Where to start and other stupid questions

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Pieter Salverda, May 21, 2008.

  1. Pieter Salverda

    Pieter Salverda Member

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    Soooooo.....I think I am going to start tying some of my own flies. I am planning a trip to the St. Joe with my brothers in June/July and a lot of the flies they recommend seem "easy" to tie (caddis, stimulators, buggers, etc.) so I thought it might be time for me to start.

    I have a "tool kit" which consists of what seems like a good vice, scissors, three bobbins, a threader, and that's it.

    Here are my questions, not necessarily in order of stupidity:
    1. Do I NEED a stacker?
    2. I know hook size is important, but is the brand a matter of personal preference? What about the gape?
    3. 3/0 vs 6/0 - No idea here.
    4. Natural vs. Synthetic dubbing - again, no idea.
    5. Are there good reliable places to get a basic materials kit, or should I buy the materials I need and build from there?
    6. I may be confused but are there dry fly hackles and wet fly hackles?

    Any other input, suggestion, advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much, and I look forward to joining in your conversations...eventually.

    Pieter
     
  2. hikepat

    hikepat Patrick

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    3 3/0 thread would be way to thick for any flies for the St Joe 6/0 for nymths and 8/0 for nymths or dry flies would be better as a starting point. 3/0 is what I use for salt water flies and at times for spun deer hair flies.

    1 Stacker is only needed if you need to align fur for spun flies or caddis wings and such. You can stack hair without one using a old bullet shell or other such item but the stacker since it pulls apart makes things easier.

    2 Mustard is the least expensive hook to learn with and for trout flies what many of us still use though there are better hooks out there the Mustard still do the job just fine.

    6 Dry fly hackles are stiffer.

    5 pick a couple flies you want to learn to tie and head down to your local fly shop for the material for just those flies and in most shops will even show you how to tie the fly you are buying all the materials for. Its good business for them to get a beginner going on the right track. Most of what you get in a basic material kits are garbage and no good for a beginer or advance person to use.
     
  3. Calvin1

    Calvin1 Member

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    If you can fish a stimulator in June/July that you tie yourself and you are just starting now, you are far quicker learner than I!

    You can by 100 packs of hackles that are pretty good, but they will be limited to only a small variety of sizes. If you are committed, you might just want to buy a decent grizzly cape, a good all around hackle to have. You might want to get some hen hackles for your buggers, they are relatively cheap and you can get them in a couple of colors for the buggers that you like. For a reasonable sized stimulator, I'll use 6 ott thread, but will use 8 ott for a dry sized 14 and smaller.

    hikepat is absolutely correct on the Mustads, but I find the cheap ones to be really crappy hooks. Dia Riki seem to be reasonably priced and I've found them to be good hooks.

    In terms of dubbing, I use it all, synthetic and natural. Find one you like and get a dubbing box with 12 colors and get a different 12 box the next time you have a few extra bucks in your pocket.

    Go to your local fly shop, tell them what you're interested in tying and they'll put you into a good package of stuff I'm sure. Good luck, and welcome to the obsession.
     
  4. Sourdoughs

    Sourdoughs -Marc Chapman, icthyoantagonist

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    What the other guys said, plus:
    1) Yes, when you're working with Caddis and Stimmies.
    3) I found that I can tie most flies with 8/0 thread, although for big flies 6/0 works fine. If I had to by a single size for my dries, it'd be 8/0.
    4) Natural for hares ears and such, but for the dries you listed synthetic is fine. Spirit River, Superfine, whatever. The correct color is the most important.
    5) Get the materials you need as you find the need. I've never seen a kit that doesn't include a bunch of materials I never needed.
    6) Yes, dry hackles are stiffer (as mentioned above) and the better grade can be quite pricey. Wet hackles are limp, and generally much less expensive.
     
  5. Jefffly

    Jefffly The more we know, the less we can learn!

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    my recommendation is to go to your local fly shop if you have a good one and somebody there is knowledgable about tying and hopefully ties themself. next find patterns that you like or would fish and ask them what material is used and buy enough stuff to tie that fly and do the same with many other types. I have found that I have spent a lot of money on material just by buying what I thought I might need and have a ton of material which I am grateful to have but also have a lot of material that I may never use. I gaurantee starting out you will find that If you want to tie a certain fly you will probably be missing an important ingredient to that fly if you dont make a list of what you will need. but be careful to check what you already have in your tyeing desk because its easy to buy the same thing twice!! The greatest thing about tying your own flies is the different variations of color you can make to flies that you cant find pre tyed anywhere! Ive only been tying for 3 months so dont take everything I said to heart there is some very experienced tyers on this site with great knowledge.
     
  6. Steven Green

    Steven Green Hood Canal Pirate

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    iagree

    Buying all the materials you want at once will send you towards 400 dollars, and It is easier to focus on just a few patterns at once when you just start. Hair stackers and other fancy tools are not needed but can be nice. The only tools I use are the vice, scissors, and bobbin. If you don't have a whip finisher tie off the fly with several half hitches, It's always worked just fine for me. Just a few things that I found out when I started tying.

    Steven
     
  7. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Go buy Kaufmanns book( Tying Dry Flies), and follow his instructions.
     
  8. HARDER

    HARDER New Member

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    Pieter, I had to learn on my own years ago. Everyone here has offered great advice. One thing that helped me a long time ago was going to the public library and checking out videos on fly tying. Books are great, but sometimes it helps to see the full motion of techniques and tricks. Catching fish on your own patterns is really fun and adds a whole new dimension to our obsession.
     
  9. nb_ken

    nb_ken Member

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    Couple of schools of thought on getting started with fly tying.

    One is to pick a few patterns that you think you might use in the near future -- maybe a couple of dries and a couple of nymphs -- buy the materials for those, then sit at the bench and work them out until you get things down.

    You mentioned a stimulator. I love that fly. Great summertime pattern on most med-large rivers. But it's a busy fly that involves a lot of different tying techniques -- hair tail, palmered hackle, hair wing, standard vertical hackle, etc. Also, getting the proportions right on any fly is difficult for a beginner. Getting the proportions right on a stimulator can be difficult for veteran tiers.

    The second school of thought on learning to tie is like the Skip Morris method (from the book 'Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple').

    With that method, you progress through a series of flies that teach you a particular technique. You start with learning about thread and learn to start it on a hook, learn knots like half hitches and whip finishes. Your first actual fly is a simple nymph that teaches you to spin dubbing on your thread. Then, say, with a wooley bugger, you'd learn to tie in tails, palmer hackle, etc. Then you'd move on to flies that require hair wings and feather wings, etc, etc, etc.

    Once you learn the individual techniques, you can then follow a recipe to build most any fly.

    I'm kinda from that second school.

    One thing that took me a while to figure out was, why does the hackle in this bag cost $6, and the hackle in this other bag cost $106? They don't look all that different.

    The cheap hackle is used for wet flies and streamers. You want feathers with barbs that are long and soft and will swim and flow and move in the water. Those kinds of feathers can come from a chicken hen grown anywhere.

    For dry flies, you want feathers that are short and stiff and will float the fly in the surface film. Those kinds of feathers come from roosters. Dry flies are generally tied on hooks in size 12 - 20 and even smaller. Stiff feathers for flies that small are rarely seen in nature. The answer comes from a few growers who have genetically engineered roosters for feathers used to tie dry flies. Those feathers don't come cheap.

    You might want to cut corners here to save a little money. I'd recommend against it. I'd say, instead of buying cheaper hackle, buy smaller quantities of the good stuff. It's much easier to work with, and the flies will work better on the water.
     
  10. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    Pieter,

    1. You will need a hair stacker if you ever want to tie flies with a hair wing (stimi's, caddis, etc...)
    2. Don't waste your money on mustads, i agree that dai-riki's are a good start, but when you get better i would start buying umpquas or gamakatsus.
    3. Thread, imo, varies between brands. I use uni-thread 6/0 for almost everything and uni 3/0 for big stuff.
    4. Natural dubbing is good if you want it to sink, synthetic if you want it to float or sink. Natural fibers soak up more water, and synthetics dont, so synthetics can go either way, where i rarely use natural dubbing on dries.
    5. DON'T buy a kit. just buy what you need when you need it. i would think of a couple patterns (wooly bugger, pt nymph, chernobyl) and ask the dude at the fly shop to set you up with the stuff to tie them.
    6. I would buy a brown and a grizzly saddle hackle in either a 1/4 hackle or a 100 pack. good way to get good material and save some dough.

    I love tying flies, but get into it for the creative aspect, because it wont save you any money!
     
  11. Steven Green

    Steven Green Hood Canal Pirate

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    Not true, fly tying will save you money. . . after about 100 years or so :ray1:
     
  12. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I agree entirely with Ken's last point. Buy the best quality dry fly hackle you can afford. Cut corners elsewhere (like start out with inexpensive hooks).

    A correction that may seem minor to the first paragraph quoted above, but given the controversy that genetic engineering engenders among some folks, the roosters that Metz and Whiting and others sell that are called "genetic" are not genetically engineered, but developed through selective breeding, just as folks have improved on traits they find desirable for millennia.

    Dick
     
  13. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    They would probably be able to make some bad ass hackles if they were truly "genetically engineered".
     
  14. nb_ken

    nb_ken Member

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    I struggled over the word 'engineered'. I knew it wasn't the word I was looking for but my command of the vocabulary of biology needs work.

    Selective breeding was the phrase I had in mind. Thanks for the correction.
     
  15. Daryle Holmstrom

    Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

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    I echo the above words, Pieter but tying flies is to me more fun to me than fishing them. When I get a chance to fish them and see the joy it brings to the little ones or to me if I have my rod out and actually catch the the beasties on my old fenwick and pflueger reel, it's sort of fun, but hell nostalgia is coming out now. Just finished driving down from the lodge and went by Patterson and the chiros were coming off, by the sips some fair ones.

    Daryle
     

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