How hard is it?

How hard is it to tye flies? I'm curious there aren't too many great fly shops around where I am and I would love to do it. I'm just wondering if its something everyone (or most) can do...or if it takes a real expert hand.
Natelo -
Generally it is not difficult if you have reasonable dexterity and patience. It can be expensive to gear up for it, and can be frustrating at times when you are learning a new pattern or tying on very small hooks.

I love it - I find it relaxing to do, keeps me thinking about fishing, and keeps me looking for new patterns to try.

Remember that the patterns you see in books and on the web are tied by very experienced tyers - so your initial attempts will not look as nice - but they will catch fish. Don't try for perfection right away, learn the basic steps for the pattern, learn how to best apply materials and get comfortable with your basic skills before worrying about perfection.

I am very happy if my fly meets 85% of the "perfect" look if I can tie it in a short amount of time. Nothing more frustrating then spending 15 minutes on a fly to lose it in a tree on the first cast.

Practice makes you closer to perfect - might take you a few dozen flies to really learn how to tie one pattern well.


Matt Burke

Active Member
I'll back up what surf said. The other aspect of this is that tying is the other half of this sport. It can give you something to do when you can't fish. There is a lot personal satisfaction knowing you caught it on something you tied.

The down side is the money spent putting together your kit. You will never save money tying on your own.

I grew up with it so I've never known one without the other. I can't imagine the greatest American tradition without both aspects. Casting/fishing and tying. It's an obsession from which there is no cure. I hope to die with a rod in one hand and vice in the other.
I love it! Like Surf said, it can be relaxing. After a head-ache of a day at work, an hour or so at the tying bench relieves a lot of stress for me.

To answer your questions, I'd have to agree with Surf again. If your into things such as building model cars or planes, then you obviously already have the dexterity and patience to tie flies. The next thing you will need is at least $100. I started off with a cheap-o $50 tying kit, and found that it was not enough to tie the flies I wanted to tie, and ended up dumping another $50-$100 within the next few months. You might not have a decent fly shop locally, but I'd highly recomend making the drive to a good one, this way you can get the shop owner to put together a kit for you with certain patterns you have in mind to start off with.

Also shop around for a good tying book. The only one I own is "Essential Trout Flies" by Dave Hughes, and it is an excellent book to get someone started. You can also take advantage of fly tying videos at the library!

I'd have to disagree with Matt on the money thing. Although I've put in about $250 in tying materials in just my first year of tying, I've tied maybe 150 flies so far, and it doesn't look like I'll be restocking materials anytime soon.


David Holmes

Formerly known as "capmblade"
Natelo said:
How hard is it to tye flies? I'm curious there aren't too many great fly shops around where I am and I would love to do it. I'm just wondering if its something everyone (or most) can do...or if it takes a real expert hand.
IMHO you can learn much faster if tie with someone else, at least at first. You can learn in seconds how to do the half-hitch and the whip-finish and a million tips and tricks that will move you along quickly. Perhaps there is a local FF club?

Perhaps someone who lives near you will volunteer to school you? Where do you live?

It doesn't take an expert hand to tie some very effective patterns. I prefer simple, easy to tie generic flies myself, mostly because I don't try to match a hatch -- I prefer to fish "buggy" looking flies that could be anything.


Active Member
flytying is awesome. i got both my kids into it and all 5 of my grandkids into it. when the fish are not into it then tie some flies for the next venture. been doing it for just about 50 years. m,ike w


Active Member
2nd everything said allready, I would just add that tying will also give you a better understanding of the food forms the fish species you target. You may be become very adept at tying or you may not but you will read some books and at some level study the insects and aquatic life forms you are trying to imitate- this in turn will add to your fishing abilities immensely.

I hope you do decide to tye and if I can ever answer any questions for you I will do my best.
One of the most encouraging things I've ever read about tying was found in Dick Surette's book, "Trout & Salmon Fly Index".

"If you can tie your shoes, you can tie flies. Some tyers will develop into experts, others to a lesser degree. But all will have enjoyment or satisfaction."


Matt Burke

Active Member

Since your hooked anyway, go check out Ron and crew at the About the Fly in Monroe. They have fly tying areas and tying get togethers all the time.

Moi? "hooked" ??!! I can stop tying when ever I want to.

As a matter of fact, I'm going through a twelve-step program.

The first step involves acknowledging that there are many gods whom you must sacrifice your flies to - namely rock gods and tree gods. The most important diety to accept is the bobbin god. He determines at what critical junction your thread will break during the tying process.

The remaining steps involve buying more hooks, tubing, hackle, dubbing, and tinsel.

The final step includes buying the complete presentation Wasatch tool set and an Able Supreme Vise - without your wife ever finding out about it.

Do you honestly think Ron (and the crew) at 'All about the Fly" would allow me to darken their doors? *g*

Hell, they'll let anyone darken their doors. I was really glad to note that you had reached a point of acceptance in your fly tying. This is truely the first step to recovery in that you can just admit you are powerless to stop whipping out the visa card everytime you walk through the fly tying material isle. I have decided that I'll will die from exposure on the side of the road holding a sign stating, "Help me please, need money for more dubbing, will tie flies for food, I'm a veteran of WFF.COM, God Bless."
I've been tying for about 6 months now, and what I've found to help me get relatively decent at the flies I've tied are getting a good book to help you learn the techniques (in my case, Skip Morris Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple) and the opportunity to watch others tie and being able to see the techniques in action.
iagree with pretty much everything said thus far. So I can only add to it. Flytying, like flyfishing, is only as complicated or indepth as you make it. The same way a guy can go buy one rod and a couple of flies from Wal-Mart and go have a blast, a guy can go buy a cheap vise, and have fun and enjoyment. That said, what you put into it is what you'll get out of it. Gear up, practice, tie for yourself (and not for someone else's approval), try new things and ask questions, and you'll be tying pretty seriously in no time. There is a learning curve, and other things as eyesight, shaky hands and so on will make the curve steeper or not, but regardless, it's worth doing and I don't know anyone who wasn't able to learn to tie, nor do I know anyone who knows how to tie who wishes they didn't!

But once you get into it, it can become obsessive. This is my living room...