Fly Fishing Things

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The ubiquitous path that leads to Fly-Tying.

flyfishingthings.com/renzetti 2000 w-standard c-clampIf you're fishing in the company of a group of fly-fishermen, and one of them (not you) is catching trout faster than the others; the one catching the fish (let's call him Ross) is going to be asked the preverbal question by one of the others (let's call him Bill).  Bill asked: "What-a-ya-using?"  Bill asked this question because he's not catching fish--and he wants too. 

You may have asked this question yourself at one time or other.  Anyway, Ross yells out: "A gold ribbed hare's ear."  Ross doesn't want Bill to know what he's using (that's catching the crap out of fish).  Plus, he doesn't want to start any trouble either by ignoring Bill, and he wants to appear polite.

Now a gold-ribbed-hare's-ear  is a great trout fly pattern, but it is not a catch-all-to-end-all fly pattern, and it is not what Ross is using.  Remember, fishermen are liars! 

Fly-fishing is competitive, and fly fishermen like bragging rights, so they lie about the pattern their using, the size of the fish caught, and where they caught it. 

Fly fishermen are also needlessly selfish. It's not that they don't want others to experience fly-fishing, they do, it's just that they want to ensure that the fish are going to be there when they get back to where it was they caught them in the first place.

The thinking is; "if I tell that yokel what pattern I'm using, the guys going to put it on and start catching trout".  "Not only will I not look as good, but I won't be able to catch as many fish because of the increased fishing pressure.", or something along those lines.

The guy catching the fish (Ross) has figured out what the trout are eating. He's fishing a fly pattern (other than what Bill is fishing) that might be a standard pattern, or one he's tied himself.  If it is a custom tied pattern, (even if he tells you the name of the fly pattern)  it's likely that: (1) you won't have the fly pattern yourself, and (2) you don't recognize the name of the fly pattern, and (3) you switch fly's and start fishing a golf ribbed hares ear (while Ross is laughing his ass off).

This is how we get started tying flies.  You resolve to learn how to tie your own flies (to save your pride among other reasons), so you can be the guy lying, and not the guy being lied to. Necessity is the mother of invention; and convenience is wrapped up  in necessity.

As a fly-fisherman, the more you get into the sport, the more you will come to realize that there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from fooling a trout with a fly that you tied yourself.
flyfishingthings.com/man at the vise tying flies. Like fly-fishing, fly tying is both a skill and an art. I know some tiers that can tie a pattern so exquisitely, that to fish the fly would be akin to destroying a work of art. 

Then there's ummwhaa.  I just tie simply ugly patterns that catch the hell out of fish.

Fly tying is a great form of therapy. I know it is for me. Most serious fly-fisherman tie their own flies.

Here are a few good reasons to do so:
 1. You’ll never be in short supply. 
 2.  You can duplicate a specific insect that may be hatching.  
 3.  Tying flies causes you to pay closer attention to the insect your imitating because it's important to get the proportions correct when tying the fly. 
 4. You can make money selling flies to pay for your fishing trips.
 5.  You can come up with your own secret pattern(s). (I did and I have.)
 6.  It gives you something to do in the winter, or after a day of fishing, or while you wait out a spell of bad weather in your camper.

I’m sure there are additional reasons, but this gives you the idea.

I'm not going to go into all the intricacies of fly-tying here; that's a book in itself. There are many very good books that will teach you how to tie flies step by step.

On this page I 'm passing along some of the things you should think about, that I've learned in over 10 years of commercial fly tying, before you start tying your own flies.

Here they are:

Here’s a complete list of equipment and tools you'll need to begin fly tying:


   Click any picture to enlarge.   To purchased from Cabela's or Orvis


What it is used for.


Fly tying book

Get a book that will teach you the basic techniques of  fly tying. 

flyfishingthings.com/book "Production Fly Tying". 


The vise should be a rotating vise with an extended thread holder.
See important additional comments on vises click here.



I recommend at least two pairs:  one for trimming, and another for cutting hair.
Wiss clip is the scissors shown. I still tie with a pair like this because you don't have to lay them down. It saves time when you're tying.


Whip finisher

Used to quickly tie off the fly when finished.

flyfishingthings.com/whip finisher

Hair stacker

Used to stack hair so that the tips are even.

flyfishingthings.com/hair stacker

Hackle pliers

Used to hold and wrap hackle. You need at least two: one for standard hackle and one for tiny flies.

flyfishingthings.com/hackle pliers


Used to pick out or manipulate small parts of the fly.



It holds the thread spool. Most tiers will have more than three. Each is loaded with a different thread which saves time by not having to switch threads with only one bobbin.



Used to make the thread sticky so the dubbing will stick to the thread.

flyfishingthings.com/dubbing wax

Head cement

When fished tying the fly use a drop to cement the tying thread to the hook,

flyfishingthings.com/head cement


Used to tie the fly.  Come's in different types, and many colors.


Waste catch bag

An indispensable item, it allows for a place to catch the waste clippings.

flyfishingthings.com/waste bag


A relatively bright light will aid in seeing the fly while it is being tied.


Bobbin threader

Tool that makes threading the bobbin easier and quicker.

flyfishingthings.com/bobbin threader

Dubbing twister

Used to twist dubbing to create a special effect when tied to the fly.

flyfishingthings.com/dubbing twister

Fly storage box(s)

Boxes to organize the tied flies into. Those with many compartments are preferred.

flyfishingthings.com/compartment box


A place to tie flies.

flyfishingthings.com/tying desk

Tool caddie

A piece of equipment that allows for the storage of all the tools in one place for easy access and use.

flyfishingthings.com/tool caddie


A needle like tool used for picking out fur and other parts of the fly.


Fuzzing tool

Basically, this is a rifle bore brush. A great tool to fuzz up a fly.

flyfishingthings.com/bore brush


Can be bought in boxes of quantity of 100 or in packs of 25.



Used to retrieve a dropped hook that either falls onto the floor, or in the catch bag, which, more often than not, may be full of waste clippings.


Butane lighter

Used to burn monofilament to make eyes, or feathers to shape wings, and other such uses.


Close pin

When attached to the bench or table it acts as another pair of hands to hold a feather or any other item of choice.

flyfishingthings.com/wood clothes pin

Flat nose pliers

Used to shape hooks, squeeze down bards, and for many other uses.


Coffee bean grinder

This will serve as a blender to blend dubbing  or to make dubbing material, or to customize the dubbing to an exact color.

flyfishingthings.com/coffee blender

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