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Thread: New to Tying

  1. Default New to Tying

    Im fishing small Tennessee streams where I have in past caught nice Smallmouth bass using spinning gear. Now I'm in the streams with my fly rod and not doing too bad. Ive begun tying closure minnows which have been pretty simple.
    Ive been trying to wrap hackle but the feathers im using Im sure arent meant for that purpose (turkey ive shot during the season).
    When I go to BPS for materials instead of asking (imagine) I look at the wall of all the stuff and leave empty handed. I saw this cape for $30.00 and something that looked similar for about $6.00.
    Well the turkey is too stiff and doesn't fan very well and when I watch videos of a fly being ties it appears like when the hackle is being wrapped it "complies" and gets about the shank in good form.
    What should I ask for at the store?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: New to Tying

    Hey TN Tom. I just joined the site and see that no one has responded to your post--- Hope this might be helpful, and not too late…

    The $30 cape sounds about right for a decent dry fly neck. The $6 neck is probably a hen neck, which would be good for wet flies with “webby” (not stiff ) barbs, but not for dry flies. Dry fly hackle has improved a lot in the last 10 years or so--- birds are bred for round thin stems and consistent stiff, uniform length barbs on the feathers. You can get good dry fly hackle on both rooster necks (capes) and saddles.

    It would be worth your while to find a fly shop in your area if there is one around and consider joining a local chapter of an org like Trout Unlimited or Federation of Fly Fishers--- most have tying classes, or at the very least guys/gals that would be happy to help you out, and it will take years off your learning curve.

    To start out, I’d suggest learning to tie some easy nymphs, like the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear and Pheasant Tail Nymphs on size 12 and 14 nymph hooks like Mustad 9671. This will help teach you dubbing and thread handling , the materials are inexpensive, and no matter how ugly they look, they’ll probably catch fish. You can add some simple wet flys like Partridge and Orange, and Flymphs on the same hooks.

    Once you’ve got the hang of those, move up to dry flies. I’d try to find 2 half necks for about $30. Many fly shops are willing to split necks, though big box stores may not. I’d try and get ½ neck of Grizzly (black and white striped feathers) and a ½ neck of brown. The necks will have feathers that tie a range of sizes 10 – 20. Saddles are also good, but they tend to tie flies in a narrow size range. At this point you’ll want some dry fly hooks like Mustad 94840 and a pair of Hackle Pliers ($2 or so), and a box of assorted dry fly dubbing ($12). Learn to tie Adams and Elk Hair Caddis. If you can tie those, you can vary size and color to match most of the stuff you’ll see on stream.

    There are a lot of resources on the web too. Google beginning fly tying and you’ll see all kinds of stuff that will be helpful to get you started, and a very good beginning book is “Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple”.

    Hope this helps, good luck!

  3. #3

    Default Re: New to Tying

    TnTom, it all is in what feathers you are keeping from the turkeys. You do have to keep an eye on how thick the main shaft of the feathers are that you are keeping. A shaft from the wing, tail and some flank feathers are too stuff or too thick to work very well. On the other hand, some smaller feathers from the back, upper neck, and head I have found to be too thin and dont work. I often keep some of the flank, chest, and a select few from the back. These often times are much easier to use. Other problems is not enough color or too much of that poofy stuff found on some feathers near the base. Often when you find feathers in the store they are flank, chest, wing, and tail. Each can be used for something differant. I find the chest of pheasants and grouse to be the best for spinning on small hooks for dry flies and some streamers. To give you a better idea on what feathers to keep from the keys you shoot, head to any fly store or even go onto cabelas and look over what feathers they have, this should give you a good idea on what to look for. Remember match the feather to what it will be used for.
    <*))))>< Fish with teeth ... If I ty it a fish will hit it

  4. Default Re: New to Tying

    There is a great deal of difference in hackle (rooster - hen, neck - saddle, etc.). I have purchased $5 Chinese and they work well on wet flies but there is a lot of waste. I have also purchased Metz (the best - engineered chickens for fly feathers) for up wards to $50 for tying dry flies and found more usable feathers. Since I am not a wealthy man I still buy both.

    When I started tying, I would say I need some materials, then I would go and buy some materials. When I got home and wanted to tie something, I had the wrong color, size or was missing materials. I still have materials I purchased 10 years ago and never used. Expensive lesson.

    The question is, what do you want to tie? Look at a book or 3 or go online and select some flies you want to tie, write down a list of materials and then go to the shop. A good book will tell you what you need as far as quality. A good rule of thumb is for dry flies, use the best you can get. If you are still not sure, post which fly you want to tie on this site and ask if you can use the cheap feather.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Monroe, Michigan

    Default Re: New to Tying


    If you're tying dries another option for hackle would be one of the Whiting 100 packs. The package contains enough hackle to tie a 100 or more flies. The downfall on these is they're all one size.

    Saddles can be a good pick, you get usable feathers for dries in a few more sizes and you also get some feathers you can use for buggers down near the lower section.

    If you're strictly tying wets, you can get a lot of use out of hen backs. If you hunt as it sounds like you do; save those feathers from the grouse you shoot, they're great for soft hackles.


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