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Old 04-02-2012, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

I'll adjust what I said to include that when you start, you'll be buying all sorts of materials, which can be costly. But, regarding one of RipTide's recent posts, you can also find and cure your own materials.
However, that rooster pelt will probably have enough feathers on it to make hundreds of flies.
Initial investment for sure, but after you are stocked up things last a while.
Mostly just buying hooks, beads, and the occasional new dubbing at this point...
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:51 PM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Chalk up my vote on the side of "stay away from kits."

In my own experience (lesson learned) tying kits are long on flash, and short on quality. When talking to people that want to get started I always recommend getting a quality vise first off, followed by quality tools. Then make a list of the flies you most often use – and lose – and start building your cache of hooks/material based on those needs.

I would also echo the comments of others here… if doing it to save money on flies, forget it. Maybe you'll break even 30-40 years down the road? I'm quite sure I am still "in the red" if I compared cost of materials versus flies tied.

The biggest advantage of tying your own flies, is that you will be 100% in control of your own supply and demand, and also 100% in control of the quality of your flies. Also, you can "tweak" existing patterns to match the naturals on your local waters. Eventually you will be developing your own patterns altogether.

I have been tying all of my own flies for the past 20+ years and see a definite difference in the quality of my ties versus the average store-bought brand, but also fully understand the reasoning behind tying a dozen, tight, quality flies for myself versus "banging out a thousand" for a fly shop… and I would have to do the same thing.

Local shops and outdoor shows are great resources. Even doing it as long as I have, I still learn new techniques all the time just by watching others tie. Also, you may want to look into tying classes to you get started… most fly shops or local TU Chapters offer those as well.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Angelo-- what kind of fish will you be chasing? In NJ folks might tie saltwater flies for stripers or the more common freshwater (trout) stuff.

It probably doesn't make too much difference in terms of tools you'll need, except for a vise with jaws that can handle large size saltwater hooks, but in terms of materials of course it'll make a big difference.

Trying to figure out the best way to start tying comes up a lot on the forum and there's no easy answer--

For folks on a tight budget or who aren't sure they'll be interested in sticking with tying and just want to try it out a kit might be the way to go. That's how many of us (including me) started. Generally the $50 kits might have enough hooks and materials to tie a few flies in each of 12 different patterns. The vise is usually a very inexpensive Asian import that's poorly machined with soft metal jaws. Hooks eventually tend to wobble a bit in the jaws in fairly short order, and the need to adjust the jaws to accept different size hooks soon turns into the need to adjust the jaws to hold the same size hooks. The quality of imported tools included in kits is also generally poor. For some tools (bodkin, bobbin threader) it doesn't matter much. So what you get in a kit is fine for them. But some other tools, notably scissors and the thread bobbin, are much more important and the quality included in most kits is usually poor. In all likelihood you'll want to upgrade a vise ($100+), scissors ($15-20) and bobbin ($7-20) pretty soon. Some of the materials may be OK but in very limited quantities, and you'll be buying more soon anyway.

If you think you're going to stick with tying, it might be better to buy a things individually. A hi quality no frills vise with a lifetime guarantee typically runs $120-180, hi quality basic tools ($30-60) and materials to tie 2-3 patterns.(varies but figure around $30 or so for a couple beginner patterns). Vises and tools will last a lifetime. And the materials you buy to tie basic patterns will tie tons of flies and build up your inventory of stuff used to tie other patterns. After that it becomes a question of adding more materials as you move on to additional patterns.

There are some intermediate approaches- for example buying a less expensive and less durable vise for around ($40-80) but many who start there end up purchasing a more expensive vise after a short time eventually.

Maybe the best thing to do if you haven't seen anyone tie, is to see if there's a local fly shop or fly fishing group around. There are about 12 Trout Unlimited chapters in NJ-- most have beginning tying classes at some point in the year and virtually all have informal tying get togethers or demonstrations. It's a great way to get started. You can get contact info for local TU chapters here: Council/Chapter Contacts | Trout Unlimited - Conserving coldwater fisheries

Good luck and keep asking questions
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Thanks all for your answer. I think before I buy anything is wait later on or til I found a tying lesson or group. I'am on a tight budget that's why I was looking at tying kit's for 50-80 dollars. I mainly freshwater fish. Looking for places where I can get the most for less since I want to learn. I always liked customizeing thing's myself I have wonderful idea's for some great bass and panfish flies in my head. I do have more ?'s. The dubbing how long does that usually last for. Exactly for what is it? Feather's how long does that last? The hackles how much do you get how many flies can you tie? You understanding that I'am to understanding the long does the material usually last's for? How many flies are you able to tie? I want the satisfaction of a fish nailing my fly that I made myself using my own pattern's.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:02 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Angelo, as stated in my thread on this, a kit will get you started and will work for a while, yes, the experts are correct, you will at some point want a better vice, and upgraded bobbin and scissors if you stick with it, but you can tie a lot of flies with a 50-80 dollar kit. If I had not started with my kit (given to me by a friend), I would have missed out on a lot of tying and fishing enjoyment. Yes, you may have to ugrade a few items in a year or so, but, that is how it is in life sometimes.

A kit vs high end vices, tools etc is kind of like using the jack that came with the car, or a lift, both will work, the factory jack is your "kit" jack, does not have any bells and whistles, and eventually it will wear out. The lift costs a lot more and will last a lot longer and can rotate, and do all kinds of neat things, it is what a lot of us wish we had in our garages, I just can't afford it so I use the car jack and it still works.

Your idea to find a class is a great idea, the other way to get good at a fly is to tie a lot of them - i.e. join one of our fly swaps or do the tie-along and tie at least a dozen of any pattern you decide to tie.

Dubbing last a while, I have a $20 Dave Whitlock SLF dubbing pack that I have had for over a year, a couple of the dozen squares are getting thin and will need to be refilled, but, dubbing is a few bucks a package and you don't use much on each fly. Dubbing is used to create bug bodies or thorax's (the front of the body), and sometimes to make little fuzzy heads. how long feathers are going to last, depends on how many and what size you tie. a hundred pack of feathers will tie about 100 flies. a half cape will tie several hundred and give you a few size variations.

There is nothing like the satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly you tied, expecially if it is a variation you have developed.

as always, my opinions/advice are based on my own experiences and YMMV.

Best to you whichever way you choose to go.

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Old 04-04-2012, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Things last as long as they last. It depends on how much you use and what you tie
I have some materials that are at least 35 years old, but I buy white saddle hackle every year

Dubbing is mostly for the furry fly bodies... (see the thread on roadkill )
If you're balking at the price of chicken necks (genetic hackle) you can buy just the size feathers that you'll use.
I don't own all that many necks myself. Certainly not every color, and they not all high end either
There are no "fly police" You don't have to follow recipes to the "T". You're free to make substitutions. If a fly calls for coachman brown hackle and you only have grizzly........
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

"I want the satisfaction of a fish nailing my fly that I made myself using my own pattern's. "

Angelo, sounds like you are really going to like tying your own. I just started tying last summer after I had foot surgery, and it has changed they way I fish and produced some really nice fish.
For me, the truest test of my flies is to take them to one of Colorado's incredibly crowded and overly pressured waters, and to try them on the most educated fish.
Taken on a home made leech(dream stream):
Click the image to open in full size.
home made mysis(frying pan):
Click the image to open in full size.
home made crayfish(local ponds):
Click the image to open in full size.

If you get my drift, I'm catching all of my best fish on my own patterns.
Break the store bought fly addiction... in my opinion it is worth the investment.
plus, then you can do fly swaps and learn from others' patterns.
my canyon hoppers:
Click the image to open in full size.
personal selection of nymphs:
Click the image to open in full size.

Aside from building your own rod, it is just the next step in being well rounded as an angler. The hopper above was my answer to the store bought versions that were getting denied; a real snake charmer!
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Old 04-05-2012, 01:38 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Thank all for your advice and knowledge. I'll be tying panfish flies to trout flies, dry and wet flies. Hopper's and ant's bee's. nymph's to sometime's wooly buggers. I do have more to ask. What tool's are a must. Im looking at my cabela catalog seeing what thing's i need. But the tool's I don't know. What kind of scissors, bobbin, Glue, cement, Pilers. something called C-Clamps I think. I just trying to get a more better sense what I need. I will be getting a Dvd on fly tying.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:57 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo1987 View Post
I want the satisfaction of a fish nailing my fly that I made myself using my own pattern's.
I got the opportunity to feel that satisfaction for the first time last night, and it was my first fly-caught trout! The feeling is exhilerating!

A tying class will be a huge help to you, Angelo, but don't put off self-learning, while waiting for a class to start somewhere. Pick-up a copy of Charlie Craven's Basin Fly Tying
Amazon.com: Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying: Modern Techniques for Flies That Catch Fish (9780979346026): Charlie Craven: Books Amazon.com: Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying: Modern Techniques for Flies That Catch Fish (9780979346026): Charlie Craven: Books
, the Orvis Fly Tying Giuide, or Fly Tying MAde Clear and Simple by Skip Morris. (I prefer Craven's book over the other two, but all three have good material in them.) Start to work through some of the step-by-step instructions in these books, and you'll soon develop some proficiency. There are also NUMEROUS YouTube videos that provide great instruction.

While initially getting started, there are some "kits" that provide instructions and enough material for 5 or 6 flies of a single pattern. I've seen these in Gander Mountain, LL Bean, and in some fly shops. I know others that like using these kits, though I never did. I prefer to research and buy the materials that I needed, accumulating "extras" along the way. You buy a pack of 25 hooks, tie 6 or 7 of a pattern that you want, and now you have a supply of that size hooks for the next pattern that you find and want to try, and the materials build-up that way.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Thinking about trying to tie my own flies

Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo1987 View Post
Thank all for your advice and knowledge. I'll be tying panfish flies to trout flies, dry and wet flies. Hopper's and ant's bee's. nymph's to sometime's wooly buggers. I do have more to ask. What tool's are a must. Im looking at my cabela catalog seeing what thing's i need. But the tool's I don't know. What kind of scissors, bobbin, Glue, cement, Pilers. something called C-Clamps I think. I just trying to get a more better sense what I need. I will be getting a Dvd on fly tying.
Tools, GOOD QUALITY TOOLS, are the most important investment you will make. You can start with a less expensive vise and then as your skills improve, upgrade the vise as this is your largest expense. Likely you'll want to start with a stationary vise, either a c-clamp style (clamps to a table top) or a pedestal. Different opinions on this, but for me, a pedestal vise with a base gives you more versatility. After you gain some experience you will want either a better stationary vise or maybe a rotary vise. A DECENT inexpensive vise will run you around $50.

Don't skimp on your scissors, and you'll need two pair. One with fine tips (either Dr. Slick, Thompson ICE, or Gingher embroidery scissors) and one larger pair for cutting wire and bulky materials (Fiskars from a craft/sewing shop work well). Your fine scissors may be $20, larger pair $5-6.

Buy a bobbin with a ceramic insert, it keeps you thread from fraying and is easier to use overall. You may decide to invest in multiple bobbins later or one of the new-fangled varieties, but a simple ceramic bobbin will serve you well. A ceramic will run you $8-10.

Hackle pliers aren't a must, but they help. You can buy a rather plain pair with one metal and one rubber jaw and later you might decide to upgrade to a rotating pair, which can be handy. The plain ones are cheap, the rotating can be $15-20.

Head cement? Lots of tyers are happy with Sally Hansen's "Hard as Nails" clear polish. You can either cut the brush tip at an angle to get a finer point, or replace the brush with a straight pin. You cut the brush off the shaft, remove pin head with a wire cutter, heat it and insert it in the stem where the brush was. About $3 a bottle.

You might also want to invest in a bodkin- you can make one, but commercial ones aren't expensive. Get one that has at least one flat side on the body so it doesn't roll around on your tying surface. About $6-8.

Whip finisher, you SHOULD learn how to tie this knot by hand and early on, you might get by using a couple of half-hitches to tie off flies, but most tyers own one. Around $15. Here's a good animation of how to hand-tie a whip finish t r o u t f l i e s . c o m (Harry Mason's site has a ton of excellent tutorials)

As for a DVD, there are TONS of videos on line and there are step-by-step (SBS) tutorials all over the place too... but there's no substitute for sitting with other tyers and seeing it in real life. And if you want the best seat in the house, ask someone if you can either stand or sit BEHIND THEM when they're tying... then you get the proper perspective.

Next is thread- 6/0 or 8/0 black will do most of what you want. There are two primary types of thread "round" thread (a wrapped core) and "flat" multi-fiber thread that you allows you to spin the bobbin to make it a tighter strand or counter-spin the bobbin to let the thread lay flat. I'd suggest UniThread, Gudebrod or UTC for your round and Flymaster for your flat. If you're gonna buy one spool, get the round.

Then hooks... think about the types of fish you're going to be tying for and the styles of flies you're going to tie. This will help you select sizes and styles of hooks. The primary types are Dry fly (fine wire standard length shank), Nymph (heavy wire, 2xl or 3xl shank), Stimulator/Hopper (med wire, 2xl curved shank) and scud and streamer... which may come later. If you can make some early determinations, you might be able to buy boxes of 100, which REALLY makes the price per hook lower, but if you can't then go with 25 hook packs. The more popular brands are Tiemco, Daiichi, Dai-Riki, Mustad and the Allen Fly Hooks sold on this site are gaining in popularity with tyers here. My recommendation is select a brand, and stick with it. That way your flies will be consistent.

After that, the madness starts... materials. No sense even starting to go into this on a broad spectrum. No matter what, you WILL NEED hackle- and if you're planning to tie dries and wets, you'll need different types of hackle. The buy-in here is NOT CHEAP... but there are ways to minimize your initial costs. Again, like hooks, you have to give thought to the types and sizes of flies you're going to be tying... then you can decide if you need saddle or neck hackle, or both. And there are different types for dries and wets and tons of different colors. Likely early on, you could get by with brown and grizzly for most flies... and if you have the $$ to spend, a half neck (cape) and half saddle of each is the way to go.

Good luck... but I'm sure you've already learned, until you've tyed at least a dozen dozen, you'll be along way away from saving money
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