How to get started tying?

Joe J

Active Member
Lots of great info here, thank you! So far the only progress I’ve made is to start sorting some of the stuff out, and figuring out what everything is.
 

surfnsully

Active Member
D O N " T

I can't go into a fly shop without spending money on some new materials that I don't have. I have asked girls with colored hair for some locks so I can try some steelhead flies. I have pheasant and chukar feathers drying all over my garage. I have elk hides in the garage drying and waiting for me to run out of the 20 packages various elk hairs I already have. My floor sprarkles from all the clippings of dubbing, Kristal flash, feathers, wire, braid, etc that the vacuum won't collect. And on top of all that I also have more flies than I will ever use in a lifetime and nobody to will them to.

By the way, I found a great new pattern and plan to tie up a dozen or more in a few minutes :)
 

jasmillo

WFF Supporter
I would start with streamers. More wiggle room with streamers than small trout flies. Also, concentrate on technique versus the finished product. As many have said, you will tie a bunch of crappy stuff. Good thing about fish is their brain is the size of an acorn and they’ll usually eat less that perfect offerings. With streamers in particular, many times it’s the motion of the ocean versus how pretty the ship is that gets the eat.

Have fun with it. Be experimental. Watch a lot of YouTube videos to learn technique and then put your own spin on it. Don’t worry if you do not have the exact materials list. Substitute. Fly tying is like cooking. Learn technique and then put your own spin on things to nail the taste.

I would suggest Gunner Brammers videos. He definitely does some more advanced stuff but not always and he is great at explaining technique and structure. Truly more instructional in style versus “here is me tying a fly and a materials list”.

Have fun. Definitely adds a new dimension to fishing when you start catching stuff on your own ties.
 

NW_flyfisher

if it's not this, then what?
to complete your fly, learn to be proficient with this whip finishing tool or learn to do the whip finish by hand, learn the half hitch as well
 

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Zak

WFF Supporter
to complete your fly, learn to be proficient with this whip finishing tool or learn to do the whip finish by hand, learn the half hitch as well
If you sharpen the metal tag at the end of the handle with a file, you can sever the thread after finishing the head without picking up your scissors. (I never learned to tie with my scissors always in my hand).
 

Jim M-glass guy

Active Member
Charley Cravens book Basic Fly Tying is a pretty good book for starting as his photos as well as written instruction are very good. He explains some things that help in the beginning as how material seems to move as you wind on the tying thread and how to sort of avoid that "creep" by placing the material in advance of where the material will move so it sits up on the hook shank versus somewhat to the side after its tied in. HE also is very good about a movement of step by step and good focus on details. Alot of good tables for hook sizes, wire involved as well as bead sizes for hook sizes and takes you from easy to more sophisticated flies. Sometimes you can find good fly tying books on used book store shelves as well as fly shops. I have even found some at Goodwill in the past. Some books are great and some are so so. Dave Hughes is also good. My first book was that earlier mentioned book by Ted Leeson and Jim Scholmeyer ... Benchside Introduction to Fly Tying ...and its split format and technique by technique and then also fly by fly. It sort of overwhelmed me until I was able to take a class at Patricks years ago. Lessons in person ARE great, but in Covid time it may not be an option or a WISE choice. Charley Cravens basic book helped me get the basic flies techniques refined more through just repeatedly tying MORE FLIES. Then cutting them apart with the razor blade on flies that are not in proportion. My first fly pattern I tied, I tied about 20 and consumed 2 beers. Being a new fly tyer and 2 beers.... not a good decision. It was humorous, but a lesson ...... only 5 or 6 at a time and FOCUS on the proportions.... not the beer. Now its about 5 or 6 flies and a beer if they go well or maybe reward is putting them in the box and relaxing knowing that those will be fun to look forward to using in the spring. Sometimes finding the fly you want to tie, watching a couple guys tie "that" fly on You Tube and then find the instructions in your book as well and go step by step with the book, reinforces the video images you watched earlier. End result is the right and left sides of the brain are engaged as sometimes one learns with one method better than another. Doing both initially will tell you what works for you. Sometimes even written instructions are available online if a book is not available. DON'T GET DISCOURAGED BY FLIES THAT ARE NOT PERFECT AT FIRST.
 

Zak

WFF Supporter
The one weird trick that helped me not crowd the eye is starting my thread one eye length (2-3 mm) behind the hook eye and not letting any material get closer to the eye than the thread. Leaving that bit of bare hook shank behind the eye leaves room for a neat thread head at the finish.
 

P-FITZ98

Active Member
D O N " T

I can't go into a fly shop without spending money on some new materials that I don't have. I have asked girls with colored hair for some locks so I can try some steelhead flies. I have pheasant and chukar feathers drying all over my garage. I have elk hides in the garage drying and waiting for me to run out of the 20 packages various elk hairs I already have. My floor sprarkles from all the clippings of dubbing, Kristal flash, feathers, wire, braid, etc that the vacuum won't collect. And on top of all that I also have more flies than I will ever use in a lifetime and nobody to will them to.

By the way, I found a great new pattern and plan to tie up a dozen or more in a few minutes :)
Glad I’m not alone !
 

LilCutts

fish & whistle
WFF Supporter
I know this is a pretty broad topic... I’ve been making some noise for a while now about tying my own flies, but haven’t taken the leap. My dad decided this year to gift me his whole tying set up for Christmas as he just doesn’t tie anymore, has more tied up than he could ever lose he says. This is a careers worth of of tying materials and tools. 3 vices, various tools, spools, a little table organizer, and a literal chest of various furs and feathers, ect. I’m so over whelmed I don’t even know where to begin. Obviously my dad will be a great resource, but he’s a pulmonologist in the midst of a pandemic, so it’s not like he has a ton of free time or energy. Are there certain youtube channels, books, or other resources you would recommend for a total newb? I mean, I don’t even know what some of this stuff is..It was a really cool gift that meant a lot to both of this. I want to do him proud and turn out some nice flies.
Here's my advice from someone who started in your exact position -- inherited a full setup and had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I traded some of the materials to a guide in exchange for teaching me one of his own patterns. I tied that pattern a million times. So my advice is to start with ONE fly pattern and perfect it before moving on -- including the whip finish knot. Rule 1: ALWAYS WIND AWAY FROM YOURSELF! The Washington Fly Fishing Club has beginner fly tying classes via zoom and you can find tons of stuff on YouTube, but sometimes they go so fast it's hard to follow. Hope this helps.
 

LilCutts

fish & whistle
WFF Supporter
I'd recommend Orvis tying videos on Utube, but you need to know that getting the knack of attaching materials to hooks will take some practice.
Here's my advice from someone who started in your exact position -- inherited a full setup and had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I traded some of the materials to a guide in exchange for teaching me one of his own patterns. I tied that pattern a million times. So my advice is to start with ONE fly pattern and perfect it before moving on -- including the whip finish knot. Rule 1: ALWAYS WIND AWAY FROM YOURSELF! The Washington Fly Fishing Club has beginner fly tying classes via zoom and you can find tons of stuff on YouTube, but sometimes they go so fast it's hard to follow. Hope this helps.
As for helpful books, I recommend The Flytier's Manual by Mike Dawes. Also The Art of Fly Tying. Some books will dive into pretty complex entomology - I suggest not worrying about that for now. The main types of real 'flies' that tiers imitate are mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, and midges. Then you get into the life stages...larvae, pupae, emerger, etc. I started with a streamer pattern, which imitates a small bait fish, not a fly, because it required only five 'ingredients' to tie. Yarn, mylar, rabbit zonker strip, flashabou, and a bit of red marabou. Hope this helps.
 

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