How to Tie Flies & Streamers

How to Tie Flies & Streamers
Tying flies and streamers requires practice and discipline. Numerous books, websites and instructional videos are available to assist with fly-tying techniques. Instructional courses through fly shops are also an excellent way to learn fly-tying techniques. Fly tying is an important aspect of fly fishing for many anglers, and catching a fish on your own fly is a great experience. With a few basic tools, some tying thread and fur and feathers, you can begin fly tying.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hook
  • Thread
  • Elk hair
  • Pheasant tail fibers
  • Hares ear mask
  • Dubbing
  • Chenille
  • Turkey
  • Thin skin
  • Rabbit strip
  • Hackle
  • Whip finisher
Step 1
Start the thread by placing the tag end along the hook shank and making several wraps clockwise over the tag end. Continue to wrap the thread toward the bend in the hook and cut the remainder of the tag end once the thread is secure. This process is called starting the thread.
Step 2
Once the thread has been wrapped to the bend of the hook, tie in the tail of the fly. Typical tail materials include pheasant tail fibers, elk hair, rabbit strips, squirrel strips and hares mask fibers. Measure the tail at two-thirds the length of the hook shank. Make two loose wraps of thread over the tail fibers, then make two tight wraps to secure the tail.
Step 3
Tie the body of the fly by either dubbing or wrapping chenille. If you are using dubbing, apply a small amount of dubbing wax to the tying thread. Use your thumb and forefinger to spin the dubbing on the thread. Wrap the dubbed thread toward the eye of the hook and stop thee-fourths of the way down the hook shank. If you are using a chenille body, make several thread wraps over the tag end of the chenille. Wrap the thread thee-fourths of the way down the hook shank before wrapping the chenille thee-fourths of the way down the hook shank.
Step 4
Once the body of the fly has been formed, you will make the thorax for nymphs, tie hackle for a dry fly or create a streamer impression with hackle or rabbit fur. For the nymph, tie in a section of turkey or thin skin. Spin more dubbing on the thread, then wrap the thread in a ball at least twice the diameter of the body. Pull the turkey or thin skin over the dubbing ball and make several wraps of thread to secure the materials. Use a whip finisher to finish the fly. For the dry fly, tie in the tip of a hackle stem. Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook and make several wraps of hackle toward the eye. Tie off the hackle, cut the remainder and whip finish the head. For the streamer, tie in a section of rabbit strip. Wrap the thread toward the eye of the fly. Make several wraps of rabbit and use the thread to tie off the strip. Cut the remainder of the rabbit and whip finish the head of the fly.

Tips & Warnings

When you begin fly tying, buy a recipe book with multiple styles of fly patterns. The book will show you pictures of the finished fly as well as provide the materials you will need to tie the pattern.
Every fly uses a different recipe and has variations in the tying style. Begin by tying simple fly patterns like the pheasant tail, hares ear, adams and wooley bugger. Once you have learned to use the proper portions, you can advance to more complex patterns.

Article Written By Zach Lazzari

Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.

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