Fly Tying Essentials: Basic Fly Tying Tools and Materials

Fly Tying Essentials: Basic Fly Tying Tools and Materials

When starting with fly tying you will need  fly tying basic tools and materials. Here is a list of  essential tools like vise, bobbin holders, hackle pliers, hackle gauges,hair stackers, scissors and tweezers. work lights and magnifying glass to better see the fly as it is tied. .Other optional tools are pliers,  dubbing twisters,whip finishers and bobbin threaders,  

Fly tying material can be anything used to construct a fly on a hook. Traditional materials were threads, yarns, furs, feathers, hair, tinsels, cork, balsa and wire. Today's materials include not only all sorts of natural and dyed furs, hair and feathers, but also a wide array of synthetic materials. Rabbit, mink, muskrat, fox, bear, squirrel, deer, elk, and moose hair and other furs are commonly incorporated into artificial flies.  Here are  some of the  basic tools and materials we need for fly tying.

1. Vise

Vises are used to hold the hook when tying on materials. They come in various forms and may be clamped to a table or come with their own stand. The vise has a jaw used to hold the hook. On some vises, the jaws will rotate to assist in wrapping material on the hook in a uniform manner.

flying vise
bobbin holder

2. Bobbin holder. 

The bobbin holder, commonly referred to as just "bobbin", is used to hold the thread bobbin when wrapping thread around the hook. The bobbin holder provides tension so that it can be released when the fly tyer is performing other tasks, such as wrapping hackle.

3. Hackle pliers. 

Hackle pliers are used to hold the end of a hackle when wrapping the hackle onto the hook. 

Hackle pliers
 Hackle gauge

4. Hackle gauge. 

 Hackle gauges are used to select hackle for given size hook and to measure hook sizes.

5. Hair stackers.  

Hair stackers are concentric tubes of different diameter with one tube having a bottom. The stacker is usually made of a heavy metal like brass. The bottom of the stacker with hair inserted is pounded on a table a couple of times to help in aligning the hairs before they are pulled out of the stacker while in a horizontal position.

Hair stackers
Scissors & Tweezers

6. Scissors & Tweezers. 

Small pointed and sharp tying scissors are used to cut fly tying material. A second set of scissors or plyers are used for cutting wire and heavy materials that would easily dull the tying scissors. 

7. Whip finishers.

 A whip finisher is a tool for tying the thread around the hook that secures the thread in place.

Whip finishers

8. Dubbing

Dubbing is made of hair or synthetic material that is ground up and applied to the outside of thread. The dubbing can be fine for small dry flys or coarse. Sometimes, dubbing wax is used in moderation to assist in applying the dubbing fibers to the thread. The dubbing adds color and bulk to the fly and sometimes gives it a buggy look with coarse dubbing. Fly Tying Dubbing Materials like hare fur, squirrel fur, seal fur and more

9. Dubbing twister. 

A dubbing twister is used to apply dubbing to two strands of thread. It has a handle and two wires to hold the thread loop apart. 

dubbing twister

10. Hooks.

The hook determines the basic size and shape of each fly and is generally an important part of any fly pattern description.  There are barbless hooks and barbed hooks. Hooks come in a wide range of size, shape, length and weight, and must be selected to complement the pattern being tied and the method by which it will be fished.

11. Thread

Fly tying thread comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Most modern fly tying thread is made of nylon or polyester. Special use thread may be made of gel-spun polyethylene (GSP), Kevlar, silk, or even Monofilament fishing line. The size of the thread is measured in either denier or aughts.


 12. Wire

Wire can be wrapped before materials are added or after you tie in feathers or fur. A spectrum of colors and sizes will fit any fly and give that nymph a little extra shine in the water. 

13. Biots

A biot is sturdy, tapered fiber from a goose or turkey wing feather. Commonly, it is used in fly patterns to imitate tails, wings, bodies, legs or antennae. Natural biots are white or brown but they also died a variety of colors.

Feathers  Hackle

14. Feathers / Hackle

The long feathers of the neck of poultry are referred to as hackle. Rooster/hen neck and saddle hackle, so essential for many artificial fly patterns, are from animals especially bred to produce hackles of superior performance, size and color. Hackle and feathers are sold individually or as a saddle, cape, wing, or tail section. Feathers from other birds are also used in fly tying, including coot, CDC, Duck, goose, grouse, guineafowl, jackdaw, bluejay, magpie, mallard, moorhen, partridge, pheasant, quail, snipe, starling, Eurasian teal, turkey, and woodcock. 

fly tying basic tools and materials