new tyer

I have just started down the dark path of fly tying. Picked up some basic tools and materials on Saturday and have managed to make some reasonable nymphs and scuds. My kids have gotten very curious about tying also and started tying assorted things to hooks, making “:unique” patterns. My 9 year old has actually started to follow some recipes and managed to tie a pretty good gold ribbed hares ear totally by herself! It is so cool to see her take to it. Now I just have to get her into some fish, we are both still learning there also.

Now the dreaded newbe questions: Is dubbing wax very useful? Understandable, I am having a bit of difficulty getting the dubbing to look right. I am starting to get the hang of it, but will wax help much in getting the dubbing twisted around the tread?

Also, is there any functional difference between a whip finish and half hitch finish? From what I have gathered, it seems to be a matter of preference. I am pretty comfortable using the whip finisher. Is there much need for me to learn how to finish with half hitches?

Tom G

steve s

Active Member
Personally, I don't use dubbing wax when tying smaller or tighter dubbed bodies, just a bit of saliva to moisten the thread. One problem that you may be having is using too much dubbing, I struggled with that problem for quite a while. When tying dries or smaller patterns that require a tightly dubbed body, I'll sometimes moisten the dubbing when it is on the thread and twist it a bit harder with my fingers. Now I will sometimes use a little wax when using a dubbing loop and making more of a buggier looking body.
As for the whip finish or half hitch finish, I genarally use the whip finish but will sometimes use a couple of half hitches if I haven't left myself enough room to make a whip finish head. The half hitch is basically just an overhand knot and when I use a half hitch I try to get at least three or four of them and possibly a bit of head cement.
Hope that this helps.

Steve S

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Tom,since you are new to tying I would suggest that since you live in Snohomish that you are close to Monroe. And since your close to Monroe I would go up to "All About the Fly" Shop in Monroe and talk to Ron the owner and see if he will give you a few pointers. Just as long as you spend a little and ask a few questions I'm sure that he will help you out. He has helped me down the garden path.

And maybe a few of the tyers that are in the area will be there and they also help newbies out.

The fly shop mentioned is a sponson on this site so if you need to know anything about there just click on the Sponsor logo.

Jim... This message brought to you by one who knows a litle but not alot. :beathead:


Active Member
I think in general, half hitches and whip finishes are a matter of preference as you've stated. Some people like to do half hitches in the middle of a pattern. That way, if it all subsequently goes to heck, you don't have to start from scratch. If you're comfortable with a whip finish, then you can do a half hitch in your sleep.

I think the advice previously given about minimizing the amount of dubbing you use is right on. I remember when I first started, I would show my buddy the mayfly patterns that I had tied and he would say "that's a pretty good caddis body". Once I got a handle on an appropriate amount of dubbing, things improved dramatically.



Active Member
Welcome to tying Tom,

Everything expressed here allready is spot on I think.The amount of dubbing wax I have used in my life wouldn't fit on the head of well tyed steelhead spey I think.Some people do use it often when tying dubbing loops which you will soon learn about.I just get what I can in there in my loop and go for it.But thats me.

If you can whip finish you can half hitch true --but, you do want to be able to do both--the halfhitch is handy when you want/need to reverse your thread,common is somemore advanced dressings as you progress.Also useful in very small drys where your halfhitch may be your total finished head.Learn to both when tying your #8 Wooley Buggers and you will have a great foundation.Smooth down the outside edges of your scissors with file or dremel tool so you can use them as a half-hitch tool-they are always in your hand.

If you can beg, borrow or buy a copy of Roy Patricks old book "Tie your own Flies" it would be worth it for you I think.As old as it is, it is the best illustrated tying guide geared to someone that "knows zero" I know of.

I am not sure if there are reprints.Someone on this board may have a working copy that can be well used.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I have that book Davy. I may be able to do some work with the book for those who want it. Wonder if I contacted Patrick's if that's all I need to do a copy? I know it's copywrited. And it's a Patrick's Press publishing I thought. Hmmmm, have to check that one out.

Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
Hey Guys,
Troutman has a copy of Roy's book listed in the classifieds right now. I have not had the privledge, but take your word for it. A less expensive option is a book by John McKimm ...Fly Tying, Adventures in Fur Feathers and Fun. Small simple book with excellent and easy to understand line drawings.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
It might not be too late...I mean if you have not already gone out and bought a lot of stuff...

You could always just go buy flies somewhere. Save yourself a lot of time and thousands upon thousands of dollars.....

Welcome. There is no treatment. You are doomed. :clown:
Bob, it is worse than that, I have fallen for the allure of tying for sure, but My 9 year old daughter also has it bad and my 11 year old son is quickly developing an interest.

I understand that on paper it looks like you could save some coin by tying your own flies. That is not the reason that I (or most probably) took it up. I am in the early stages of fly fishing enlightenment. I understand that it is not about throwing a big gaudy, shinny look at me lure out there, but understanding what the fish are eating at that moment and try to match the pattern and movement with your fly. I think tying will help me understand enthamology and increase the enjoyment of the sport.

As always, you guys are quick to give advice and support. Thank you.

I appreciate the book references. I have borrowed "Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple" by Morris and have been searching the web as well. The "Tie Your Own Flies" book looks a bit pricey for me at this time. I will probably borrow some other books from the library before I decide which reference books I will need to buy.

I have a couple of nymphs, scuds and wooly buggers down pretty well and am currently trying to keep the wing on my elk hair caddis on top of the hook. All in all, it is coming together faster than I expected it to! I wanted to post a photo of my daughter's hare's ear nymph but my camera will not focus when I am close enough for a decent picture.

Thanks much.

Tom G
I too have found the library to be an exellent resource on fly fishing & tying. One book which you will be able to find is Essential Trout Flies by Dave Hughes. After checking that one out, and many others, I decided that it is the only one I need to buy. If you do a search on for Poul Jorgensen, you will find he's got two videos that helped me out quite a bit when I first started tying last summer.


Active Member
Try putting a wrap of thread around your hair bundle before you wrap it around the hook. This should keep your Elk Hair Caddis wing on top of the hook.

I've found some success when tying the wings on EHC's by both wrapping around the wing bundle before wrapping to the hook as well as holding the "bundle" at a 45 degree angle to the hook on the side nearest you while wrapping the wing tight on the goes to hell every once in awhile...but that keeps ya humble :D
Hey Tom if your ever in Lk. Stevens, come into the shop in old town right across from B.C. Mcdonalds (we're the only fishing shop in town) and chat with me...I've been tying for some 17 yrs. and I'm sure I could help you out...