Fly Tying Materials & Tools

Fly Tying Materials & Tools
Buying all the flies one needs for fishing can get quite expensive. Tying your own, however, allows to you produce flies for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them. Also, catching fish on a fly that you tied yourself is one of the most satisfying experiences any fisherman can have. The items listed below represent a basic assortment of the tools and materials necessary to get started and to tie some of the most popular patterns.


Feathers are a critical component of most flies. The most commonly used feathers for fly tying are rooster hackle feathers. These long, narrow feathers come in many sizes and have fine fibers that imitate insect wings and tails. Other useful feathers include wood duck flanks, turkey and goose quills, and marabou feathers.


Dubbing is the material used to create the body of most flies. While some traditionalists opt to use the underfur from a rabbit or muskrat, many use synthetic or wool dubbing that comes in a variety of colors.


You can use deer and elk hair to tie popular patterns, like the Elk Hair Caddis fly. You can also use dyed muskrat and rabbit underfur in place of synthetic dubbing to create the body of most flies.


Most fly tiers use a nylon thread that has a light coating of wax to prevent it from slipping and sliding around on the hook. Thread comes in a wide array of colors; however, black, olive, brown, white and yellow are the most common.


A vise is a simple clamp that holds the hook while you tie the fly. Most have a screw or lever mechanism for opening and closing the vise jaws that you can adjust to accommodate different sized hooks.


A good pair of sharp scissors are critical for cutting fine feathers, fur and thread.


A bobbin allows you to maintain constant tension on the thread as you tie. Most have a small tube that the thread is run through and two arms that grip the spool of thread while still allowing it to turn.

Hackle Pliers

Hackle pliers allow you to tightly grip small hackle feathers as you wrap them around the fly. These pliers open when you squeeze them and close when you release the pressure.


A bodkin is essentially a needle with a short handle that you can use to position strands of hair or feathers and apply lacquer to flies.

Whip-Finish Tool

This tool allows you to tie the challenging whip-finish knot that secures the thread in place, once you complete the fly.

Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and

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