Complete begginer

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by msteudel, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. I've been resisting the fly tying fever for years, but I'm suddenly thinking of bitting the bullet and getting into it. My main goal is to be able to keep the flies that I use all the time in stock and in the sizes I want.

    What do you think the minimum amount of stuff I can get away with is? I'd prefer to just buy a kit instead of piecing it all together. BUT if people were to say, look on the used market for this vise, you'll be happy with it for years, then I'd be willing to piece stuff together. Someone actually gave me some fly tying stuff (not a vice) but I don't know what any of it is or for that matter where it is right now ...

    Anyway summary, what do I need to get started and still not break the bank.

    Thanks, Mark
  2. Mark,

    Most of the kits I've seen are pretty much junk and not worth the expense; I think you'd be better off buying the basic stuff - vise, scissors, bobbin, etc, and then add on as you need. What type of flies do you plan to tie? Makes a difference when recommending some tools and materials - if you don't plan to use deer/elk/ungulate-of-choice hair, you don't have much need for a stacker. If you don't use hackle, no need for hackle pliers, although a decent one only cost a few dollars. I tie off almost all my flies with a double half hitch and although I have a tool for it, a retractible ball point pen would work fine. Get a good source of light, too; those cheap clamp-ons work fine I have one and an Ott light and that provides excellent illumination.

  3. There are good kit's out there, although I find the vices in them lacking. The reason I like a kit, is that you get the materials, hooks, thread and the basics to get going without having to buy tons of colors of the same material. Fly tying won't save you money, but is fun and really fun once you get basics down.

    I started with a cheap E-Bay kit, but won't do that again. Orvis sells a couple of great starter kits, with everything you need to get started! I worked at Orvis until just recently, so do recommend the kits they have!!

    I would upgrade to a better vice, but the tools, materials and book is a great way to "test the waters" before you invest in a ton of stuff. Too give you an idea, I easily have $6000 in materials, tools, etc.. didn't happen overnight, and I've gotten rid of a few things, but I've got great tools, a Regal vice and some really good materials! Ironically, I never seem to have all of the right materials for new patterns, but that's just the cost of doing business.
    Patrick Gould likes this.
  4. The initial list of flies I was thinking of tying are:

    patts stone
    copper john
    some tenkara style flies (reverse hackle flies).
    Orange stimulators
  5. Yeah I'm not going in thinking I'm going to save money, just have the few flies I really want.
    Also my 5 year old has shown interest in fly tying, so I might get her going in it too.
  6. Hi Mark, take a look at Cabela's Super II vise, at $19.95 it rotates and holds hooks...what more do we need? I've been tying flies for 48 years now and have been using this vise for 26 years now! Unless you won the lottery or have a killer fly tying room, save your money for rods and reels! The fish don't care what kind of vise you tie with! I'm in Burien, you can check out my vise if you want.---Steve
    dfl likes this.
  7. First 2 are pretty good starter flies; CJ's a bit more involved but even ugly ones catch fish (that applies to just about any fly). Don't know that I'd come out of the chute green tying Stimis but if you stick to the proportions & amount of material you could swing it; check Charlie Craven's site for the best tutorials on all of those flies.


    ps - if you're looking for a recommendation on hooks, I like Dai Riki; good quality and decent price. Lots of places on-line sell them.
  8. Generally, those kits suck. Though if you buy from somewhere that is fly fishing focused (like Orvis) that is probably a better bet.

    A cheap vise will get you started, a mid range vise will last you for a good while, and expensive vise will last forever.
  9. Suggestions?
  10. You could get a Thompson A and it would probably outlast you; very basic, no-frills, but a tank and a great vise to start with. I've seen them, used, for $25-30. Just me, but I'd steer clear of the import knock-offs; fit and finish suffer.

    Krusty likes this.
  11. I have a Wapsi Kit. I liked it because:

    1. It came with a big hook assortment.
    2. The tools are good quality
    3. materials are great with the exception of dry hackle.
    4. It has a big variety of materials.
    5. ~$100
    6. Gift from my wife


    1. Thompson knockoff vise has poor fit and finish. Adjustment is a pain, but it does work.
    2. Dry hackle was poor quality (but it was the height of the hair feather craze so that might have improved)
  12. I agree. It's a common fly, but requires a few different techniques to get right. I would try X caddis then Elk Hair Caddis and then Stimis. The skills build on one another.
  13. I got started with the Cabela's Premium Fly Tying kit - about $120 bucks, but I got it for much less on sale. Is it the best? No. Does it suck? Absolutely not. It was a great starter for someone that had no clue where to start. It just contains the materials, not the vice or tools. Now I buy specific materials for specific flies, but back then, I couldn't possibly know what I would like to tie vs. what I would like to buy.

    Oh, and buy really good scissors. I like Dr. Slick, which if you check out you can get reasonably. Not always available, but when they are they are a great deal.

    I have a Renzetti Presentation vice and like it, in the mid-range category. It'll last my lifetime. Vices are a personal preference.
    Davy likes this.
  14. I agree, do not skimp on the scissors, or the vise either. You don't have to buy a "fancy" vise, just a good one.
    Patrick Gould likes this.
  15. Suggestions Davy?
  16. Hmmm, Been out of it so long not real up to date on current products. Haven't tied a fly in many years.

    I learnt on a Thompson B, then an A, tied millions on a Regal and then an HMH . Six or so years ago I think Peak was putting out a pretty good vise at a reasonable price point, but bare bones Regals aren't terribly expensive either and speedy. Good fine point scissors. That's another story. Some European brands can be very spendy. I used to like the adjustable handled short throw Griff's. Thompson fine points fit my hand well but had the long throw(blades) which I didn't care for. You'll also need coarser scissors but still good ones for hair cutting. The Thompsons always did the trick for me there. I have a a set of Victors I used for my finer feathers and close work, but never in production/hobby fishing tying.

    I just remember back when I was teaching, scissors were one of the main items many thought they could skimp on when the exact opposite was the truth. And soon enough they figured it out

    I am sure there are a lot of new products. I don't even look at the catalogs any longer.
  17. good choices

    Dr Slick makes a nice little starter tool set
    buck up some $ for a descent vice as you will want a good one after a short period of time
  18. I started out tying on kit from Cabelas that cost about $19. Included a vise in a box, and the vital tools. I used it for years and ended up tying quite a few flies that caught quite a few fish. I now have a much better vise, but to be honest, the flies look pretty much the same.
    First flies were Olive Willy and prince nymphs.
    dfl and Patrick Gould like this.
  19. I probably wouldn't go the kit route. I got into fly tying because I could no longer buy a fly that worked quite well for me. So I bought just enough materials and tools to tie that one fly.

    I would suggest, as others have, buy the basic tools and materials you need for the specific flies you mentioned that you want to tie.

    Personally, the Copper John is a bitch for me to tie... I normally buy those. You may want to start with patterns that do not require a lot of different materials and fancy techniques.

    I've never met anyone yet who started tying flies and then gave it up. Usually, once you start, you're doomed.

    With that in mind, I'd look into purchasing a true rotary vise. Sooner or later you're going to end up buying one anyway. The prices start fairly low and go sky high from there.

    To learn the basics, take at look at the SBS section of this forum. Hans posts film clips that are danged handy. I had to rely on tying books when I first started but these days, you can find a video somewhere on The Internet of just about any fly you want to tie. Videos are much superior to step by step photos you get in a book.

    Good luck and know that it will be frustrating at first but as with everything, the more frequently you tie, the easier it becomes. Eventually, some of the techniques will become second nature and you won't even think about what you're doing, you'll just do it.
    Patrick Gould likes this.
  20. ok Gene I gotta know what was the fly?

    I gave up for 32 years but I'M BACK.........

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