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Old 01-21-2005, 07:58 AM
sundown sundown is offline
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Fly-Tying Kits

Hello, I started fly flishing twards the end of last year. The flies that bait shop in my area sells are $1.75 each. And they come untied after a few uses... So I thinking about buying a tying kit. I was wondering if fly-tying is hard, and if it is worth it in the long run. I have 0 experience with tying flies right now.

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Old 01-21-2005, 08:47 AM
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fcch fcch is offline
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I'll let the real pros reply, but for me, tying is a blast.
  • Help pass the winter (see thread on COLD).
  • There is lots of satisfaction in connecting with a fly YOU made/created.
  • It can be as difficult or simple as you please (just like FF'ing)
  • I feel my flies are bomb proof and don't come apart
  • You can tie riverside as an excuse for NOT catching any, saying, "Oh, I'm just testing new patterns"

Kits are OK, but you might prefer to chat up someone in a good local shop. Buy a decent vice and the stuff for particular flies you want to tie and want to fish.

Note: Tying is as addictive as FF'ing itself. Hope your wife or girlfriend knows there will be features, animal parts, bobbins etc all over the work area.

Christopher Chin

Last edited by fcch; 01-21-2005 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 01-21-2005, 08:59 AM
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MCorder MCorder is offline
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In my personal oppinion stay away from the kits. Start simple, buying the materials you need for a particular fly. You'll always have stuff left over and soon you'll have big enough of a collection of leftovers you'll surpassed the kit and have better quality material as well.

For now, try adding a little extra cement to the heads of the fly's. That seems to be the most common failure point. It's available at most shops and can be applied with a toothpick.

Search this forum, there was a great thread a while back that addressed the kit issue a while back.

Good Luck!!!
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:14 AM
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teflon_jones teflon_jones is offline
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I just started tying a couple of months ago. My father-in-law gave me a kit for my birthday way back in May, but I didn't get around to tying anything until a long while later. I honestly had never had any interest in it despite having fly fished for 17 years now. But once I started, I got hooked. For me, I think the kit was a good idea. It's given me a bunch of random materials to play around with, plus the basic tools, and a vise. Sure, the vise isn't the greatest, but while I'm learning it does just fine. I think the kit was $40-50 so at that price I think they're worth it as a learning aid. Once you figure out if you like tying flies or not, go get yourself a better vise and more materials.
My passion for catching fish is eclipsed only by the fish's passion not to be caught.
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Old 01-21-2005, 01:10 PM
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FrenchCreek FrenchCreek is offline
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To Kit or not to Kit ?

A $50. kit is a good way to go if you just want to try out what may become an obsession. It will allow you to tie a few patterns with various materials and hook sizes. An great learning tool with your kit is to visit a local shop, if convenient, and take a course about basic fly tying and if available join a local fly tiers club, most members will share their materials as well as their knowledge and skills. This will significantly increase your learning curve.
Bare in mind that most fly tiers will agree that once you get started, you will not necessarily save money... Consider that hooks, threads, bobbins, cement, feathers and fur, etc. will very quickly add up to hundreds of dollars.
So if you are looking at using 20-30 flies a year, that would cost about around $55. which is a lot cheaper way to go.
If you are looking for another hobby, a most rewarding one, with the advantages that have been noted by others who will/have posted a reply, then join the rest of us who have become fly tiers.
Pete AKA Frenchcreek from Calgary
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Old 01-21-2005, 01:27 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Glad you are thinking about getting into tying your own. I've been tying for 43 years, since age 9, and have tied professionally for 20 years.

I am sorry to hear you have found out the hard way about flies from non-fly shops, or even the cheap flies (those under $1.50-$1.75) some fly shops carry.

To answer your question, first do yourself a favor and avoid fly tying kits. The primary reasons for not buying a kit are: 1) the vise, scissors, bobbin included in them are almost always poorly made, very inferior ones imported from third world countries; 2) the thread included is almost always too thick for good tying; 3) the hooks included are rarely of the sizes and types you need for the flies you wish to tie (not to mention they are also almost always of very poor quality); and 4) almost all of the materials included in most tying kits is horrible and not worth the room it takes up.

The best to get into tying is first buy the best quality vise you can afford. There are good vises on the market from Thompson and Griffin that don't cost an arm-and-a-leg, they sell for $35.00-$70.00. These are good quality vises that will last a long time; but most importantly, they have jaws that work well to hold hooks without slipping (unlike the cheap imports).

Secondly, get a good pair of tying scissors. There are good ones on the market starting at about $8.00 for the Griffin All-Purpose model up to the Anvils and other high-end ones at $20.00 to $35.00.

Third, get a good bobbin. These are actually rather inexpensive. The S&M (one of my favorites and one that A.K. Best uses and recommends as well) runs around $6.00-$7.50. There are also very good bobbins from Griffin, Thompson Vise Co. Renzetti, Tiempco, etc. on the market and they sell for between $7.50-$20.00.

Fourth, buy a bodkin, which is nothing more than a needle stuck into a wood, plastic, or metal handle. These are cheap, but you will need one.

Fifth, get a good Materrelli Whip Finish tool. They sell for about $15.00 but are well worth the cost since they are easy to use and last a long, long time. I still have one is use that has been used to tie over 1,000,000 flies.

After you decide on the above tools (which you should be able to get the complete set of for between $60.00-$100.00 depending on the price of the vise you choose), buy hooks in the sizes and styles of the flies you are going to tie. I'd recommend starting with simple wet flies like the hare's ear nymph, brown hackle, grey hackle, woolley bugger, etc. In other words, start with wingless flies, including dry flies after you tie 4 or 5 dozen of the wingless wets. Then as you gain some experience tying, add winged wet flies and then move on to winged dry flies and streamers.

Buy only the materials you need to tie 2-5 different flies! I can't emphasize this enough. If you get good materials and stick to only the materials needed to tie 2-5 different flies, it will not cost a lot and you will have materials enough to tie dozens and dozens of the flies. Plus, these will be flies that you will use and that are fish catchers. Also, pick up 2 0r 3 spools of 6/0 or 8/0 thread in black, other colors if it suits your fancy;, but all you really need is black to start out with. This may sound like fine thread, but myself and most other professional tyers and those who are experienced amateur tyers use 6/0 or 8/0 on everything from #24 midges to #3/0 salmon/steelhead flies. As you find yourself wanting to tie flies that require a material you don't have, simply buy the new material keeping in mind that one material is used on many different flies.

For wet fly hackle, brown, grizzly, black, and ginger genetic hen necks or Whiting American Hackle necks in bronze grade are excellent and will tie hundreds of flies (about 700) from each neck. The best part, theWhitng American Hackle sells for $20.00, and the hen necks are around $12.00-$15.00. For woolly buggers, the best hackle is cheap, strung chinese rooster saddle, which sells for about $3.00 a package.

For dry fly hackle, use Whiting 100's and buy the size your are going to tie. One package of Whiting 100's will tie a minimum of 100 flies of the size listed on the package. And these are not expensive either. The only colors you need are brown, grizzly, black, and ginger. To even further simplify it, brown and grizzly will cover 75%-80% of all your dry fly hackle needs.

Avoid at all costs those cheap, next to worthless Indian hackle capes. Yes, they sound like a bargain because they are under $10.00; however, they will only tie about 50-70 flies, the hackle stems are so short it makes tying trout sized flies a real pain, and they really are false economy. Also, don't buy Chinese hackle capes because although they are fine for large wet flies, they are worthless for dry flies and trout sized wets.

Hope this helps you and any others who are thinking a getting into fly tying avoid the common mistakes I've seen people make over that last 43 years.
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