Thread: Fly tying tools
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:01 PM
peregrines peregrines is offline
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Default Re: Fly tying tools

Congrats Tracker-- as Jimmie said the HMH Spartan is a great vise.

Depending on what you'll be tying your tools could vary a bit, but here's some suggestions for tools

Scissors: at a minimum, an inexpensive pair of 3 1/2"-4" long "fingernail scissors" with a fine point (and tips that actually line up) would be good about $5-- and you may have a pair already lying around the house. Better would be a pair of Dr Slick or Anvil $14-20. It's also a good idea to keep a cheapo pair of scissors on hand for cutting hair, bucktail and other stuff that tends to dull blades and saving the better pair of scissors for fine work.

Bobbin- avoid cheap imports-- least expensive, but decent would be a metal tube bobbin from Griffin for about $7--- you might want a couple of these for spools of different color thread. Ceramic tube bobbins by Griffin at $13, and others like Tiemco, Wasatch, Matarelli, Dr Slick etc. are a bit more expensive at around $18-20+. In all likelihood you'll eventually end up with a bunch of bobbins. If bucks are an issue, one thing you could do is start out with a couple of the decent metal tube ones, and use them for everything. Then add a ceramic bobbin once in awhile down the road, and move you most used sizes and colors (or thinnest most likely to break sizes) to ceramic bobbins and the less often used colors to the metal ones.

Bodkin- for freeing trapped hackle barbs, applying head cement and a lot of other uses, any import $2

"English" style hackle pliers for wrapping feathers around the shank, any import $2

Hair Stacker- if you're tying large saltwater or bass flies you can align hair by hand, but if you're tying trout stuff you'll want one for aligning tips of hair for wings on dry flies like Elk Hair Caddis etc. Preferably brass tube double ended (for different sized flies) about $12-20

Other stuff that's useful

Bobbin threader- any import $2

Whip finisher - Matarelli $18 or "Matarelli style" import $6-10. You should learn to whip finish by hand, but a tool can be very convenient. (google "Matarelli whip finisher You Tube" to see how to use it.

Hackle Gauge- this fits on the stem of your vise and is convenient for "sizing" hackle for different sized hooks. They have a series of concentric rings, and you bend a feather's stem around a pin to see which ring the barbs of hackle fall to size the feather to different hooks. Most also have a quick gauge to size different hooks too. There are several on the market, but the "Hook and Hackle Gauge" from Griffin $5 is inexpensive and has been around for a zillion years.

Plastic grocery bag- slip one handle over the vise and now you have a handy place to drop clippings and fluff so it doesn't get all over the place. This of course is free. (You could also spend $20 or so on a more elegant, specially designed product like the "Waste Trol" that fits on the stem of your vise, and may want to down the road at some point, but for now you may want to spend money on materials.)

There are tons more specialized tools to consider down the road depending on what you're tying, but these are the basics.

As far as thread, it'll depend on what you're tying a bit-- with bigger flies like bass and saltwater stuff using stronger thread, and smaller stuff like trout flies using thinner thread.

Realize that although a higher "ought number" ("6/0", "8/0", "12/0" etc) theoretically means a thinner thread diameter within any given manufacturer's line (Uni 8/0 is thinner than Uni 6/0) the "ought" labels from different brands (Danville, Uni etc) aren't directly comparable--- for example a Danville 6/0 is closer in thickness and breaking strength to a Uni 8/0 than a Uni 6/0.

Assuming you're starting out tying stuff like trout flies, a good choice would be Danville's 6/0 or Uni 8/0 (they're basically the same thickness and strength). This is pretty easy to work with and learn on--- after you've tied a bunch of flies for awhile you might want to move on to thinner stuff (with lighter breaking strength) for really small dries, but either would be a good choice to start and both are widely available.

On the other hand if you're tying large saltwater streamers, clousers deceivers etc or are tying stuff that requires a lot of thread torque like spinning deer hair for bass bugs you might want something much stronger like Danville's Flat Waxed Nylon.

Good luck! Hope this helps.
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Last edited by peregrines; 12-10-2010 at 02:24 PM.
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