New to Fly Tying


WFF Supporter
Been enjoying all of the COVID-coping content, so consider this my contribution. Since early March I've REALLY been wishing I had taken a fly-tying class given current events. When things really started to escalate lockdown-wise it became clear that signing up for the next class at my local fly shop wasn't going to happen, so with the help of youtube some local(ish) online orders, I decided to get after it the best I could.

Vice and tools arrived on Monday and I would summarize my progress this week as follows: abominations of elk hair, dubbing and thread --> materials on a hook that would be technically legal in fly fishing only waters --> flies I might furtively tie on and fish if no one was watching.

I purposely made several "mistakes," such as starting out with size 12 and 14 dries and soft hackles rather than easier patterns because that's what I usually fish, making due with materials that were available now and "close" rather than exact recipes, etc. Times being what they are, I figured it was good to get roughly the right materials and get in my reps. Once again this forum was a wealth of information and I'm really glad I followed the advice in older threads to put together my own "kit" with a quality beginner's vise (Griffin 1A pedestal) and tools rather than buy one of the cheapo all inclusive kits.

For everyone's amusement, here's a picture of some of my better results after a few days of practice:


Clockwise, they are my attempts with available materials at a comparadun/sparkle dun, messing around type soft hackle pattern, x-caddis, and gray hackle. For the messing around one, seems like graboid or tiger king would be a good name. Thoughts?

Next batch of materials already on order from a local fly shop.

Stay safe and be well.


Rocking Chair Fan

No more hot spotting
Tie up 10 flies and see the difference between the first and the last one you tie. Tie one pattern well before the next pattern. Learn from your experiences to tie the new pattern. It is a process to build a capability aka technical skill to apply to the next variation...

Our first flies teach us about proportions - tail to thorax to head ratio sizing... BTW crowding the head aka hook eye, is something we all encounter even years after tying flies.

Next look at the thorax. Fly thorax's are tapered, especially with dry flies.

On both of those counts you are doing well... Congratulations!

Become confident with those skills by tying a number of those. Maybe choose various body colors - e.g. light olive, cream, and orange. Repetition is the key...

Then move on to next style using what you have already learned and build upon that. Maybe parachute or hackled.

You get the idea, always build upon what you are confident with to start something new...
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WFF Supporter
I like the caddis a lot! Looks like "streaking caddis" and will fish great! Do you have a good tying book? There's some great instructional videos on YouTube, I like Davie McPhail and Hans Weillermann (sp?).

As for constructive criticism, it looks like you are crowding the eye a bit (very common when starting out). Try starting your thread an eye length or two back from the eye, and then trying to stay behind that line until you form the head.

Chic Worthing

WFF Supporter
Andy, you can catch fish with those. Well done. Watch youtube for fly ting and watch ScottP a d others on this site for SBS (stepbystep) photos


WFF Supporter
Thanks very much all. Would be very interested in any recommendations for good tying books.

Jim M-glass guy

Active Member
It might be worth checking out Charlie Cravens book on Basic Tying as well as his Nymph book. He has good step by step photos and pretty good detail in instruction... I also think Dave Hughes Wet Flies is a good book since someone else suggested the above book. I also was able to pick up ...a couple years ago from Half Price books a couple of older spiral bound Randall Kauffman .. Tying Dry Flies and Tying Nymphs and they are pretty good as well for traditional flies. Sometimes the spiral bound books tend to have their spines stay intact better. In the last Lynnwood Fishing, show Dave Hughes mentioned that Kinko's can make any fly tying book you have... become a spiral bound book for a fee.. if you book spine starts to fall apart. You will find tying becoming addictive but healthy in time investment. Sometimes Amazon lets you see the first few pages of the book as well as the indexes before a purchase and that can help with seeing what may be in the book, and if its what you hope for.
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Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
I like Dave Hughes too. I got Wet Flies, Handbook of Hatches and Western Hatches when the boys were young. Really got us into looking before we fish and tying stuff to match. Wet flies really was my deal for a while. Also picked up some books when a school closed, and some books I bought with lawnmower money about 12 or 13. The best of those still is Inland Flies of the Northwest by the Inland Empire Fly Club. Good as those were for a foundation I learn by watching videos and seeing what people do here now.


New Member
Following , ordered my first vise today.
Looking at fabric store websites for practice materials...
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Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
These were mentioned above and what I used to learn about tying:
Randall Kauffmann: Tying Dry Flies and Tying Nymphs
Inland Flies of the Northwest by the Inland Empire Fly Club

You can come and pickup these books - I am close by. They are free...

View attachment 233278

PM me if interested...
Jim M mentioned spiral bound, I need to do that. The staples on my Flies of the northwest only hold a couple pages anymore. I like yours, seen them in the store, some flies are the same but many new ones too. The Jack Dennis books about toast too. Might be worth fixing. And Selective Trout lived a hard life before I got it, it was a surplus library book, and it's falling apart, but the info is still good.

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