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Thread: Fly Pattern Progression.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Malone, New York
    Blog Entries

    Default Fly Pattern Progression.

    Hello Everyone,
    I just started tying flies a few weeks ago. I really am enjoying it. I work the evening shift and get home around 00:15. Since everyone is sleeping I find my self at the vice each night tying. I only tie 2 maybe 3 flies but I feel that I have to tie them. I started with woolly worms and woolly buggers. I tried a prince nymph and a streamer. I also started some kind of nymph not sure what it is called. I will include a few pics. My question is: Is there a general rule of thumb when it comes to tying flies as to progression? Should I just tie flies that I think that I will use? I live in the North east Adirondacks and I am fishing for Brook trout, Rainbow and Brown trout. The closest fly shop is about an hour away. I would love to take a class but because of my work schedule that is impossible. I am going to try and start a fly tying club in the new year and hopefully I can recruit a few experienced tiers to participate. I have asked Santa for a few books on fly tying. I also watch a lot of you tube videos. I am asking for your advice on what I should be learning next? Sure I could just wing it and tie whatever but I value what you guys have to offer. Thanks. Here are a few things that I have tied so far. Let me know what you think. There are a few flies that I have already posted.

    Thanks Glen.

    "The Fishing was good, it was the catching that was bad"

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Philadelphia Pa

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    These looks good. Since you plan on fishing them, I would tie a variety of patterns you're going to use. Books are good, videos are good. Practice is perfect!

    When you feel you want to take a risk, find something out of your comfort zone and try it. If you dont like it, keep tyin that same pattern until you do like it, then move on.

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.


    You are off to a great start. All the flies you've pictured will catch fish.

    I think the toughest thing to learn as you start out is to get a feel for a sense of proportion. How much dubbing do I need, where do I stop in order to get a nice neat head, etc.

    One thing that really helps develop s sense of proportion is to tie several (maybe 6 - 12) of the same fly, same size. Each one you tie you'll have a little better feel for exactly what you need to do to get the fly to look the way you want it to.

    In terms of what to tie, there are fishers who tie, and tiers who fish (and fishers who don't tie and tiers who don't fish ). If you are primarily interested in stocking up your fly box, tie what you'll be fishing. If you enjoy tying for it's own sake, tie whatever catches your interest.

    That rightmost fly in the second picture is particularity well done. You are off to a great start.

    The more you know, the less you need.

    Tenkara Fly Fishing

    Tenkara Fly Fishing Blog

    "People tend to get the politicians and the fishing tackle they deserve" - John Gierach, Fishing Bamboo

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    I think one derives the most pleasure in using their own ties for fly fishing. As has been stated elsewhere, keep some of the flies being tied now and compare them to what is be tied in the present - in a year or two. Ultimately, it is thy own eye and the judgment of the fish which determines what might be defined as progress...keep this puppy fun !

    Daughter to Father, " How many arms do you have, how many fly rods do you need?"

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  9. #5

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    Yes, tie what you'll use. I found it motivated me to learn more difficult patterns and new techniques. I jumped quickly to tying small dries since they were the flies I enjoyed fishing. Made the learning curve steep but it also motivated me. Even if you only tie flies you use you'll end up with more than you'll fish
    - William

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  11. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    I agree with Eunan about tying what you can use. The flies you've tied will certainly catch fish!

    I started too on my own & back then the only media that featured flies were books, general outdoor magazines & catalogs, so I often had to figure out recipes on my own. The resources available today is amazing. IMO, you need to tie flies that both provides a learning experience, and allows you to try different techniques & covers the water from top to bottom. Having some variety on the water is never a bad idea either IMO.

    You're flies do look good for just beginning & will get better the more you tie. The only advise I can give from what I see is you may be overdressing them a bit, which is a common issue with beginners. However, there's nothing wrong about having some flies more heavily dressed than others. Variety can also be utilized in a single pattern by tying some sparse & some dressed more heavily to various degrees. Also think about it in terms of sink rate. Heavily dressed flies generally sink slower than sparsely tied flies, of course depending on the materials used. You will want some that do both.

    Buggers & Woolly worms are great to start with. You may want to add some basic nymph patterns, and some different surface flies. Try some terrestrials, particularly those tied with foam. They're easy patterns, float well & materials are easily obtained, even at craft shops since you're not close to a fly shop.

    You may also want to try some streamers. Anything you like & perhaps patterns that use materials you may already have or can obtain more easily.
    Searching thru patterns is how I gained additional tying experience & I even tied flies that had little use in my area. However, I also adapted patterns. For example, I tied a lot of Keys style Tarpon patterns, and used them as bass streamers. I also tied simple Steelhead wet fly patterns, and used them for stream Smallmouths. Most of the trout flies I attempted became my arsenal for the local panfishes until I got the opportunity to use them for trout.

    My tying progression took several years, from about age 11 to age 16 but I believe it made me a better tier. Now, at age 58, I can tie just about anything I wish to tie, (and I'm still learning) but only because I tried different things back in my younger days.

    You & other beginning tiers also have the advantage of wonderful sites like this where you can obtain advise & critique to aid in your progression. Keep tying & keep posting, that too will shorten your learning curve.
    Remember, no one likes to be behind the big truck, but that's better than being under it!

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  13. #7

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    I think you are doing great for a beginner!

    Having said that there are areas of improvement that I can see.

    One is not to trim your marabou tails on the wooly buggers. Learn to handle the marabou and tie it in at the correct length.

    Another is not to clip your hackle to shorten it on your flies. I suspect that you are doing this because you do not have hackle of the correct length. I suggest that you buy the correct size hackle or measure your hackle against the hook so you get the sizing right.

    Pay attention to the spacing of your hackle wraps on the body. The purple wooly worm is way too tightly wrapped and it looks to me as if you used two separate hackles, adding a second on at the middle of the fly.

    As some have noted in their posts, fly proportions are very difficult to get right for a beginner. Proportion is using just the right amount of dubbing, distributing it on the fly correctly, and placing other materials like the wing in the correct amount and position on the hook.

    Most beginners use too much dubbing on their dry flies and I think you have done that. Try to use less dubbing and try to get a natural taper to the fly body, thin at back and getting thicker at the thorax.

    If you have to trim a wing or tail because it looks wrong, then you should work on using less material or placing it correctly to in the first place.

    Another problem I see is hook choice. Hooks are the skeleton on which you build the fly. They give the proportion and shape. For dry flies that need to float you need to use a lighter dry fly hook.

    When I started tying flies, I first bought a well tied sample of the fly I was going to tie. Having a 3 dimensional model of what you are going to tie is very helpful. You can compare the amount of material on the various parts of the fly and see exactly where it should be placed.

    My suggestion is to go to a fly shop when you can and tell the owner that you wand to buy a perfectly tied fly to use as a model. Have him choose it for you.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  15. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    S. E. Taxachusetts
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    Given what you can find on the web for video and thing like ant video downloader... books are sort of obsolete. I used to suggest the book I learned on ([ame=""]Fly-Tying: Helen Shaw: 9780941130547: Books@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]). But you can see actually step by steps these days, so learning each step out of a book is just an alternitive at this point.

    As for flies to tie where you are and just beginning. Tie what you think you will need and/or tie the standards and use them until you figure out the local specifics.

    Given that the 'dacs are not so different form western MA where I have fished most of my life, I would strongly suggest you learn a bit about tying basic soft hackles and look into hungarian partridge dyed various shades of olives and browns. (Haven't found much that swims and eats bugs which won't take an olive soft hackle.)
    I'm currently out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message, and if you would like to reach me by phone, please hang up now.

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  17. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Malone, New York
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    Thank you guys so much for the advice. I really value your critique. I will get a few "pro tied flies" and try to match them. Thank you guys again.

    "The Fishing was good, it was the catching that was bad"

  18. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Norwich, CT
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Fly Pattern Progression.

    heres a list of patterns i found online from a beginner fly tying course.

    The Woolly Worm
    The Woolly Bugger
    The Peacock and Partridge
    The Soft Hackle Wet Fly
    The Hare's Ear Nymph
    The Bead Head Pheasant Tail Nymph
    The Mickey Finn
    The Elk Hair Caddis
    The Adams
    The Rusty Spinner
    Poor quality materials and tools are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them.


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