Fly Tying Materials: Keeping Organized
Hey guys. I'm going to be learning to tie flies this winter, and I thought of a good question. I'll will have alot of material and tools and such, so how should I keep them organized? How do you guys do it? Should I keep the materials in bags when not using them? Thanks!
Definitely keep the materials in their original bags after you cut off the material you need. You'll be amazed how many different materials you need and how easy it is to confuse them, plus they'll get damaged if they're not in bags.
I simply keep mine in the bottom of a large plastic tool box, and use the tray in the top to store the tools and smaller items like hooks. I'm a pretty rookie tyer and I don't have a ton of stuff though, so I don't need a ton of space!
Cool, thanks for the help. :) Did you start with a kit? If so, what type? I was thinking of this one: <non-sponsor link removed by admin>
EDIT: Well, ok, if the admin. is going to remove my link, could someone please suggest me a good kit?
Hi Bryce, a think you should consider what kind of flies are you going to start with, beginners use to tie streamers first, because its size is bigger and you certainly will need to develop some skill with your fingers before you try with smaller ones.
Most kit come with assortted materials for many different patterns, perhaps some of them will never be used.
I suggest you go to a serious fly shop and request a bounch of materials to tie just streamers. Woolly Bugger is the common start.
A short list for this pattern includes:
Hook: Mustad 9672 or similar
Thread: Monocord 6/0
Marabou feathers (any colour you like)
Chenille medium (matching the marabou)
Flashabou (pearl is best)
Saddle Hackle (long and webby)
Once you are agree with this fly, take a pattern index and try another. Go back to the shop with a list of material for that fly and go ahead again.
Fly tying kits are for the most part not a good value. They almost always have inferior vises and other tools, materials that you have not need for (and doubtfully ever will), hooks in sizes you don't need, etc.
The best way to get into fly tying is by first purchasing a good quality vise. This doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on it. The Thompson Model A (the original draw cam vise) or Thompson Pro are both good vises and they sell for around $60.00 give or take a little. Griffin offers several good ones. The Griffin Model 1A sells for about $35.00, and is also available in a tool kit that includes the 1A vise, good scissors, hair stacker, bobbin, and bodkin for about $55.00. The Griffin 2A is a little larger with slightly larger jaws (if you are going to tie large flies of #4 and larger it is a better choice than the 1A), it sells for about $50.00. It is also availabe in a tool kit with the 2A vise, good scissors, hair stacker, bobbin, bodkin for about $65.00. The Danvise is another good choice for about $75.00 and the the lowest priced, quality rotary vise on the market. Granted, the Danvise is partly made of Delrin (the jaws are steel); but they are well-made and have a good reputation for holding up over time.
All of the vises listed in the paragraph above have excellent jaws, hold hooks very well, are easily adjusted for different hook sizes, hold up well over time, and have good reputations for being decent quality. Also, replacement parts for all of them are readily available so in the rare event that something wears out for the average new tyer, it can be replaced.
The worst thing to do is buy one of the cheap imported vises from India or China. On the surface these vises look like a good deal because they are very low in price; unfortunately, they don't hold up, have jaws that don't hold hooks properly (i.e. the hook will slip unless the jaw is adjusted to be overly tight, which can also break hooks), and as a result are very poor value.
The tools you need are: (1) a good vise (see the ones I recommended above); (2) a good pair of scissors (cheap ones are false ecomony), which run between $8.00 and $14.00 (Gudebrod, Thompson, and Griffin all have good scissors for this price range); (3) at least one good thread bobbin (to hold your thread spool as you tie the fly0 and prefereable two bobbins (you put different size or colors of thread in them making tying faster) [some good lower cost bobbins are: S&M about $7.50 and one of mine and AK Best's favorite bobbins, Griffin wire bobbin about $10.00, or Thompson wire bobbin about $10.00. There are some others; but this will give you an idea of brands]; (4) a bodkin [they sell for between $1.50 and $7.00 and are nothing more than a needle in a handle used to apply glue and pick out dubbing]; and (5) a whip finisher [the Materelli is considered by most pro tyers to be the best; but there are other brands on the market now that are of the same general type], the Materelli sells for about $15.00.
You can get a hackle gauge if you wish because one makes sizing dry fly hackle much easier and quicker; but you don't need one. Also, you can get a hair stacker; but unless you are going to be tying hair wing dries, you really don't need it either.
As far as materials go, the best thing to do is get the materials to tie 1 or 2 simple flies that you will be using and hooks in 2 or 3 sizes to tie these flies. Flies such as the Woolley Bugger, Grey Hackle, Brown Hackle, Hare's Ear Nymph, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and similar simple ones are the best ones to learn fly tying on. These flies have tails, bodies of yarn, chenile, or peacock herl, and hackle, and nearly all flies have tails, bodies, and hackle so it will be easy to move on and add other fly parts, such as ribbing and wings after you master tying the simple ones without wings.
Buying materials and hooks to tie flies that you will use prevents you from getting material you will never use and keeps your expenditures on materials and hooks very low. For instance, a Woolley Bugger requires black marabou, black chenile, black webby saddle hackle, and #4 -#10 4XL hooks. A Grey Hackle Yellow requires red yarn, yellow chenile or yarn, grizzly hackle, and #10-#16 hooks. To tie a Grey Hackle Peacock, all you need is to add peacock herl, and for a Brown Hackle, all you need do is add brown hackle. And you can tie any color variation of body and hackle in Woolley Buggers, Grey Hackles, and Brown Hackle you wish. And the best part of doing it this way is you will have flies that you will use and that work.
You ought to plan on tying 5 or so dozen of each one. Say you start with the Grey hackle with a yellow yarn or chenile body, tie 2 dozen of them in say size #12 (a good size to start with) before you tie one in a Size #14 or before tying a Woolley Bugger. Tying 2 dozen of the same size before moving on to a different fly helps you learn the techniques needed and will make tying the next pattern much easier.
The best place to get the materials, hooks, thread (as a minimum you need black in both 3/0 and 6/0 to get started), vise, and other tools is a fly shop. A PM, email, or call to one of our sponsor shops will get you what you need.
I've just started aswell. Don't get one of those benches, they're to expensive and are unfulfilling to say the least. I use tupperware ;)
Hey BB, from another new NC fly tier, you're getting some good counsel from the guys. I tied on forceps for a while-YIKES can't believe I was so cheap! Just getting into it, I was also unsure if I would enjoy the whole gamut of feather chucking. I do! and now I have the basics- not the best yet, mind you but a definite step up and in the right direction. My flies look TONS better and much more like real flies versus a pinch of dead birds and rat's nest on a hook! LOL! They also catch fish and I'm tailoring recipes to my local waters-i.e.-shorter rubber legs on the spiders or mixing black and white legs on the same fly, contrast and colors of feathers used, going to smaller hooks/flies for more hookups. That kind of thing. I home built a lap top box about 16 inches across, 5 deep and 6 wide with legs to sit across my knees while I tie. It has a cross bar on top about 1/3rd the way from the left side to clamp my vice onto. Holds the tools, hooks, eyes, glues and stuff and I keep the fur and feathers in small portions in ziplocks in a clear plastic cookie tub; neatly standing the ziplocks like files in a drawer.
Two ideas you might can use.
One is FREE supplies- they are where you find them. One being chickens-we have all kinds. Surely, someone you know or somwhere out in the country is a farm with chickens. Just ask. Hey, I'll mail you plenty if you like. The other is roadkill fur. Yep, it's disgusting, but I have collected, two fox tails, squirrel tails and two deer tails just since August and have plenty for lots of flies. Just cut the tails off and ziplock and freeze till needed. Birds are a different story since most species are protected. No Spotted Owl Streamers, please. Pet shops are full of birds that molt. Then of course support your local flyshop. They have the skinny on what to tie for your area.
The other idea and readily available is the search feature here or scoll to the bottom of these posts and see the similar ones listed if you have not already done so. HTH. and good luck tying.
Thanks for the help, guys! :) Much appreciated. Keep the suggestions coming!
Store your materials in baggies and mark them as to content. A tool box is an excelent suggestion for starting out. Eventually, you may need to have two or more "tool box storage" one for feathers, one for furs, one for synthetics etc. etc.
A few more thoughts since Flytier and others have covered to topic very well.
Join a local tying club if possible or find a local tier to teach you his tricks, great folks who will share tehir knowledge as well as their material.
Go to your local library (after doing a search on this board for suggested tying books/patterns) and read up on tying. One I highly recommend is "The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference to Techniques and dressing styles" by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer- ISBN # 1-57188-126-3.
Kep posting requests for specific patterns that you are tying, lots of folks around here will help you.
Make sure you have fun and EXPERIMENT on your own, e.g. tie variations of a particular pattern, try different materials, color schemes etc.
And this one has been mentioned but is worth repeating, patronize your local shop and forum sponsors. Tying on the cheap just does not work and it can ruin an otherwise great hobby. Most shops and all of the sponsors that I've dealt with have been most helpfull in providing good quality and prices with free advice to boot.
Inexpensive rings to hang shower curtains
Buy alot of these. You will use them to sort and/or
hang your materials that are stored in plastic bags.
A good source of light will enhance your time at the bench, improve your outcomes and assist you in organizing and cleaning a space that can get out of hand in no time.
A seat that will provide good support and put your nose level with the tip of your vise. This will reduce neck strain.
Hooks are a major expense. Start with good quality ie. Mustads before you spend the big bucks on other brands.
There are some good videos out there. Check with your local fly shop
Great Matterial Storage
I have been tying for about 20 years, and have tried many different types of storage. The best thing that I have found is a 3 ring binder method. I started out with gallon size ziplocks and punched 3 holes down the sides and put them in the binder. I now have a book case full of 3 ring binders. I have a binder for Hackle, one for natural fur, one for synthetics, one for deer hair, one for marabou, etc........................ Recently I have purchased a bunch of pencil pockets in the school supply section..... they already have the holes, and have a nice zipper opening.
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