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Thread: Want to start tying flies

  1. #1
    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Default Want to start tying flies

    I want to start tying flies instead of buying them. I need a list of the essential tools I will need. I already have a vice, just need the rest of the set up. I know the materials will vary depending on what type of fly I am tying. Just looking for the tools. Thanks in advance
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

  2. #2

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    You will need Scissors, a bobbin( atleast 2, it helps.), bobbin threader?, whip finish, and some hackle pliers. That will pretty much set you up with the basics. And you should be able to tie most flies with this set. There are a bunch of specialty stuff, but you can get them as you need them. OH wait one more thing. A dubbing picker is nice to have. It helps fluff the dubbing.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Randall is right on... add to that a bodkin (basically a long thin nail with a handle). At least two bobbins is very handy.

    Get a pair of hackle pliers that has a rubber grip on one side - it'll do you better than the all-metal kind.

    I recommend a least two pairs of scissors - one for cutting wire, lead, thick stuff etc. and one for cutting thread, hackle, etc. (and that stays sharp because you're not cutting wire and lead). I actually like a third larger pair for trimming/shearing hair/wool.

    I use an old toothbrush (with the half the bristles cut short to make them stiffer) for brushing dubbing to make a fuzzier. Also get an old barber's comb or mustache comb for brushing marbou, hair, etc.

    A hair stacker is something else you might want to pick up sometime.

    However you go about it, you'll find that you're buying a lot of material right away. There's definitely a large initial cost but it washes out in the end.

    Not to take away from buying locally, but something I'd definitely recommend looking at ebay as you start acquiring tools and materials. If you've got the time to sort through it all, you can find some great deals. A lot of people auction off their entire lot of tools and materials as they get out of fly tying or whatever. Do a search for "fly tying lot" or "fly tying tools" or "fly tying supplies" etc. - it can be a relatively cheap way to get yourself outfitted quickly with a lot of supplies.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  4. #4

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    Ill second the ebay idea. You can get hooks, beads, tools, and everything else you'll need at some killer prices. I just picked up 100 tungsten beads for like 12 bucks. I like the old toothbrush and barbers comb too.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    also essential




    Seriously though
    I reccomend springing for a class, classes shorten the learning curve quite a bit. Also check out the fly tying mornings that Alaska Fly Fishers Put on
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Tool kits

    Since you already have the vice, I'd look at buying a tool kit that has everything else you need in it. Dr. Slick makes one and there are others. You could check-out Cabelas and Sierra Trading Post, but I would always recommend going local whenever possible. I didn't catch where you live, but if you're in Anchorage, go to Worldwide Anglers and talk to them. I've gone in there many times and just chatted about various things without buying anything and been very well received. I don't think their prices are too out of line either, so it's worth a look. I think Sportsman's Warehouse has a couple of tool kits as well.

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    I started out with one of those "everything included" kits. Start with the easy, often used flies such as wooly buggers, get yourself a beverage and just start doing it. With the amount of resources on the internet all the information is out there. There are even step by step videos on line.
    Good luck and enjoy!

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    If you're in Anchortown the Alaska Flyfishers have monthly fly tying clinics. Having someone go over the basics is well worth the time. Check out their website for dates and directions, and lots of good info on patterns.

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    theres a good article on flyanglersonline.com right now about getting started
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Got on ebay and have a bid going on a huge fly tying lot that might go really cheap, thanks for the advice on that. I've been checking out some videos on youtube and looking at some different books. I'm gonna get one corner of my house all set up for doing this. Would be a good way to pass the time in the winter with a tall glass of rasberry wheat or winter ale.
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

  11. #11
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    So you're the %^#&)@ bidding against me!!! ...kidding

    A couple of final thoughts on acquiring materials - more on the long term, but a few ideas. You'll always need to purchase materials from time to time, but a lot of materials can be acquired cheap and in bulk if you're resourceful.

    If you're a hunter, or know one (pretty good chance either way around here) then you'll have lots of opportunity to add to your material supplies.

    Every time I shoot a new bird species, I pluck a bird or two, snip off the wings (let 'em dry out a bit) and then store it in a ziploc bag. Besides the fly tying staples like mallards and pheasants, grouse, ptarmies, chukar, other ducks, etc all have unique feathers that can be turned into awesome fish-slaying flies.

    Same thing with hunting - shoot a moose or bou or deer or whatever, cut off a couple of slabs of hide (get some long hair off the mane, some side hair, some belly hair) salt it and dry it until the hide's a rock and you've got a lifetime (or close enough) supply. I'm still tying muddlers and caddis from deer and elk I killed a decade ago.

    Get to know your local taxidermists - often they have scraps of hide to the fly-tyer's delight. And spread the word among your fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

    The coarse hair on the bottom of snowshoe hares' feet has an awesome water resistant oil that makes great dry fly dubbing. Depending on where the bunny's living his feet will have various shades of color - from blue dun to cream. Don't forget the face mask (various times of year yield brown to gray to white in color).

    Pine squirrel tails are perfect for muddler wings and lots of other streamers.

    Pine marten were almost made for fly tying - from orange to cream to brown to gray they are an amazing source of dubbing, and their tales are top notch for streamers and wings.

    Fox, muskrat, beaver, etc. - they're all useful. (Haven't tied a fly with wolverine yet... some day.) Polar bear, arctic fox and seal all are awesome if you can get your hands on some.

    I am not above salvaging roadkill on occasion.

    PS - I'm a big fan of winter ale. and IPAs. and pretty much - well - beer. They all go well with tying.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    So you're the %^#&)@ bidding against me!!! ...kidding

    A couple of final thoughts on acquiring materials - more on the long term, but a few ideas. You'll always need to purchase materials from time to time, but a lot of materials can be acquired cheap and in bulk if you're resourceful.

    If you're a hunter, or know one (pretty good chance either way around here) then you'll have lots of opportunity to add to your material supplies.

    Every time I shoot a new bird species, I pluck a bird or two, snip off the wings (let 'em dry out a bit) and then store it in a ziploc bag. Besides the fly tying staples like mallards and pheasants, grouse, ptarmies, chukar, other ducks, etc all have unique feathers that can be turned into awesome fish-slaying flies.

    Same thing with hunting - shoot a moose or bou or deer or whatever, cut off a couple of slabs of hide (get some long hair off the mane, some side hair, some belly hair) salt it and dry it until the hide's a rock and you've got a lifetime (or close enough) supply. I'm still tying muddlers and caddis from deer and elk I killed a decade ago.

    Get to know your local taxidermists - often they have scraps of hide to the fly-tyer's delight. And spread the word among your fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

    The coarse hair on the bottom of snowshoe hares' feet has an awesome water resistant oil that makes great dry fly dubbing. Depending on where the bunny's living his feet will have various shades of color - from blue dun to cream. Don't forget the face mask (various times of year yield brown to gray to white in color).

    Pine squirrel tails are perfect for muddler wings and lots of other streamers.

    Pine marten were almost made for fly tying - from orange to cream to brown to gray they are an amazing source of dubbing, and their tales are top notch for streamers and wings.

    Fox, muskrat, beaver, etc. - they're all useful. (Haven't tied a fly with wolverine yet... some day.) Polar bear, arctic fox and seal all are awesome if you can get your hands on some.

    I am not above salvaging roadkill on occasion.

    PS - I'm a big fan of winter ale. and IPAs. and pretty much - well - beer. They all go well with tying.
    And don't forget you own cats and dogs, or your friends cats and dogs as source material.

    I used to brush my chocolate lab, take the fur, fluff it in a coffee grinder and use it as dubbing. The fur from his tail was course enough to use as is for some fly patterns.

  13. #13
    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Awesome advice. I will start keeping the hides of all the critters I kill from now on. Keeps the tips coming, I need all I can get!!!
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

  14. #14

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    Be advised that if you are going to use "road kill" materials (even if they were not off the road) BE SURE you do not bring in a million little bugs that will destroy your whole inventory! Most wild stuff will have some. Like said before, dry your material out well (away from the rest of your materials. I use the garage) then to be sure, I put it in the microwave for a short time. Once in a while you will hear the little pop,pop of creatures that you would have never seen. Once you have ruined several hundred dollars worth of store bought material by bringing in something from the woods, you will think twice before doing it again. Been there, done that!

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    A friend advises quarteening all new fly tying materials before bringing them in the house, this includes stuff from e-bay auctions. He says toss them in a trash bag with some moth balls for a week and you'll be good to go.

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    Raptor 1,
    If you can stop by 3 Rivers on Sat. mornings whilst we are tying you can see and test out tools that we might have and get some hands on advise.

    George

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    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    George, planning on making a trip down to the Kenai on Sat to see if there is any open/fishable water. Any other times you'll be doing this?
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

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    I also think a pair of needle nose pliers are handy to keep around. I use them to de-barb all my hooks. Just de-barb before you tie incase the hook breaks . But that is if you fish catch and release. Epoxy is also nice, especially if you fish for toothy fish that will destroy a fly with one bite...

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