Beginner Fly Tying Materials? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Beginner Fly Tying Materials?

12-25-2002, 01:39 AM
Where would be the best place to pick up some beginner fly tying materials? A friend gave me a complete set of fly tying tools and now I need to find some materials to start. I have no idea where to start of what to get. I am on a rather small budget to start. Does anyone know of any materials kits for sale online? I found a few on ebay but most of them come with tools. I would like to start tying my own flies but I donít want it to be more expensive than just going out and buying them. Thanks for the help.

12-25-2002, 01:35 PM
Andrew, if you do a search you will find lots of good adive pertaining to the best way to begin fly tieing.
My sugestion is to avoid kits as they present a fairly poor value. The materials are usually not that great.
A better way to go would be to get a starter book that has flies relivent to you and buy the materials as you need them for specific patterns. This way you can buy good materials that you will use, and not have to fight with junky stuff and left overs from patterns you will never tie. Kaufman's(a sponsor of the site) offers kits that work with Randal Kaufmans books. This is a good value, but not cheap. For learning to tie trout flies, his books are my favorite. The Skip Morris books are good too, and your local fly shop, or one of our sponsors could put together the materials for the first patterns, and then add on as you need.
A kit is best for people that aren't sure that they will get into it. If they don't like tieing, it's only 70 bucks down the drain. If you think that you will get into it, get off to a good start with good materials. You will save time and money in the end, while tieing better flies and enjoying yourself more.

12-25-2002, 02:59 PM
Thanks Eddie,
I think I will just buy as I go along that sounds like the best idea. I have a local fly shop that has some good deals on fly tying materials. Thanks,

12-25-2002, 03:02 PM
Kaufmans steelhead kit got me started in 1980, and I see now that they have added many other types. Not sure what type of fish you are primarily targetting they will probably have one that fits your needs. Then you will have to buy the specific materials for the flys you need from your a local fly shop probably. Now we have so many choices to buy materials from over the net. Up unitil a few years ago we would wait for each supplier to send its annual material catalog from which you would pick and send a mail order in.

Since you already have some of the tools and these kits include these make sure you are not buying things you already have. Possibly they will sell just the materials to you if that is all you need.

Good luck with your tying, let us know when you catch a fish on one of your own ties, always a big thrill for a new fly tyer.

Just remember you can never enough material or enough flys.:D

PM Out

12-25-2002, 04:26 PM
Andrew -

Hope you are having a great holiday. Tying material can be free or prohibitively expensive depending on what you are tying, and what you are tying for.

If I recall, you are mostly targeting warmwater species like bass, correct?

If so, dark and/or natural rabbit strips, some large chenille, hackles, and some bronze streamer hooks should be more than enough. These are very inexpensive materials.

If not, let us know what you are tying for and maybe we could advise on the most affordable yet effective materials to invest in.

I will mail you a sampler - should I just send it to you c/o your school?

12-25-2002, 10:24 PM
You Said : "I would like to start tying my own flies but I donít want it to be more expensive than just going out and buying them."

Let me share some of my life experience about tying flies. Something I have been doing for over 45 years.

I first got into it because my dad forced me to do so or else I would not go fly fish. Motivation enough for me at the time. For the last 35+ years, it has become my favourite hobby. Like painting is to others. It's the idea of creating something from fur & feathers and then getting Mr. Trout or Mr. Bass to come and taste it!

I would strongly encourage you to "get into it" and I also need to encourage you to think of fly tying as a way to create a life long hobby rather than as a money saving venture. Quite honestly, if I were to tally up all the $$ spent as a result of tying flies Vs. the actual number of flies "FISHED", I must be in the hole real deep.

So if your only intent is to be less expensive than buying commercial flies, I don't beleive it will work out that way, not in the short run anyway.

My suggestion is to join a local fly tying club or attend the many "learn to tie" opportunities that are offered at local & regional FF shows. Many of the folks who belong to these clubs will gladly help out in learning tips & techniques. Also, many of them will often buy materials in bulk and share the cost and savings with fellow tiers.

My further suggestion is to post the specific type of fly you want to tie and ask for suggested materials and sources for them. Over time you will accumulate much of the materials you need and be in a position to return the favour to another "newbie" in the tying community, but most importantly you will meet up with new buddies who share your interest, and soon after, your enthusiasm and lastly your passion for the hobby.

I have taught tying to a great many folks over the years and many are now outstanding tyers, many more are casual tyers and most of them enjoy the relaxation of tying, either alone or at the fishing clave with a few other buddies.

If bass bugs are your thing, then deer hair is a must. So hook up with a buddy who hunts and you will have a life long supply of various parts of deer skins and duck feathers like mallard breast & wood duck flank etc and rabbit skins etc. I hope that no one is offended with my mention of hunting but it has been a source of mucho materials for many years.

Have fun tying, be creative in your efforts, use your imagination and catch a few fish along the way.

Lastly, ask on this board if any tyers will sell their creations to you, I'm sure some will actually donate a few flies to get you started and then you can slecet what you want to buy either from forum members or at your local shop. Look up the archive of flies as a starter.

12-26-2002, 04:42 PM

I have been tying flies for 41 years and have tied commercially several times for several years each time. The folks who have posted prior to myself on the necessity of knowing what tyopes of flies you are going to or wish to begin tying cannot be overemphasized. Without this vital piece of information, non of us are able to give you the specific information you are requesting.

The best way to go about buying material is exactly as has already been mentioned; decide what flies you want to tie and then buy the materials needed to tie them. Start with say 5 or 6 flies, buy the material for them, and then add more materials as you find the need to expand the flies you are tying.

Also, never, ever buy the cheap, inferior materials, they are false economy. This means if you want to tie dry flies, buy a quality grade #3 genetic neck (like virtually all the really good commercial tyers do because they have the hackle sizes most used and are far less expensive than a grade #1 neck or Whiting Saddle) or half neck and not the India Dry Fly necks that are next to worthless. Welcome to the feather benders fraternity.

12-26-2002, 05:21 PM
You can also get many useful materials from craft and fabric stores, where you will pay much less than you would at the fly fishing shop. You just need to make sure that any colored materials use dyes that will not run when the material gets wet.


12-26-2002, 06:02 PM
Try to mooch some materials and advise from friends first. Most of us have more stuff than we can shake a whip finisher at. That includes equipment too. Most of us have surplus tools lying around. What's left purchase as per recommendations.

12-26-2002, 11:00 PM
Thank you all for the responses. I am primarily targeting trout and bass. I went to the fly shop and craft store and picked up some supplies to make a "Prince Coachman" fly just to get myself started. I think I will just start off small and add to my collection. All the supplies i needed today came to a grand total of $11.50. The majority of the cost was for the Whiting Bugger pack used for the bodies. Everyone has been a great help and I really appreciate it. On another note when I stated that I didn't want to pay more than just going to the store and buying a fly I simply meant that I didnít want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on supplies such as $40 for hackle. Thanks,

12-26-2002, 11:37 PM

One of the best ays to avoid putting out over $40.00 for hackle is buying #3 genetic necks, which can be had for around $35.00. The half neck #3's can be had for around $22.00. An even better way to keep the cost down is to buy the Whiting 100 packs. They have enough of Whiting's genetic dry fly saddle to tie at least 100 flies in each package. Just buy them by the size fly you are going to tie.

For wet flies, genetic hen necks are superior, and they have the added advantage of being less than $20.00 (some sell for as little as $12.00).

You will find that as you tie flies over the years, your collection of material will simply grow because you will continue to buy material that you need for a fly and you will get into tying different types of flies that require different materials. Then one day you will do an inventory of your materials because your wife will want to know how much money you have tied up in them and you will be surprised to find that you have several thousand dollars of materials. It takes most people 20+ years to get to that point though.

12-26-2002, 11:41 PM
Another thing that I forgot to add was I was tossing around the Idea to start fly tying at my high schools fishing club. Is this something that is feasible or would everyone need to have their own vise and tools? Would this hold peoples interest like it does mine? Just a thought.

12-27-2002, 10:17 AM
Andrew, Happy Holidays.

I guess I misunderstood part of your club's intent, earlier on, but I thought tying would be an integral part of the club's operations and membership involvement. I don't think everyone needs to own individual equipment right away; tying 'teams' could share equipment; members could then learn whether they have enough interest in tying to go and get their own tools and such.

Why don't you have a meeting, present your ideas, maybe take your stuff with you for a demonstration and listen to the responses before you start thinking about where to get tools for the group. If anyone owns a book on tying, bring it, let people look through it; find a couple websites you could steer people to for their curiosity, etc.

I also agree with starting "pattern specific" to keep costs down. My $.02. YMMV.

12-27-2002, 01:52 PM
Sounds like a good game plan. The reason for the club not solely focusing on fly-fishing is that I live in San Diego, CA where the majority of the kids here have grown up on ocean fishing and have never touched a fly rod. We definitely incorporate fly-fishing into our curriculum it is just hard to get some people started on it.

12-28-2002, 01:03 AM
To pick up some free material for fly tying, look no further than your christmas tree... :D
There's tensil, floss, wires, threads and material for dubbing in christmas stockings...
Most bows are mylar and can be used in place of ribbings, just cut to width and tie.
Artificial pine needles work well in extended body flies too, glitter from the "FROSTED CHRISTMAS BELL" mixed with dubbing gives an extra sparkle to the caddis fly.
I have raided the trees of my family for over twenty years, a peice here, a pinch there... The bounty is endless.
It's all there for the asking.

12-28-2002, 01:05 AM
I am impressed! Very creative! Thanks for the hints.