Alright I give up! Riddler challenged me to do an article on Fly Tying. Let me start of by saying that I don’t consider myself an expert or a good tyer. I started tying flies 30 years ago for the sole reason of saving money. The Deer Hair Poppers I was using to catch Bass on cost 5 bucks. This is 30 years ago- 5 bucks for a popper! I decieded I had to learn to tie these bugs. I bought a cheap beginners kit from Orvis. It consisted of a vise, bobbin, whip finisher, bodkin and hackle pliers, along with assorted threads, hooks and tying materials.
The instruction manual went into the trash...
and I was off and running. The first flies I tied where horrible. Even though they still caught fish. Finally after years of trial and a lot of errors I became what I call a functional fly tyer. Today 90% of the flies I tie are for stripers. They are all impressionistic flies rather than realistic. Meaning they give the impression of the real thing. None of the flies I tie are original. They are copies of another fly and have been somewhat altered by me to fit my style of tying or specific fishing application. All except Lefty’s Sucky Slider. That one is all mine. It will get field tested this spring on Joppa Flats. It was designed especially for those finicky flats bass that drove me nuts last June.
This is a beginners article so let’s begin with the tools your going to need to start.
Vice – This holds the hook that enables you to tie the fly. You can get a vice for as little as 30 bucks and as much as $500. I suggest a middle of the road vice for $ 90 to $100. This will last you for years and thousands of flies.
Bobbin - this holds the thread and guides the wraps on the fly. Cheap tool. You can get a decent one for $5.
Bodkin - Needle like tool for applying lacguer and glue to flies. Cheap also. I like the ones that have the bobbin threading tool on them.
Scissors - used to cut thread and trim material.
Whip finisher - this tool finishs the head and secures the final wraps on a fly. Makes a nice knot.
Hackle pliers - This tool holds a hackle feather securely so you can wrap the feather around the hook shank.
Materials – Your going to need stuff to build the fly you want to tie. The list is endless be it Natural or Synthetic. I suggest just buying the material needed to tie the specificfly of choice.
Glue or Lacquer - use to finishfly and hold wraps on.
First of all let me say that there is nothing in fishing that compares with catching a fish on a fly that you tied yourself. Nothing!! The first fish I ever caught on one of my own flies was a Pickerel about a foot long. I remember jumping around like a nut. Hootin and Hollering! Man! What a feeling! 30 years later I still get that same feeling but I’ve learned to contain myself a little better. Sometimes! To date my biggest fly caught fish is a 43 1/2" Striper on a fly I tied. Needless to say I made some noise that day!
Okay it would take me a month to type out how to tie. So I’ll do a fly with step by step pictures. The Mystic Minnow is a good fly to start. The Mystic minnow is tied with Farrar’s Slinky Fiber Flash Blend.
- Secure hook in vice and wrap thread starting at the eye and wrapping back along shank approx. 1/4" from eye.
Step 2 - Place a 1/8" bundle of slinky fiber on shank and make 4 wraps towards hookpoint. Then fold over and make 4 wraps forward. Put a dab of glue on wraps after every bunch. I also like to throw in a couple half hitches in to secure the wraps.
- Do the same as step 2 on the bottom of hook in the same place. Be sure to place material over hook point in center of the bunch. Continue steps 2 and 3 working your way to the eye. I end at 1/8" from eye. Step 4
- Take a bokin and dip it in softex and run the bodkin through the fly and along both sides. I then run my fingers from the eye along the body fo the fly working the softex into the fly.
Step 5 - Trim fly to desired shape and add eyes. I like to dip the head of the fly in Softex to secure wraps and eyes. That’s it, the Mystic Minnow.
This article shows the basic tools to tie flies and how to tie one particular fly. My Favorite by the way. If your serious about tying I suggest taking a beginners class or buying a book on this subject. I hope you get something out of this and I’ll see you in my yak on the water.