Fly Tying

Hmmmmm, about a kit and the book

Even though I am not a big fan of Kaufmann's I do believe that the instruction books by Randall Kaufmann on dry and nymph patterns are awesome. Thy come in a binded version I have so the book lays flat and walke you through everything from basic's to very complex techniques. I actually bought a starter kit there and would not do it again, I would just choose the basic fly's to start with caddis, buggers and buy materials as needed for the types of fly's you are learning. Best of luck!!


Here's my advice.

Buy a Thomson "A", Griffin, or some other decent vise that's under $50. These are all the vise you need to get started, and won't cost so much that you won't be able to invest in a "better" vise if you decide you really like it. (Hell, they're really all the vise you'll ever need. I've been tying for 13 years with the same Thomson A I learned on, that cost $25; I mean, for pity's sake, it just has to hold a hook tight. A pair of needle-nose pliers and a couple c-clamps would work.) I would be cautious though about very cheap, mail-order "kit" vises; too many are built to spill. Pretty much any vise you find in a good fly shop will be good enough; get the cheapest one.

Then get one decent bobbin, some half-hitch tools or a whip-finisher, a bodkin for applying head cement and teasing dubbing, a medium-sized hair stacker, a good pair of fine-pointed hackle pliers, and the best pair of fly-tying scissors you can afford (the most important tool in your arsenal, a hundred times more important than the vise).

That will get you started on tools. Eventually you'll want extra bobbins to save time (and maybe some fancy ceramic ones), a couple different sizes of bodkins and hair-stackers, and various other sundries and gizmos, as strikes your fancy and/or tying needs. But the above are the essentials, and will tie 99.9% of all you'll ever need.

For materials, get the following: A natural hare's mask; a muskrat pelt; a natural calftail; a natural squirrel tail; a patch of elk hair; a patch of coastal-deer hair; packets of natural/artificial dubbing in various shades; some saddle hackle (either whole saddles or selected feathers) in grizzly, grizzly-dyed-olive, grizzly-dyed-brown, and black; some neck hackle (get packages of selected feathers; capes are too expensive to start) in grizzly and dun; a partridge skin or selected feathers (a skin will have more variation in size and color of feathers); some peacock herl; some turkey quills; a pheasant tail; some medium and fine flat gold/silver tinsel; some fine copper wire; 6/0 waxed tying thread in olive, tan, dun, and white; some antron yarn, fine and medium chenille, and fine v-rib in various colors; some head cement, and some flex-cement; and of course hooks in various styles and sizes. Eventually you'll find hundreds of other things to buy, but this stuff (probably about $50) will tie most of your beginner trout flies, including streamer/leeches, nymphs, and dries.

Tying your own will eventually be cheaper than buying flies, but it will be awhile before you recoup your initial investment, especially once you begin buying good capes and other exotic materials (and never skimp on materials; it's not that hard to tie good flies with good materials, but almost impossible with bad stuff). You kind of have to want to do it for reasons besides economics.

If you want to start with salt-water, bass, or steelhead flies, the materials would obviously be different (the shop, or I'm sure someone else here, will help you there), but learning the techniques for trout flies will set you up best for almost all patterns. Tying is not that hard, and based around not that many fairly basic techniques.

However, I believe the best way to learn those techniques is to sit next to another human, watch, listen, and then let her/him watch and coach you. I don't know anything about the Flysmith, but most shops offer lessons. Take some. They're the best, quickest way to learn, a great way to meet other angler/tyers, and generally cheap (a lot less than a $100 book! The shop wants to sell you tools and materials, which you want to buy; everybody wins).

Good luck; have fun.
i agree. the best thing that happened for me was watching my dads freind and just listening to him talking about it. it was better than a book because he helped with my problems. also it didnt cost no $100


Active Member
Here's a great resource for cheap fly fishing stuff. Below is the link for Hook & Hackle's vise page. Just scroll down to the bottom of the vise section--past the Barracuda, Dyna King, and Regal vises--to the standard vises. There is a rotary vise for $22. It ain't pretty but it sure does the job for me. And you can't beat the price!


Old Man

Just an Old Man
What do I know---I'm just an old man

There's one place that everybody over looks and that is the library. I went there and found a whole wealth of info. A big book on all types of flies. Some I could and some I couldn't tie. I've done most of my tying by trial and error. Nothings perfect the first time that you do it. But the good part of all of this is when your flies catch fish. Mine are simple and they work. I'm trying to catch fish not other fisher men.



Active Member
Michael and Young fly shop up in B.C. sells a great kit with most of the materials Ray recommends above. They'll also throw in the materials for a few of your favorite flies if you ask. Great shop highly recommended. I don't mean to pump them but I've been buying from them for the past year or so and they've really been a stand up shop. They have a website:

Matt Burke

Active Member
Geez, you guys are doggin' my bible, "The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference". It's not a 100 bucks, it's only 70 on, see link in message # 4. But that's kewl, I'll live. I'm all for not spending a years tuition at the Udub, just to catch a fish. I really want the 149 dollar fly vest from Simms, but I'll just keep using this U.S.Army survival vest that I tied a pair of fingernail clippers to.

That would be great for all of us to get together and tie flies. I would love to get out from behind this computer screen and meet everyone. My fly tying kit is totally mobile as I take it to work and tie when I get a chance.

Cutthroat_Fight, what ever you do, just start tying anyway you can. I can show you how to whip finish by hand. I know I have a lot to learn from everyone on this board too.

Hey Chris, Can we all meet at your house? Just kiddin'.....sorta.



Piscatorial predilection
I think everyone enjoy's catching fish with a fly they tie themselves, I sure do. I've been tying for several years now, and like many have already said, they might not be pretty but they do catch fish. Some times though it is necssary to buy a few flies, if only to see what they are really supposed to look like :HMMM

If you want to buy a few flies, for reference or just to stock up quickly before a trip, I would suggest you take a look at the flies available at Ed's Surplus in Lynnwood. Why :CONFUSED because of the selection available but mostly because of the price, only 99 cents each! And the quality is good too.

Streamers, leaches, wooly-buggers and such are pretty easy to tie, but some of those dry's take a bit of practice and time, so if you ever need to buy a few flies get over there and check it out.

I'll probably be sorry for this post, won't be any left for me now :MAD :WINK
Nice that we have been able to exercise the marketplace of ideas on this topic. Here is my final idea for the advanced tier and/or the beginner: do not neglect craft stores! For example, you can go to Orvis and buy tungsten beads for $5 or swallow your pride and go into Michael's Crafts and pay $1 for the same product.

For those who posted frustration about dubbing, go to Michael's and buy yarn/chenille and just tie it on without having to deal with putting dubbing on the line.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Hey Caddis, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsh

LOL. I love michaels. What's funny. I tie up a few patterns for salmon that I use ribbing on. Some with built in reflector tape in it. Orvis sells them in like 5 yard spools for about $4. For $2 I can buy the EXACT same stuff (I mean EXACT SAME) in 100 yard spools. Save $2 and have a supply to last me along time. I just wish chenille wise michaels had a better selection and quality. Not bad stuff, but you can tell that the stuff fly shops sells is different. But craft stores are great.
Well, I work downtown so I go to Kaufmann's to shop. The basic setup that Ray Helaers describes, Thompson "A" vise, etc. Is what is in Kaufmann basic tying kit that I purchased last year, about $65. And I took a tying class from Gary at the shop. I think a class helped me get going much faster than I could have done on my own looking at the books and/or videos, which I use now for help and ideals. Kaufmann also sells a range of material kits. I purchased the basic beginning kit. But was soon back at the store buying stuff, different hook sizes, different color marabou and chenile, woolly buggers were the easist fly to start tying. But I will also admit I have not used all the material in the kit since I have not tried tying many dry flies yet.

Hey Caddis, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsh

I am a bit suprised at all the feedback. I now have a ton of information to digest. First of all I am thinking of Not going with the kit, but buying each piece as inexpensively as possible.

Those flytying tieoneon gettogethers sound great! Next time you have one let me know my neighbor may want to come too. :)

Mattziod, I searched on ebay and found that book for $55bucks with a buy it now feature and may eventually get it..after the lotto results come in. :EEK :BIGSMILE

Thanks for the tips on flytying classes Old "I live 17 miles from the river" Man and Caddiscaster and all the advise about The Flysmith...its good to hear testiments from people who have had business with them in the past.

Steelheader I rarely get to the Tacoma area, but thanks for the offer :) Maybe when the flytying gettogether happens you can come up! It would be fun to meet a few people from the board. In the words of Mcrowdy and Old Man It would be $%#$^&^ great to meet all you @#$%^%$ and tye some flies while we get ^*^%$@ Faced!


Everyone else thank you for the great means a lot to a newbie to get such great feedback from experience.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Hey Caddis, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsh

What do I know---I'm just an old man

Where are you coming from,your home base. Do you live close to Marysville. Just asking as that is where I'm at.