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Old 11-06-2005, 08:01 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: NW Washington
Posts: 3,346
Bryce,

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.
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