook eyes, pick out dubbing, separate fibers, coating and securing flies and many more possibilities of use.

Important: caution is required when working with bodkin needle due to the sharp point.

Bobbin holder

The cheapest version of the bobbin.
A more expensive version of the bobbin.

In my opinion a tool without which we cannot tie flies (it is possible to tie flies but I do not recommend). Its basic function is to precisely wind the thread and take care of the tension of the thread. In fly fishing shops you can find different types of bobbins, which differ in price, size, material, quality of workmanship and much more. I don’t recommend the cheapest because they often tear threads. If you already have the cheapest bobbin use it to hold a spool of wire.

Although the purpose of the post is to present basic beginner tools for making flies, I would still recommend beginners to buy a medium quality bobbin. You won’t regret it as you will avoid unnecessary tearing of threads and a bad mood when learning to tie flies. I experienced this myself, so very quickly (when I started tying the flies) I replaced the cheapest bobbin with a better quality bobbin and it was worth every cent ?.


Another very important tool without which I can’t imagine tying flies. I advise you to buy a double pair of scissors at the beginning of the fly tying. One pair of cheap scissors (probably you have some older ones at home and you won’t need to buy these) for cutting harder materials such as wire, lead wire, larger pieces of material (foam, feathers, rubber, …). The second pair of scissors should be with a super fine and very sharp point due to cutting smaller pieces of material, cutting threads on smaller flies and the like. These precision scissors are found in different price range, but to start tying flies, cheaper scissors will do the job.

Whip Finisher

To keep the fly as it was, it is necessary to fix it with a slip knot (noose knot) at the end of tying. I don’t use this tool because i finish the knot by hand (hand whip finish – both small and large flies). To me personally since I tying the flies this accessory doesn’t suit me and that’s why I always finish the slip knot with my hand. Because I have thinner fingers this is not a problem for me but for people with thicker fingers I recommend using whip finish (especially for tying a smaller flies).

At the beginning of tying flies I recommend that you try both techniques of tying the final slip knot (with whip finish and by hand) and then decide which one suits you best.

Hair Stacker

If you want to have the same length and even hair wings and tails, the use of this tool is practically necessary. It can be used to align the length of various fur materials such as nutria, deer, bucktail, elk, caribou, calf and so on. It’s not the most necessary tool but it’s fine if you have it.

Hackle Plier

This useful tool is used to hold the stem of the feather while wrapping it around the hook. Make it easier to work with delicate feathers and prevent the fibers from being damaged. hackle plier can also be used to hold wires and other materials.

Dubbing twister

Its basic function is to create a dubbing loop with a thread. In addition to dubbing, other materials can also be used (flash, feathers – cdc, …).

Fly tying vise

A tool without which I can’t imagine tying flies and that’s a fly tying vise. Which one to buy only depends on the budget of the individual and also how much time he or she will spend tying the flies.

The most important part of the vise are quality jaws (clamp mechanism). With cheaper vices, rotating flies and streamers is an impossible task, as the vices unwinds after a few rotations around (the rest you can imagine ?).

If you tie only a few flies to the season, a cheaper clamp will be quite enough.

But when tying flies becomes more than just tying a few flies or steamers per season (a few boxes of flies), you should buy a more expensive fly tying holder (as much as your wallet allows), as it will last for years and provide more pleasure in tying flies.

Fly tying kits

The best decision (my opinion) for a beginner fly tiyer is to buy a cheap kit in which you get basically everything you need to get started. When your technique of tying flies progresses and you find that it is necessary to change certain fly tying tools, you buy better and higher quality tools that will last longer.

With this post I have briefly introduced which tools you need to start tying flies. It is important to buy only the necessary tools at the beginning, as too many different techniques can lead to a loss of will to tie the flies.

As I mentioned before, starting to fly flies is pretty much related to cost. The investment in a quality fly tying tool can be quite high and therefore does not mean that your fly tying will be better. When tying flies, all that matters is how many hours you invest in tying flies. It is of no use if you have the best fly tying tool in the world if dust accumulates on them. So think carefully about how much time you plan to invest in tying flies and only then decide what to buy.

Practice makes perfect.

Till next time …

…… tight lines and wet nets!

Author: Marina Kropec

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