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Tracker12 12-09-2010 05:26 PM

Fly tying tools
So now that I have a vise on the way I am going to need some tools. By the way I decided of he HMH Spartan vise. So is there a brand of tools that you would recommend over others. I know that I want a bobin with ceramic but anything else I should make sure I should have. One type sizzors over another. How about thread type and brand.

Jimmie 12-09-2010 05:55 PM

Re: Fly tying tools
Congratulations Tracker. That HMH is a great vise. My mentor who has been tying for 70 years uses one. I've had the honor of tying on it.
Tools are such individual preference. Here's what I landed on after many upgrades. My favs: Anvil Scissors (my mentor doesn't like open finger loops so he uses Dr. Slick); Edgin Hair Stacker; Teimco Bobbins; Uni-Thread (only cause that's what I started using and is readily available at our local Sport's Chalet).

peregrines 12-10-2010 02:01 PM

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.

Tracker12 12-10-2010 05:15 PM

Re: Fly tying tools
Thanks for the detailed post. Good stuff. Don't need to save money on tools so I will try to buy quality without going overboard where it is not needed.

FrankB2 12-11-2010 11:25 PM

Re: Fly tying tools
The HMH Spartan is a really nice vise, and I nearly buy one whenever I see them(!).

In addition to Mark's detailed advice, I'd suggest a head cement dispenser squeeze bottle. Dipping a bodkin/needle into an open jar of head cement gets old fast (STINKS!), and the squeeze bottle allows you to deliver the right amount right where you want it.

Scissors: Dr. Slick in small, medium, and large are dandy.

Bobbin holders: Griffin ceramic

Whip finishing tool: matarelli style and Griffin. I use the Griffin 99.9% of the time.

Stacker: Griffin adjustable

Magnifying lens: Tie for a while, and then buy one. You'll wonder how you ever tied #16 and smaller flies without one! ;) A good light is a something you should invest in immediately.

Mark is correct about the thread. I used to think that 6/0 was plenty small (it is for larger patterns like a wooly bugger, Clousers, spinning deer hair, etc. Tying #14 and smaller wets, nymphs, and drys are best accomplished with 8/0 thread. Even then, don't take a single wrap more than needed. I sometimes come across and older fly, and wonder why I took 57 turns of thread to tie down the smallest thing! Watch Davie McPhail tie flies on YouTube. He inspired me to make a real effort at greatly reducing turns of thread. I've been buying and using 10/0 for the past year, but it can be tough to find.

famill00 12-12-2010 08:36 AM

Re: Fly tying tools
Here is a great kit of Dr. Slick tools on sale at Cabelas.

Dr. Slick Tyer Pack Tool Set, Tools &Vises, Fly-Tying, Fly-Fishing, Fishing :

Tracker12 12-13-2010 06:38 AM

Re: Fly tying tools
Plan on getting on-line and picking up a few tools this week. Anyone have a site that has good prices and selections.

FrankB2 12-13-2010 02:41 PM

Re: Fly tying tools
Hmmmm.....Dr. Slick scissor prices have gone up quite a bit since I bought my last pair, but they last forever. I should have mentioned that all of my bobbin holders are Griffin except for one Dr. Slick holder. The Dr. Slick holder desn't accept a threader as well as the Griffin holders, but maybe mine is an exception: the threader gets hung up on the ceramic edge, but that's never happened with a Griffin. Speaking of bobbin threaders, some famous tyer said he uses dental floss threaders for his bobbin holders, so I bought a pack. They work great, and I've been using the same one for well over a year.

J. Stockard or Cabelas would seem to be a good starting point for tool prices. I don't know if anyone is going to discount the good stuff too much, so the local shop might be worth a try. Cabelas shipping charges make me a bit crazy: the more you spend, the more they charge! Since Leland Outfitters advertises here, give them a shot as well. They seem to have about everything. Actually, Leland has a "Beat It by 10%" guarantee. ;)

P.S. Leland ships for FREE!!!!

Tracker12 12-13-2010 06:20 PM

Re: Fly tying tools
Thanks Frank! I find myself looking for free shipping when I buy these days. Seems that the prices on individual tools are pretty much the same at most places. I will check Lelands I bought a rod from them and they have very good service.

By the way there is a bunch of different Dr Slick scissors which one to start with?

MoscaPescador 12-13-2010 10:53 PM

Re: Fly tying tools

Originally Posted by Tracker12 (Post 178819)
By the way there is a bunch of different Dr Slick scissors which one to start with?

Arrow Scissors, 3.5", straight tip. Great for fine work. I use this style the most because it fits in my hands well.

All Purpose, 4", straight tip. Name says it all.


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