The Beginning shopping list.


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ok. I just bought a vice, but I have nothing to tie flies with and I'm really not sure all the basic stuff that I "need" to tie some basic flies. I know I need thread, but what size and type? I know I need glue, but what kind? So many things to buy, but I'm just not totally sure what I really need.

So far on my to get list I have:

Ceramic Bobbin
All Purpose Scissors
Soft Tip Hackle Pliers?
Whip Finisher
Dubbing Hook?
All Dr Slick stuff the one to get, or would the cheaper brands be just as good?

Thread. Not sure what size or sizes to get or what types of thread I should have on hand.
Glue. Something fast drying, that is not too thick, holds strong, easy to apply and doesn't leave white residue when it dries.
Feathers, Furs and Yarns.. I know to get a couple colors of Dubbing, but do I get pretty much whatever feathers and fur, or do I really need to be accurate on what I choose for the type of fly I am tying?
I have a little bit of a idea of what I may need from a previous thread, but I just don't want to forget any must have items.

Right now, I'm just trying to get a basic setup to get me started and I only want to make 1 stop at the fly shop or online order, then after I get to making flies, I can figure out what I need and what I don't need.
Hooks. I see so many different style, but not sure the size or eye position or length would be best if I was to get 1 size for all.
Hackle flies and Woolly buggers is probably a good start.

Rivers, Lakes and Streams. Larger trout is pretty much what I would be trying to catch and Steelhead. Wet and dry.

Not going to be buying anything for another week or so, so I have time to gather info until then. Just looking around on websites, there is just so much stuff that It's almost impossible to know what to get since I don't know exactly how each feather type is used..
I will be reading up on fly tying and how to videos, but I just posted encase someone had some extra time and wanted to help with my list of things to get.


Active Member
A few thoughts:
Glue? Except in a very few specialized patterns, glue is not required.

Ceramic bobbin: If price is a consideration, a ceramic bobbin is not an absolute necessity. Metal-tube bobbins can last a lifetime without wearing to the point of cutting thread. I have metal bobbins that I've used for thirty years or more.

Whip finisher: Learn to whip finish without a tool. It's actually quicker and easier.

Dubbing hook: I'm not sure what you mean by a dubbing hook. If you mean a tool for spinning a dubbing loop, you can make your own from a length of heavy coat hanger wire bent in the shape of a shepherd's crook. I was shown this trick by Atlantic salmon fly tier Steve Gobin many years ago and have found it to work as well, if not better, than most commercial solutions.

Materials: You'll need to decide what specific patterns you're planning to tie before buying buying your materials; this goes for colors as well. For most Woolly Buggers you'll need chenille and saddle hackles. By "hackle flies" I'm assuming you mean soft hackle patterns and the choices here are almost unlimited. Most traditional soft hackles are tied with floss bodies (though many are now tied with dubbing) in a variety of colors and hackles from a variety of birds; anything from partridge to starling.

Hooks: Here again, hook size and configuration will depend on the particular pattern you plan to tie. Dry flies usually require light wire hooks while heavier wire hooks are suitable for wet flies and nymphs and long shank hooks are required for most streamer patterns.

Keep reading and it'll all begin to fall into place. Good tying!


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One thing I would add to your list is a book of step-by-step patterns. There are many good ones, and people to look for include Hughes and Charlie Craven. Craven has a great web site with SBS. Find a pattern you want to tie, the book or web site will give you the materials to buy, and then it will guide you through it. The book should also have some basic background that is very useful. Good luck! I hope it changes your attitude and approach on fishing like it did with me.

one more thing, Dr. Slick has a kit with some basic tools. They are great tools and you won't be looking to "step up" in quality for a very long time, if ever.
Patrick -

Hooks are a bit tricky for the beginning fly tier to understand. And they represent a considerable investment.

Hook sizes refer to the gap width between hook tip and shank, with smaller hooks having larger numbers. Most hook sizes are in even numbers only, although some specialty hooks come in odd sizes. Beyond that basic, there is a lot more to hooks for specific uses. For example a size 12 hook may be designated "2X long" which means it has a shank as long as a standard hook with a gap two sizes bigger (streamer hooks may be 6X or longer). Similarly, the wire may be extra heavy (for nymphs and streamers, mostly) or extra light (for dry flies). There are also variations in shape of the shank and curve of the hook and whether the eye turns down, up, or is in a straight line with the shank. For most trout fishing purposes, straight shank, down-eye hooks are appropriate.

Mustad hooks are discounted by some folks, but they make good quality, basic trout fishing hooks at a reasonable price (25 hooks for ca. $4-5). I tie most of my flies that I use for trout in moving water on size 12 - 18 hooks. When you figure out what patterns/sizes you tie the most, you can buy hooks in larger quantities to save money, although many fly shops only sell in small packets.

For starters I might recommend the following:
Dry flies: Mustad 94840 (standard length, extra light) sizes 12, 14, 16, 18
Nymphs: Mustad 3906B (2X long, extra heavy) sizes 12, 14, 16, 18



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Richard, you nailed it on the 3906B hooks. I am not convinced there is a better nymph hook available at any price. The new S82-3906B is 3X heavy and 2X long, has a micro barb and is chemically sharpened. I have tied on far more expensive hooks but in my experience none hook and hold any better. And with 25 for under $3 it is always gratifying to get something so good at such a modest price.



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Hackle flies the use yarn, floss, or chenile for the body are an excellent fly to start with. They can be tied small (as in #24,26, etc.), mid-size (as in #12-14), and large (as in #2-4 for steelhead). Hen necks in grizzly, brown, black, grey, and ginger (a light golden brown, but shops will know what you are talking about with these colors) will provide the tail and hackle for the hackle flies. Then just use yarn, chenile, floss, or dubbing for the body. Black, Brown, olive, grey, tan, yellow are good starting colors.

Woolley Buggers use black marabou, black or olive chenile for the body, and black grade 2 Metz (or bass/saltwater/warmwater/strung) saddle hackle. You can add hot beads or florescent chenile in orange, flame, hot pink to this for making Egg-Sucking Leeches, which are nothing more than a Woolley Bugger tied with the bright ball of florescent chenile or the hot bead at the head (front) of the fly.

For thread, I always recommend folks start with one of the 70 denier tying threads, brand your choice. Danville Flymaster, Uni-Thread 8/0, etc. are threads of this type. Buy a spool (or 2) in black and brown and you will be good to tie hundreds of flies.

The hackle flies can be turned into dry flies by simply using dry fly hackle for the tail and hackle instead of hen neck hackle. When tied as a dry fly, the body should be dubbing, floss, or yarn, not chenile because chenile is made from rayon and it both sinks and soaks up a lot of water by design.

You can literally tie the hackle flies with any color hackle and body you wish and as I already mentioned, on any size hook you desire. Woolley Buggers, although usually tied with black or olive chenile bodies with black hackle, and black marabou tail, can also be literally tied with any color hackle, marabou, and body you desire.

Chenile is sold either in small packages or wrapped on a card (or you can buy 144 yards of it by the skein, but a skein of chenile would provide the average fly tyer with enough chenile for several lifetimes). Yarn is sold by the spool, but you can also buy yarn at a craft store or dry goods department of stores like Freddy Myers, Walmart, Target, etc. Floss is sold by the spool.

Mustad hooks are what I always recommend those new to tying buy and use. The don't cost a lot and are decent quality. In fact, back in the 50's through the 80's, they were the standard hook for flies, which includes most of the flies that were available in the fly shops. You will need hooks for wet flies (I'd recommend starting with wet fly hackle flies), and I always tell students to get them in #12,14,and 16. Woolley Buggers use hooks that are 1x or 2x heavy and 4xlong. I'd get them in #4,6, and 8. I wouldn't bother with dry flies for a while, but if you must start tying them in the next month or so, I recommend you get dry fly hooks in #12, 14, and 16. For steelhead, I recommend getting #6's salmon hooks for summer/fall steelhead fishing, and #2, or #1/0 for winter fishing.


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Thank you for taking the time to help me in both my threads. You got me pointed in the right direction.
I will be taking notes of the things you talked about for when I head out to buy my hooks and material. I will probably just go to my local fly shop and get the stuff I need, that way I can see in person what I am getting.
Looking online at the descriptions they give is almost no detail on what you are getting in size. Must have to already pretty much know the standard size that the product comes in to know I guess.
The black grade 2 Metz is super expensive at $65 bucks! :eek: I might try to find a substitute for that one or move on to a fly that doesn't need it. I won't be buying any material until later this month, but when I do and I make a decent looking fly, I will probably post it up to get some feedback on what I have created.

Here is my shopping list for my online order. Since I have to wait and everything else will be bought locally, I decided to get a couple extra spools of other stuff just to throw in my box.
The size 6 thread I got because it can be split for dubbing, adding some gripping texture and the brand seems to be very strong stuff. Unless they just happen to have the same brand at the local shop for the same price, I will just check it out locally.
Trying to get my girlfriend into the hobby so she doesn't get so mad when I want to keep buying more stuff and hopefully I can get her to help with a few bucks for material :rolleyes:

I already got a few spools of ultra wire.

Figured I would do a one time spool buy that should do me good for a long while.
Uni Floss (Red)
Veevus Fly Tying Thread 6/0 (Black)
Veevus Fly Tying Thread 6/0 (Rusty Brown)
Wee Wool Yarn (Black)
Veevus Fly Tying Thread 8/0 (Olive)
Veevus Fly Tying Thread 8/0 (Lt Cahill)
Dr. Slick Dubbing Twister
Dr. Slick Tyer Tool Kit

Anyway. Thank you for helping me
Oh, and I was wondering what glue is good that wont leave a white mess when it dries and is cheap and dries fast?
I planned on getting Sally Hansen's "Hard As Nails" clear nail polish for my finish knots, but for other places, I'm not sure what is really the best cheap stuff to use. I have visions of finishing a fly and ruining it with a dry white mess of super glue.. That is just my experience with super glue. Maybe I was doing something wrong or on the wrong type of material.
Patrick -

When you stop by your local fly shop, look for (or ask about) Whiting Bronze-grade half capes. You can probably find them for about $30-35. Even that may sound like a lot of money, but their feathers are excellent (no need for silver, gold, or platinum grade, in my opinion), and a half cape will tie a lot of flies in a broad range of sizes. Tying good dry flies with cheap feathers will often be a frustrating experience both at the vice and on the water. As you can afford them, I would start with brown and grizzly, and add (medium) dun, black, and cream, as you can afford them.

Beginners Tying Material List
The age old question that's on every new fly tyers mind is "what materials do I buy"? Most experienced tyers usually answer back with "pick out 5-10 patterns you want to tie and buy those materials". I know that is my usual answer.
Another option is to buy a basic fly tying kit that has the tools and materials to at least get a new tyer started in tying flies. The materials in these kits are not always of better quality and are mostly frowned upon by experienced tyers.
Last but not least, another option is to try and provide a beginner fly tyer with a simple list of about 15-20 items that should provide a fair amount of materials to get a new fly tyer going. That is what I am going to attempt. I know there will be a lot of different opinions on what should be a basic list of materials. This list is simply a list based on my experience in fly tying. The list provided below is for a new tyer who wants to tie trout flies but can spill over to different genres of fly tying.
This list is in no order of preference
1. Hooks (in different styles and sizes)
2. Thread (6/0 to start in black & white)
3. Pheasant Tail (center feathers when possible for the longest fibers)
4. Peacock Herl (eye feathers and strung herl)
5. Marabou (blood quills are better)
6. Deer hair
7. Elk hair
8. Buck tail (in different colors like red, yellow, or white)
9. Lead or non-lead wire (in different sizes)
10. Ribbing wire (silver, copper & gold)
11. Rooster Hackle (grizzly, brown, white & dun) A good option is an introduction pack
12. Hen neck or saddle (grizzly, brown, dun etc) (great for soft hackle & wings)
13. Hungarian Partridge Skin (great for soft hackles)
14. Dubbing dispenser of hares ear (various colors)
15. Gray duck or goose wing feathers (used for wing cases)
16. Head cement
17. Tinsel and other flash materials (in assorted colors)
18. Calf tail (start with white)
19. Yarns & chenille (used for making bodies, both in assorted colors)
20. Floss (1 strand or 4 strand in assorted colors)
Please remember the list shown above is relatively simple and should provide a new fly tyer with the materials to tie quite a number of fly patterns.


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Beginners Tying Material List
Thank you for the list of material. I will be ordering most of what you mentioned in the list you provided as a few of the flies I was looking at call for those materials.
A problem I am having is knowing what the different hackles are and what will and will not work for each fly. Seems to be so many different types of feathers that look like they might be able to be used for the same thing, but probably not and that is what I am having a issue with.

Should I get super glue? I bought some Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, but I'm just wondering if I should buy some super glue also?

And for choosing the flies I want to tie, that is becoming difficult.. I looked on a website that has almost 200 flies to chose from, made a list from that and before i knew it, I had about 30 that I wanted to try.. I will figure it out though.
So many flies.., so little money.. :rolleyes:

I found this video here that was very helpful. I think I will start with these videos and do each fly shown. It's a 12 video series. Still having the hackle issue of not knowing the differences.. :oops:



Active Member
Patrick -

When you stop by your local fly shop, look for (or ask about) Whiting Bronze-grade half capes. You can probably find them for about $30-35. Even that may sound like a lot of money, but their feathers are excellent (no need for silver, gold, or platinum grade, in my opinion), and a half cape will tie a lot of flies in a broad range of sizes. Tying good dry flies with cheap feathers will often be a frustrating experience both at the vice and on the water. As you can afford them, I would start with brown and grizzly, and add (medium) dun, black, and cream, as you can afford them.


Will do, thank you :)

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