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barefoot_t 12-29-2012 03:08 PM

Learning to Tie
I have an interest in learning to tie my own fly's and there seems to be no end to the 'beginners kits' and books on 'how to'. Based on your personal experience, is there a kit you would recommend and why or why why not? What about books on the basics? One better than another?

Thanks for your time,


itchmesir 12-29-2012 03:55 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
Based on what I have learned over the couple years I've been tying now..

1) youtube and the rest of the internet is a better source for learning to tie than a book imho.. a book will have 100s of patterns sometimes.. when in all honesty you only really need a dozen in a range of sizes to get you through a whole season.. and with websites like this one.. and the flytyingforum.. charliesflybox.. etc.. there's no shortage of beginners material out there..

2) Build your own kit.. Don't buy a pre-fab fly tying kit.. they are often filled with sub-par materials... a simple AA Vise($10-20, a couple bobbins($4/ea).. bobbin threader($4.. if you must.. i've never had a use for one).. bodkin($4).. micro tip scissors($10).. whip finisher($5).. hackle pliers($3).. Hair Packer($4).. All that for around $40.. then get some brassie sized gold and silver wire.. dubbing in hares ear, olive, tan, cream, black, orange, caddis green(i suggest FlyTyersDungeon.. super cheap dubbing)... some natural colored Pheasant tail.. Goose Biots in Black, White, and Brown... Peacock Hurl.. Elk Hair.. Ultra Chenille in red and pink... Medium Chenille in black, brown, olive, white.. Marabou in black, brown, olive, white.. Strung rooster hackle in black, brown, olive, white... All that right there will tie you a plethora of simple and highly effective flies

bigjim5589 12-29-2012 07:14 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
I agree partially with the previous post. Most kits contain either tools or materials that may not be the best quality, or even items you'll have a use for.

IMO, buying better quality tools is worth the extra you'll pay, as poor quality tools will often make the learning process difficult. However, that doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive. At bare minimum, you'll need a vise, a good pair of scissors, and a good quality bobbin that has the ceramic inserts. Any additional tools may be useful as you progress, but are not necessities. The vise will be the most costly of the tools, and you'll get many opinions about which is best. Frankly, IMO that will depend on your budget and what type of flies you intend to tie the most, as some vises will be better suited for hooks in a specific size range. Most good vises will hold small hooks, but not all will hold larger sizes well.

Again, IMO, it's a good idea if possible to try a few different vises before you decide which to buy. That will require going to a shop that has them & sitting down & trying them out. That's also a good way to get some instruction to get you started.

As for buying materials, I disagree with itchmesir about what to buy. All of the materials he's suggested will most likely end up in your collection, but to start tying, it's best to start only with the hooks & materials for specific patterns. This way you won't be spending a great deal of money & will be tying flies you can use, at least that's the idea. You have not mentioned what type of fishing you intend to be doing, which will also make a difference in materials selection.

For me, I have a huge collection of materials, as I've been tying for many, many years. But, I'm primarily a saltwater & warmwater angler & rarely fish for trout, and even though I have the materials to tie trout flies, it's not something I need to have for the majority of the fishing I do. As an example, if you'll be fishing for bass, there's little need to have such things as expensive genetic dry fly hackle, at least not until you're ready to pursue tying dry flies & possibly trout fishing. Not that you can't use dry flies for other species than trout, but there are other pattern types & less expensive materials that can be utilized at this point in your tying that will work just as well. Example: A foam bodied fly tied with a few turns of cheap hackle will catch plenty of panfish, and be far less costly than that $50 dry fly cape. You can get foam in most craft shops for less than $2 a sheet.

I won't make a specific recommendation on a vise, but will on both scissors & a bobbin. Griffin makes a couple of very good bobbins with ceramic inserts, the type depending on what type of flies you'll be tying, and Dr Slick markets some very good quality scissors. There are others, but I have used these & can recommend them. :)

Liphookedau 12-29-2012 07:35 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
Hi Thomas Welcome.
This Subject comes up occassionally.
You - Tube is Great,especially Davie Mc Phail as well as many others.
As mentioned Fly Tying Kits contain materials hardly ever used,just buy The Materials you need to Tie The Patterns you need,the main thing is to have a reasonable Vyce,preferably a Rotary,there are some on Ebay which are quite reasonably priced as well as some good Tools which also don't have to be Top Shelf.
I Find The $2 Shops a Good Place to Pick up good quality materials.
I Buy Materials & Hooks mainly from The US & UK.

latshki 12-29-2012 08:29 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
for a vise I suggest getting a regal knock off from ebay, I know some accomplished tiers that swear by them, and for 30 bucks they are worth every cent. I think they are called an mkII or something

For the other tools, I suggest going into a shop and asking, they'll hook you up.

itchmesir 12-29-2012 09:05 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
Let me add if you do buy one book.. May I suggest "Fly Tying With Common Household Materials" By Jay "Fishy" Fullum.. This book will help you become a little more "creative" in your tying by learning what you can use to substitute the sometimes over-prices fly tying materials

pa dave 12-29-2012 09:12 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
I started out with a kit, and I agree with the can do better piecing a kit together. None the less, I used that kit for some time and I still use many of the tools. Look at what is included in the average kit, then watch a number of videos on tying to see if any of them are rarely used, or if there are ones that are used regularly that aren't in the average kit. The big disappointment was the tying materials, which where scant and very poor quality. If you live close to a fly shop and have easy access to supplies, only buy what you need for a particular pattern or three that you want to tie, and go back for more when needed. If you have to drive an hour, or have to rely on internet suppliers, you may want to do a bit of research to make sure you don't end up ordering again in a week. Of course, with the price of gas and the low weight of the materials, shipping could well be less that the gas needed to go to the shop. Personally, I like to see them first and you can only do that at the fly shop, and I like to use my local shop as much as possible...or I did before they closed up.

There are great websites for fly recipes and YouTube videos are great. One I'd recommend searching for is David Cammiss. He has a number of lessons done for various skill levels. Books can be really frustrating because you see what each step looks like, but seeing it done is much easier to follow.

lthrnk03 12-29-2012 11:35 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
I am going to "buck the system" on this one. Last year I bought the Orvis tying kit and really enjoyed it. Granted I outgrew the vise fairly quickly, but it had a lot of materials and good book with it.

Fly-Tying Tool Kit for Beginners / Orvis Fly-Tying Kit with Manual -- Orvis

The case that it comes in is not what is shown on the site. But for a starter kit....I found it to be a great kit.

dean_mt 12-29-2012 11:41 PM

Re: Learning to Tie
I echo bigjim; buy decent tools to start and avoid the kit. I tied for many many years with one bobbin, it's all you need to start. You just have to change spools more often, but it didn't bother me for a long time. So get a decent one, but I also don't think it has to have a ceramic insert, my original SS bobin is still in use. Good scissors are important, period. But be sure to pick a pair that feel good in your hand. You'll only get this by going to a store and "trying on" different styles, there are many styles! Long, short, one loop, open loop, curved...I like a short pair that I can wear over my middle finger and hold in my palm while I'm tying and just stick my thumb into when I need it. If you get into the habit, it saves time from constantly setting them down, picking them up, setting them down...where are they!

Materials: It is wise to choose a few beginner patterns and buy the materials for those. If you walk into a fly shop and tell the dude there that you are just starting and need materials they will light up and you'll end up at the register with $100 worth of stuff!

A basic dubbing box with a dozen colors is and beginner hackle pack which usually has two half capes in grizzle and brown or some other two basic colors is a good start for trout flies.

Books v Internet: now the real war begins! I think it is good to have a book or two that explains techniques, materials, tools, and basics of tying. There are so many great videos of guys tying great flies but very few that explain some of the basics of tying, of how materials works, etc. You may end up learning bad habits because when watching a pro tie flies it looks easy, but if they say "use a soft loop to hold this in place..." and two seconds later they are onto the next step you don't even know what just happened. And a basic tying manual will help you decide on the patterns you should start tying to learn the basic step - which goes back to helping you choose which materials to buy first - instead of jumping into patterns that are over your head because they look great on the video.

I like Dave Hughes a lot when it comes to tying instruction and theory. I whole-heartedly recommend looking for a basic manual by him. Al Engle is great as well, and Al Beatty is good too. I still buy tying books, I love them. And if you continue to tie you'll want a library of your own anyway.

I do also watch tying videos and I think these guys: Practical Patterns on Vimeo make some of the very best, Davie McPhail aside.

Good luck!

williamhj 12-30-2012 12:14 AM

Re: Learning to Tie
Here are a few old threads where people discuss some of these issues. Despite the fact I posted in the threads there's some good info in them ;)

Newb questions
Beginner Tying Questions
Tying Kit?
Considering Tying

I didn't read through all the posts again, but I think you'll find the information there helpful. By all means keep asking questions as they arise, and :welcomean to the forum

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