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How to tie your flies on

Last Updated: 01.12.23

There are several reasons why you might want to tie your own flies, which can include lowering expenses and becoming more involved in the sport. Being able to tie your own flies can also give you a sense of accomplishment, especially when you catch a fish. While tying flies might seem relatively easy it is a continual learning process and the informative tips listed below can help you get started with the basics.


Types of flies

Before you start tying your own flies it is important to become familiar with the different types. Dry flies are often considered fun for fishermen to use, since they can see the fish take the floating bait. Unlike wet flies which sink below the surface, dry ones float on top of the water. While there are more patterns for dry flies than wet ones, it is important that you learn how to tie both types.

Some anglers believe knowing how to tie nymphs is crucial if you want to be successful at fly fishing. Since it is estimated that fish found in streams get up to 95 percent of their diet from insects that are in the nymphal stage, it is easy to see why this is an important type of fly to learn how to tie. There are also streamers which mimic smaller bait fish, and knowing how to tie this fly is important if you want to reel in larger catches.



There are different hooks designed to be used with specific types of flies, but all have an eye, shank, bend, point and gap. The gap is the distance between the point of the hook and shank, which is where the fly is tied on. The amount of bend will determine which flies it will work best with, along with the angle and shape of the eye. Hooks also come in a variety of sizes and weights, and often the type of fish you are casting for will help you choose the right one. While it is not necessary to own every type of hook, it is a good idea to have a few different styles so you are always ready to go.



A vise is a helpful tool that holds the hook while you are tying the fly. There are several types of vises to choose from, with a variety of useful features. It should be noted that the number of features will affect the price, but it is possible to find an inexpensive vise that is still capable of holding a variety of hooks. To ensure you can easily work with small and large hooks the jaws should be positioned at a comfortable angle, and also be adjustable. A vise with a rotating head is a nice feature and can make it easier to tie flies onto smaller hooks, but it can also significantly increase the price. The vise should also be able to be securely placed, and most come with a supportive stand or clamp.


Fly tying tools

There are also some tools that are recommended if you are planning on tying your own flies that will make the process easier. A bobbin not only holds the thread, it also keeps the line taut so you can tie neat, tight flies. Scissors are necessary for cutting threads and wire line, which means you might have to invest in a couple of pairs. The scissors should be comfortable to use, and sharp enough to make a clean cut.

Small hackle pliers make it easier to wrap feathers around the hook for specific types of flies, and some even rotate so the material can be completely wrapped around. Bodkins are also convenient tools to have, and can help keep gunk and debris out of the eye. Other fun and useful tools also include hair stackers, hackle guides and bullet heads, but these are generally only necessary for tying complex flies.



Once you are familiar with the different flies and the materials you need it is time to start tying your own. Most experts recommend taking a few classes or investing in “how to guides”. While the best way to learn how to tie flies is through trial and error, a quick class or online lesson can help you get started. Just remember you don’t need to learn how to tie every fly at once, simply start with the one best suited for what you are fishing for.


Watch this video for a better understanding



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