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kyhnau 11-15-2007 03:38 PM

Ineffective tying
How do you guys structure your fly-tying while preparing a bonefish trip?
I've been tying the last couple of evenings, but im very ineffective. I end up "playing" with different patterns, different colors, different size, different eyes, with and without sili-legs etc.

I have tied about 15 flies - only 2 of which are exactly the same.
I spend more time figuring out how to "twist" existing patterns than the actual tying.

Do you select a few patterns and creat X number of each in diffent sizes/weights?
Beside beeing very time consuming, above approach results in a very messy looking fly box :hihi:

Please share your thoughts

kyhnau 11-15-2007 04:02 PM

To illustrate my point:


flytyer 11-15-2007 05:01 PM

Ever since I was 14 (which was 40 years ago) and a 63 years old professional fly tyer named Leon Wronski who I met, got to know, and had mentor me, I have never tied fewer than 6 flies of one pattern and size at a time (the only exception to this is married wing classics). Leon constantly emphasized how important it was to maximize the time at the vise by tying flies in 1/2 dozen or full dozen lots of the same pattern and size. He said (and I agree completely with this) that tying a 1/2 dozen or full dozen of a single pattern and size of flies you use (or are tying for someone else), you will spend less time tying them, their quality will be very good, and you will always have a sufficient number of them for going fishing.

Since you've already found out Leon's other reason for insisting on tying 6-12 flies of the same pattern and size at a time, namely very little time wasted, you sound like someone looking for a better way to get your boxes filled in the time you have available for tying. Therefore, I humbly recommend that you tie at least 6 of a pattern and size you will be fishing before experimenting with changes. If you do so, you will be surprised at how quickly you get the flies you need tied. Then you will have a lot of time to mess around and experiment without worrying about having enough flies to fish with.

I forgot to mention that Leon also had a thing about getting the materials out on the tying table to tie the fly before putting the first hook in the vise. This little tidbit of having only the materials to tie one fly out and ready on the tying table before putting the first hook in the vise will save you a lot of time. If you do this, once you begin tying that fly pattern, there will be no wasted time looking for the next material because it will already by out on the table waiting for you to tie it on the fly. And finishing the 6-12 flies of that pattern, put the materials for it away and get out all the materials for the next pattern.

You will be pleasantly surprised at how many more flies you can tie in the same amount of time by doing these simple things.

jimS 11-15-2007 08:50 PM

Flytyer provides some sage advice on tying multiple flies of the same size and configuration. Laying out the material in advance is also a good technieque used by the profesiionals. One other advantage to tying 6-12 each of one pattern/size is that with quantity, the quality improves. My rule of thumb on new patterns is that it generally takes tying one fly six times to get a constant quality.

Consistency also is a function of paying attention to detail. As an example, when I get materials ready for a particular pattern, e.g. clousers, synthetic material length and quantity are identical for the batch being tied.

nmbrowncom 11-16-2007 05:07 AM

in my limited experience i have found that bonefish are a little like trout in that they tend to key in on a particular size and color due to water depth, light, and current. i tend to tie my flies in 3 weights so that i have a choice of fly depending on the water depth and current. i tie 5 or 6 flies in each pattern/weight. i also tie up some larger brighter flies for those days when wind, current and water turbulence make visibility (for the fish) an issue. those larger patterns i usually tie in 1 or 2 weights. likewise, for those days when the water is calm and shallow, the sun bright and the current slow, (and thus the fish spooky as hell) i tie smaller flies without weight so as to present softly without spooking the fish. in such conditions i want to have 3 different shades of fly depending on the color of the sand. i.e. bright and shiny, light tan, and light brown. i think that jims' and flytyers' advice on the actual tieing is spot on. if nothing else, follow their advice. it will make the whole fly tieing experience more enjoyable and productive.

petevicar 11-16-2007 06:18 AM

The advice from Flytyer is very good.

I can understand where you are coming from. I have suffered from the same syndrome.
The problem only really becomes apparent when you start fishing.
You have a box full of different flies, which fly do you choose?
You find a fly that works and then you either lose it or a fish destroys it, what do you do now?
By all means tie variations but make sure that you have enough of each type.

kyhnau 11-17-2007 02:57 AM

Thanks a lot for all of your advices!
Its very encouraging to receive such input.
Im allready on my way to the vice, looking very forward to tie a bunch.

Im a little short on hooks, so the six-piece-at-a-time approach must be the way to go. I've decided to start with size 4 gotchas with clear/orange sili legs. I will let you know how I get away with it.

Since Im tieing at a small collapsible kitchen table (humble conditions - I know :chuckle: ) the point about lying the materials out ready in advance is even more reasonable. I will definately do that.

I have 6 weeks to take-off, means there is still time to tie a bunch. Further, I've decided to bring a vice and a selection of materials. I'll be on the road for almost 3 months so I guess I'll eventually run short on flies regardless how many I tie in advance. My goal must be to fill the box with a good selection of basic patterns (which leaves gotchas with sili legs as basic pattern ;) ). I will have plenty of time to experience "out there" and adjust the flies to "local conditions" :smokin:

Thanks again!

kyhnau 11-18-2007 06:29 AM

Ok - Im rolling now :tongue:

First, make a mess:

Then clean it up and organize:

Decide a specific pattern:

Tie at least half a dozen at same configuration


flytyer 11-18-2007 04:41 PM


This is exactly what myself and others were talking about. And if you know you are going to need several dozen of each fly and size, you can go about tying them in batches of 12 per tying sessions. You will be amazed at how quickly you will have all the flies you need, and your tying area will stay neat as well.

kyhnau 11-20-2007 02:46 PM

I got your point and I agree, thanks!
Well, I might need to several dozen of the above "killer" in size 6 :hihi:
I think the bones will go crazy on it...


Trevor B 11-20-2007 06:21 PM

Tying up a dozen or half dozen of one patern is also a lot more economical material wise as well, and like everyone is saying the quality and consistancy improves quickly as well, if I ever try to flip around on paterns I usually end up in a hell of a mess !
Ps your flies look good to me :)

kyhnau 11-21-2007 09:09 AM

Thanks Trev :)
I've made quite some ugly mutants as well. I'll bring them thou they will probably never be used...
However Im very satisfied with the Sili-Gotcha. I cant wait to throw it at them :devil:


Geordie Shanks 11-23-2007 04:32 PM

Killer stuff
I had kind of the same experience as you did in that one of my mentors is an exceptional tyer and did so professionally at one time. He told me that he didn't feel like he knew a fly until he had tied a "dozen-dozen". A.K. Best has a similar quote in one his books. I'll tie a dozen when doing trout flies, but when I tie bonefish flies, I stick with half a dozen. Most trips I've been on, I rarely lose flies and they are so bombproof (I zap a gap everything in sight) that I rarely will use more than 3-4 of one pattern. I love to tie and will inevitably hand out flies to anyone who wants some, which means I get to tie more. Good stuff.

One other invaluable tip he told me was to never let a "throwaway" fly in your box. You boys know what I'm talking about. Especially when tying a new pattern, there's those inevitable ties where the wing is a little too long, or the body is too stout, or the hackle is too small. I used to put those in my box thinking that in a pinch, I would use them. I never, ever do and will usually look for a different pattern. If I tie a bug that is not up to snuff, I will put it in a separate container and palm it off on one of my fishing buddies rather than let it take up valuable space in my box.

I'm fortunate in that I have a room for tying and abundant tying time. I used to lay stuff out, but I realized that I have about 3,000 flies in my vest and gear bags, and I am really in no hurry and can take my time. I really enjoy messing around with different stuff and trying different variations of a fly. I rarely will tie a steelhead pattern the same, and will mix something up on most ties. Have fun on your trip.

kyhnau 11-26-2007 04:18 PM

Geordie, thanks for sharing.
Your tieing "conditions" is a privilege I hope I will have someday :)
Good point with the throwaway fly...


Dave17 11-26-2007 05:55 PM

A lot of great input already but I wanted to chime in as well.

IMHO there is very little difference between 90% of the flies in the bonefishing universe. Pretty much all small and tan, right? Based on that assumption I've come up with a very effective way of maximizing the flies in my box. There are four main differences in my flies:

1. Size
2. Weight
3. Flash
4. Attractors (legs, eyes, etc)

I agree that you want to tie up at least 6 at a time. I usually pick three sizes (4, 6 & 8). Then I tie them in three different weights (weight and size are, to me, the two most important variables). That's a total of 56 flies for all types of water.

Here is what I do that is a little bit different. I tie all these flies the same, including flash, eyes, and legs. I include EVERYTHING on the pattern. By having everything already on the fly, it only takes a small pair of scissors to adjust to current conditions and fish preference. Fish spooked because of the flash, take out the scissors and with a couple of snips the fly is muted and flashless.

I used to have the exact same problem you outlined at the beginning of this thread and this solved it. Let's face it, Bonefish are incredible pound for pound fighters, but are typically not the most selective fish in the world (I know some people will argue this, but as a gerenal rule....). As long as you know the basic patterns used on a given Island, this approach works.

Hope that helps

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