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Old 11-05-2001, 09:18 PM
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GregD GregD is offline
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Fly Tying Newbie, How best to start?

I have a good excuse now to get a fly tying kit since Brandon asked for one for christmas. I know little to nothing about tying and am excited by the prospects of making our own flies. I would appreciate any advice on how best to start for short money.

Buy a deluxe kit from Cabella's with tools, cheap non-rotary vise, video and a bunch of stuff I may not use? Buy only a vise, book, specific tools and materials and go to a fly tying clave? What do you guys recommend for this fly tying newbie?

I think Brandons first fly will be a deep eel since he has done so well with the ones Juro gave us. It also seems to be a relatively simple pattern. I guess I
should start looking into the pattern archives and figure out what materials I
need and where to get them for deep eel, anchovy, and herring patterns to start.

Thanks, Greg.
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Old 11-05-2001, 10:36 PM
Fred Evans Fred Evans is offline
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First and last ... there is no such thing as a 'good cheap fly tying vice.' Second suggestion is a good book (you'll end up with several, but if the pictures arn't in 'colour' it's your fist clue to 'pass') on tieing flys. Then buy a/the fly you want to tie so you have a 'pattern' on what the darn thing is suposed to look like when your done.

Third, you'll still buy some patterns as their too much of a pain in the a... to do yourself.

Welcome to the raid on you wallet.
Fred Evans
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Old 11-06-2001, 05:39 AM
artb artb is offline
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Greg, There is several ways to go, in my opinion join a flyfishing club in your area, Like United Flytyers, Little Rhody Flyroders. Decide what flies you would like to tie. Look on some of the flyfishing boards that are on the internet, and follow their instructions. Several have step by step pictures, and explain each step. Find someone in your area that is willing to take you under their wing, and show you how. You might pick up some material, and tools free, or cheap this way, for instant if you lived close to me I would probably have some extra tools, and material to get you started. I have some material that I have had for over 50 years, and is still usable. Of all sports I don't think there is a better group, as far as getting the new guy on the block started. Hen I started back in the late 40's and early 50's there wasn't the number of flytyers that there are today, also regardless what they say You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks. Anything I can help with just hollar.
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Old 11-06-2001, 08:37 AM
John Desjardins John Desjardins is offline
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Art has some very wise words of advise. I wish I had followed them when I started tying. If nothing else it could have stopped some of the bad habbits I taught myself.

On the kit issue I would not buy one. I still have feathers left from one I was given 25+ years ago. Most of these are unsuitable for any fly, but I just can't throw anything away . It would be far cheaper to pick out a few patterns and get quality materials for them.
John Desjardins
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Old 11-06-2001, 09:18 AM
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Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
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You've got some good advice here. I'll only add two things:

First, when you buy fly tying tools, get the best that you can afford. If you don't, there will come a point when your tying plateaus and doesn't seem to get any better because of the limitations of your tools, especially the vise.

Second, don't start tying a new pattern until you feel very comfortable tying a pattern that you've been working on previously. Many patterns incorporate the same skills, so if you become proficient with one pattern chances are that you're actually becoming proficient at many. Then your arsenal grows at a much faster rate.

Have fun. When you tie, the winter seems to go just a little bit faster.

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Old 11-06-2001, 09:52 AM
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I have to disagree with the above posts. For very little money, (10 bucks) you can get a vise that holds the hook. Will it be rotary? No. Will you get fishable attractive Saltwater flies? Yes. Of course you will upgrade. That's fly fishing. But I built my first flies on a pair of vice grips. They caught fish. As I got better at tying, I made a major jump to the Renzetti Traveler. Yeah its a huge difference, but not one that I would have known a few years ago. As far as tools, I only own three bobbins and some surgical scissors. I use a darning needle stuck in a piece of wood for a bodkin. I use tweezers from the supermarket. I can't wait to own all the tools for fly tying, but that's all I really have right now and it seems to be working fine. Most importantly I think is to set aside a desk or somewhere to keep the materials as they pile up quickly. It's much nicer than when I used to keep them in a box and just bring it out when I need it.

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Old 11-06-2001, 10:11 AM
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juro juro is offline
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It's about time Greg! }> ;-)

I've been wondering when you were going to take the dive. Brandon finally pushed you over the edge. ;-) John Morin who went from 0 to 12329889892329 flies in a single winter!

Look for a link to a 'getting started in SW flytying' page soon. I've already put one together but I need to get it up there, maybe during lunch. Disclaimer: it's just my own perspective and therefore just one slice of the knowledge that others can provide. Maybe I will just cut and paste it here instead...
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Old 11-06-2001, 11:43 AM
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jared jared is offline
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I would buy NOTHING until you've tried it first. Come to UFT or UFT-RI or find a beginner's fly tying class at a local club or shop. Use a variety of vices, tools, etc....

Don't buy a kit -- you get all sorts of stuff you're not likely to ever use.

Fly-tying will open up all sorts of avenues, and IMHO add to your enjoyment & pleasure (not to mention the hours you can while away when NOT fishing -- but tying instead).

Lastly, unless you are tying saltwater exclusively, or keeping to only a few patterns in fresh (and to a limited extent in salt as well) -- it's likely to be more expensive than buying flies. That said, the only thing in fly fishing that is more satisfying than getting a fish to eat a fly is to have tied the fly yourself.

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Old 11-06-2001, 11:47 AM
JimW JimW is offline
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I agree with Nick on the vise. Sure I'd like a Regal, Renzetti, or Daynaking but I've got one of those deals from India. I've probably tied over 400 flies on it. I'm ready to upgrade my $19 vice now but it's served me well. Don't skimp on the bobbins though, the ceramic insert ones rule, I'll take the griffin over the renzetti but both are good. I recommend using quality hooks but when your learning a box of mustad for 8 bucks looks pretty good.
If you want to get together, Baymen outfitters in Duxbury has free tying every Thursday night. I only make it there now and then but it would be a great place to start. Let me know if you want to hit it sometime, you won't need to bring anything.
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Old 11-06-2001, 12:21 PM
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GregD GregD is offline
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Thanks guys, Some good advice as I was hoping for. It seemed like the kits are a quick way to get alot of what you need But alot of stuff you may never use. For $50 bucks it is a quick jump start to get most of what you might need to get started. But I can see that some have improvised on their tools and still been able to tie what they need. But I can also appreciate the benefits of higher quality tools, not that I would notice the difference right now.

I got a gift certificate at Cabellas for my birthday, that is tempting me to get a kit and some materials before I having any experience at all. I might be able to get
one of those new anvil rotary vises for xmas.
as there almost half the cost of the Saltwater traveler I had my eyes on.

I'll have to find out more about the united fly tyers and other groups around and find out when the next meeting is. Not afraid of a bit of a drive either to get together with some of you to learn how to tie flies.

Thanks, for your help.

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Old 11-06-2001, 04:25 PM
Sprocket Sprocket is offline
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Greg - I would reccomend a Thompson "Pro" or "A" vise - relatively cheap but the only one you'll really need (You may "really need" to upgrade later but you probably know that already)

Tools - it may seem like a lot of for a little brass but it pays off.

materials - buy just enough to do one particular fly - a Rays bucktail or Clouser - something simple and easy. Then move on to another pattern, all too soon your cellar will look like a taxadermy shop...

Mostly, enjoy what you're doing and remember it ain't for everybody.
Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 11-06-2001, 06:03 PM
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DennisS DennisS is offline
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I'm with Sprocket on going with a Thompson as a good starter vise. If you get hooked on tying you can always use the Thompson as a camp vise when you upgrade. For those of you in the central Mass area, the New England Fly Tyers club offers a low cost, ($40 includes materials and membership) ten week course starting in February. Anyone interested should feel free to e-mail for details.
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Old 11-06-2001, 06:48 PM
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juro juro is offline
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SWFF starter kit: Northeast Saltwater Flies (ONLY)
Readers Digest version... does not apply to trout flies, steelhead flies, salmon flies, etc.

Vise, scissors, bobbin, thread, hooks, bodkin, materials, eyes, glues
Buy ASAP: whip finisher, drying motor, hair stacker
Bonus items: Extra bobbins, pantone markers, tube fly tool

============= item list IMHO ==============

Vise: Rotary or non-rotary? I like rotary for a number of reasons. Anvil is a good choice. ($99)

Scissors: IMHO Buy a pair of the Fiskars squeeze scissors with the precision tips.
That's all you will need for SWFF flies. ($5-10)

Bodkin: Should have one, cheap item under $5-10 for a real good one lasts forever.

Bobbin: You should have at least two - one for the primary thread and another for finishing thread. For instance, white Danville's monocord for tying the body of the fly and a medium / fine monofilament for finishing the head of the fly. The majority of SWFF flies can be tied with white thru the body, and a clear thread allows any color at the head or wing (back) to show thru without coloring it. It also let's you finish with a drop of glue.

Bobbin's are critical and last forever, buy good ones. Maybe not the ruby Renzetti's, but make sure you get good ones. BTW - I LOVE the ruby Renzettis!

Thread: Essential - white strong (like Danville's monocord), plus monofilament clear thread. About a buck each. Other popular threads are flat waxed nylon and kevlar, also a pricey braided thread with someones name annointed to it. The flat waxed is good for building up bodies, like floss, but it doesn't bite into the material to my liking like monocord does. Kevlar is stiff and doesn't bind when wrapped. You want the thread to bind like fly line when it's not wrapped on the reel right, this holds the material on the hook. The pricey stuff works but has no advantage over the $1 Danville's monocord. Monofilament thread is nothing but really fine spinning line. I find extra fine too fraile for SWFF, and the heavy too stiff like kevlar. Buy a nice med/fine spool, $1.

Hooks: Start with Mustads, use TMC or Daichi when you are confident with a pattern and want to tie them on better hooks.

I prefer TMC 811s, 911s for long shank (SWFF). The 811s is my go-to hook - light but super-strong wire is easier to cast, quick penetration, good curve holds fish lips, QC excellent, never broke one or straightened one and I fish them hard as you already know. I ALWAYS remove the barb. I also use other hooks but I can't remember the numbers off hand. I don't like thick wire hooks like the 800s, and lose more fish with the perfect bend style hooks as well (remember I remove all barbs). If you are a barbless angler your best off with the 811s and it's design counterparts in other manufacturers product lines.

Materials: hoo boy...

As a starter set I would buy:

Bucktails: olive, white, plus yellow or chartreuse (choose carefully, $4-5 ea)
Bunny strips: white ($3)
Ultrahair: polar bear white, chartruese, olive, seafoam ($3 ea)
Saddle Hackles: white med/lg ($3-4)
Fly fur: white and olive ($2 ea)
sparkleflash: gold, silver ($3-4 ea)
flashabou: peacock, pearl, chart, etc ($3-4 ea)
hooks: 1/0 stainless straight eye std lngth fly hooks ($10)
Angel hair: rainbow, baitfish ($4 ea)
Stick on eyes, juvie size: $1
white or chart foam sheet: craft store, $1
pearl crystal chenille: $3

Eyes: If you are going to tie clousers, deep eels, crab patterns, bonefish flies, etc. I prefer non-toxic 'real eyes' with the recessed sockets. Med real eyes (comes with stick on eyes) $4 / package

Cement: one zap-a-gap at the hobby store ($3), 5 min 3 part epoxy ($10), clear non-toxic head cement from the flyshop ($3)

Whip finisher: I gotta have one, and it's gotta be MATARELLI. Don't be fooled by the little springy thingies. Other tyers use fingers to whip, which I did for years but now I prefer not to because it's a pain to draw down the strand on the last whip with a bodkin (built in on the tool) ($5-10?)

I'd be glad to give you a quick lesson either way, you can decide how you want to do it. I'll bet Matarelli wins.

Drying motor: if you do epoxy flies, this is a must. Get a cheap motor ($2 on the post from the Doogues) and you're all set. ($2 plus some wood and screws and a foam cylinder)

That will let you tie:

surf candies
deceivers / juvies
deep eels
crease flies

and you'll have a material base for many other patterns requiring an olive flatwing hackle here or a deer head there, which you will work your way up to.

I didn't total that up but I would suggest getting one big set and sharing the time, materials and joy with the future president of the Flyfishing Forum, the venerable Brandon D.
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Old 11-06-2001, 10:35 PM
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GregD GregD is offline
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Wow that sure fills me in on lots of the questions I have been thinking of. I see some tools are worth the few extra bucks due to superior performance, ease of use etc. Those are things that might take years typically to find out about on your own. Thanks, I'm developing my list with your help.

I may have to join JimW in Duxbury on a future thursday, I don't think I'll be able to wait till feburary to start tying. I could have a small deep eel/anchovy arsenal built by then!

Really appreciate the vise info. I don't think I'm talented/patient enough to use my vise grips, especially if we are talking $40-60 compared to the near $180 I almost spent for a Salt Water traveler. Plus both Brandon and I contributing to getting a fly-tying station set-up. So I can go for the Thompson or Anvil, Between my son's new found obsession and my old one, will probably be tying flies on it for years to come.

Curious where the various fly tying groups meet. It seems so far, everyone is a about the same distance away. I may have to try a couple! If that's the case perhaps joining up with groups near where I fish will increase my knowledge of the local fisherman and the flies patterns they use.

I'll ask Art where the Little Rhody Flyroders meet. Who to contact perhaps for more details?

I thought I saw a post for United Flytyers meeting now that I think of it?

I'll also check with DennisS on the New England Fly Tyers club in central Mass area find out where they meet.

Juro-- Thanks for the great detailed list you
covered alot of what I need to get me started tying Salt Water flys.

Thank you all for the good suggestions and sharing some of your experience(s) for me to learn from. I'm anxious to get started as I already have a spot picked out for the setting up the fly tying station.

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Old 11-07-2001, 05:23 AM
artb artb is offline
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Greg, I am posting it here incase others are interested in flytying. The next meeting for Rohdy Flyrodders is November 20 at Riverside Sportsmen's Club in East Providence,RI. It is just off Rt 114 about 2 miles down from the Massachusetts state line. Maybe Captain Ray will also post on it, as he is on the Board of Directors. I forgot the name of the flytying group that meet in Foxboro. This is also an excellent group of flytyers. I think Tom Dunlop belongs to it. Also you might check with your local flyshop, most have flytying classes during the winter.
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