Stupid Question(s) From A Prospective Fly Tyer

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Ryan Hieronymus, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. ganglyangler Bird Dogs and Fly Rods

    Posts: 465
    Port Gamble WA
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    My 2 cents... I got into tying because flyfishing was more than a new way to catch fish. It is not cheaper than buying your own flies. It is a way to connect even more to the sport your love. It got me interested in entomology and the overall environment fish live in. If the first fish you caught on a flyrod made you feel like this first time you caught a fish... flytying is for you. If not no worries. Many places sell flies for as little as 49 cents. That is dirt cheap. However, you cannot put a price on the feeling of being streamside when the fish are eating # 18 tricos and you have nothing close and tying a half dozen on the tailgate of your truck and slaying the next day. Truthfully, tying flies has opened my eyes to patterns not commercialy available that are key to success in certain waters. It is in my opinion a dimension of the sport at least 50% as satisfying as the act itself. You are thinking about the pattern and how you will fish it even before it hits a flybox. It supports small local shops and keeps you involved. It's a lot like pizza.. even when its bad it's still pretty good. You will see and meet tyers who are gifted beyond belief. You will come up with a pattern you will fish with a confidence you never had. Try it out.. it's a beautiful disease!
    jwg likes this.
  2. vmthtr in green bay Member

    Posts: 83
    Green Bay WI
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    I took a class this winter on tying. Guy said do not buy the kit. Comes with lots of stuff you won't need, as in materials. Buy a cheap vice, but don't scrimp on tools. You can and probably will upgrade to a better or different vice, but hadicapping yourself on tools at first is a bad idea. Take a class if availible. Cuts way down on learning curve.
  3. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,522
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +351 / 1
    There's no such thing as a free fly unless someone gives it to you. But, catching a fish on a fly you tied and a leader you made makes the sport that much more fun. I have literally a ton of money tied up in feathers, fur, hooks, etc. and often give the flies away to fishermen I meet. The hobby takes up time in the winter when fishing is out of the question and I can sit down in an evening and tie a few just to relax and plan for a new trip. Expensive? Yes, but I don't smoke and rarely drink so I have to spend my money on something. It may as well be on something I like to do.
    jwg likes this.
  4. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,775
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +229 / 1
    One other known source for "free flies" are trees and bushes. Fortunately, I've found more than I've left. At least so far.............
  5. FT Active Member

    Posts: 1,245
    Burlington, WA
    Ratings: +103 / 0
    First a little background on why I'm going to offer the advice I am to a person wishing or thinking about tying flies. I've taught a lot of folks to tie flies (as in several hundred) over the years and I've been tying flies for 50 years (I started at age 9).

    This said, I never recommend a person buy a fly tying kit for the following reasons: 1) the vise is usually not a very good one (and yes there are good vises that don't cost an arm and a leg); 2) the tying thread in a kit is usually 140 denier (3/0, sometimes heavier, when a person is much better off using 70 denier (7/0 or 8/0) thread to tie nearly all flies; 3) there are a lot of materials in a kit that are never going to be used (which means they are a waste of money); 4) many of the materials are usually poor quality (especially true of hackle); and 5) there are hooks that aren't going to fit your needs (again you paid for something you won't use).

    The best way I know of to get a good, decent quality, well-made set of tying tools is to buy one of the Griffin tying tool sets. They come complete with vise, whip finisher, bodkin, scissors, hair stacker, bobbin, and bobbin threader. These are all the tool you will need.

    Regarding buying hooks and materials the best way to go about doing so is to start simple and buy 1 or at most 2 sizes of the same hook that will be used to tie a simple fly with proven fish catching qualities. Also, only buy the materials to tie this same simple fly. This does 2 things: It keep your initial material costs down; and more importantly, it keeps you focused on learning to tie the 1 or 2 simple flies. This is good because by tying 20 of the same fly you will learn far more and your flies will improve a lot faster than trying to tie one each of 20 different flies.

    Since I've already mentioned the best way to get a good set of fly tying tools, I'll list the fly and materials I think would best serve someone learing to tie trout flies. The best trout fly to start tying flies with is the simple grey or brown hackle wet fly. It is easy to tie, has only 3 parts to it (tail, body, hackle). It is of proven effectiveness for 200 or more years. And by simply changing the tail, body, or hackle color it can be used for anything from trout to salmon.

    The grey hackle requires: some red yarn or really cheap red hackle (as in some cheap red schlappen or small bundle of super large red neck hackle) for the tail; The body is nothing more than yellow chenile or yarn (both are cheap and plentiful in fly shops); The hackle is webby grizzly (barred black and white) and grizzly hen neck or cheap imported Indian (it is imported from India) rooster neck works better than the expensive genetic neck or saddle hackle for this wet fly. It is very easy to make different grey hackle flies, just change the color of the body or change the tail to grizzly hackle fibers instead of the red. You will need to buy some wet fly hooks in #12 and #14 to start. Then you add #16 hooks (and can add #18, #20, #22, or even #24 hooks later on) and you are prepared for a lot of fishing. And if you add some genetic grizzly neck or saddle hackle after having tied 50 or so of them, you will have a rather effective wingless dry fly, get some dry fly hooks in the same sizes, make it with different colored bodies, and use grizzly dry fly hackle for the tail.

    To turn the grey hackle into a brown hackle, change the hackle to natural brown and make the body out of peacock herl. Again, use either brown hen hackle or imported Indian rooster neck hackle. You then vary this just like the grey hackle, including turning it into a dry fly.

    Next, turn it into a black hackle (the only thing that is different is the hackle).

    Now you are ready to add dubbed bodies to the mix. Get some dubbing in colors that match the caddis and mayflies found during the time of year you will be fishing and make the bodies out of the dubbing. You then add ginger genetic dry fly hackle to your materials. And you can now tie a fly that will work 80% of the time during hatches provided you use the right color hackle and body.

    A Woolly Bugger is a very logical streamer, dragon fly nymp type fly to add after the hackle flies above. This will require you to get some black marabou, long shank hooks (#8 or #10 4xl would work very well), black strung saddle hackle (this is sold in 1/4 oz packages and runs around $4.00 a package) and maybe some olive chenile if you haven't gotten it yet. A spool of silver wire tinsel or extra fine oval tinsel is not a bad idea with the Woolly Bugger because it produces a much stronger and a bit easier to tie fly, but is isn't necessary. Don't forget that that the Woolly Bugger can be tied in any color you wish.

    Anyhow, by the time you get the Woolly Bugger down, you will have tied flies that will cover 90% of any trout fishing.

    From here you will go on first to add a wing to your wet and dry flies, learn to tie elk hair caddis, Wulff flies, bucktail streamers, spin deer hair and tie Muddler Minnows, etc.
  6. Ryan Hieronymus Member

    Posts: 65
    Normandy Park, Wa
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    Wow, awesome advice, thank you! I really appreciate all the helpful posts!
  7. Kaiserman content

    Posts: 2,635
    Ratings: +437 / 0
    I have about a grand in material and tools, but it's worth it. Having fun, making up patterns, tweaking others... and then catching fish on then - never gets old. :)
  8. NewTyer1 Banned or Parked

    Posts: 560
    Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
    Ratings: +29 / 1
    I got back into FF after a 20yrs hiatus and decided I want to tie my own flies. My wife bought me a kit from Wapsi,probly the same kit as formentioned. It was a good kit with enough materials and a book to tie 20 or so flies from dry flies to streamers. Some of the flies I started out with were the wooley booger, PT Nymph, Jasid(the one tied with the jungle cock(real or imitation)which is my favorite all around fly. and a Mickey Finn streamer. All very easy to tie. You may also want to pick a pattern or two and just buy the materials and hooks for those to patterns from your local fly shop and start off that way. Good luck, there is nothing like catching fish on something you tied. (mine was the Jasid)and man did I kill em that day, somewhere in the 20-30 fish mark. Have fun
  9. Jon Brengan flyfishing addict

    Posts: 395
    Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    When I started tying it was in 4th grade because it was offered as a class for a couple hours every other friday, the teacher said he would eventually take the student who got the best grades in regular school courses fishing. I never got to go fishing. Instead my dad was thrilled because he now didn't have to buy flies anymore, I also think he thought having me tie flies would save him money. As everyone has eluded too and that you must know by now anything in this sport costs money. Somehow fly fishing and fly tying became an expensive addiction, but what a cool addiction it is. I look at it as completing the circle - I tied the fly that caught the fish, that I was able to share the experience with friends and put a meal on the table to boot. There's really nothing more cool than seeing a natural being sucked off the surface by a big trout, then finally getting everything to happen correctly to match that exact thing and have that fish come up and suck your fly down too, feel the bend in your rod, the tight surging line ripping out of the reel, then easing that fish up for a release and seeing your fly right there in the corner of it's mouth. It's pure magic, I live for that moment!! I tie flies because I like that feeling of knowing my flies are different than anything you can buy in a store. I know that over the years I've tied thousands of flies, compiled many fly collections, spent thousands of dollars in fly fishing stores on materials, books, magazines and gear. But I wouldn't trade those in because of the money, I have a huge store of memories...to go along with all that, that couldn't ever be made up on something else. Fly fishing and fly tying is a lifestyle, a passion for me and countless others. I hope you do get into it, we can always use another brother. Take a class, spend the money - it'll save you time and frustration. Plus now a days you can always watch tying on Youtube, and see how others use or tie materials for their creations. Good Luck
  10. dfl Active Member

    Posts: 310
    Sequim WA
    Ratings: +130 / 0
    If you start tying I suggest you get a "pattern box". Its just a box in which I put any fly that is given me or that I buy. I can then look at the fly and figure out how to tie it. (Yes that skill well come.) If I'm gifted a fly and I use it and lose it its gone forever. If it goes in my pattern box I can tie as many as I want.