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I've bought two fly tying kits in my life.  The first one was about 30 years ago and from a mail order house.  It included a Thompson No. 1 vise and that's about where the fair quality stopped.  A patch of brown hackle, possibly Indian, a turkey feather, a half-hitch tool and some small patches of hair...one was red and one yellow, as I recall.  A pair of OK scissors.  I think it cost $100 or thereabouts.

I'm sure there were other contents in the kit but I can't remember what they were.  A hair stacker, too, I believe.  I still have it.  If the net would have been around 30 years ago, I would have been pre-warned about it.  The majority of stuff in the kit was unusable, at least to my rookie eyes/hands.  There was a booklet of instructions which gave directions for a Muddler Minnow.  I think I tied one but can't remember.  A lot of useless components.

That was my first kit.  My second was purchased this year.  It included a Universal vise, which is the reason I bought it.  A true rotary vise from back in the late 50s or early 60s, which is where the kit originated.  Address on the box didn't include a zip code; it was that early.  I paid $30 for it and it was complete and never opened..  Almost every thing in the kit was usable.  A bobbin holder, an assortment of yarn,  two packs of hooks, some kip tail in two colors, even had a round of beeswax. Instead of a patch of rooster feather, there was an entire neck.  Not like modern hackle, but not bad for 60 years ago.  A hackle plier, quite good one.  But no scissors.  Everything one needed to tie a variety of flies. Silver, gold, copper wires.  I was impressed.

A lot of difference in 30 years.  The bad, the very good, and this brings me to the point of this post.

If you had to put together a Fly Tying Kit using modern materials, what would you include to keep it under $150 (around there.)  Specifically what vise, what scissors,  What materials and what grade of hackles, what colors.  It may be impossible to keep the cost to $150 so feel free to expand it within reason.


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I read the reviews and the Orvis kit seems to be the best.  Vise got several complaints.  

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Tying Tools
This list of beginners tying tools is simply a list based on my 40+ years’ experience in fly tying. It is a BASIC list.
This list is provided for your convenience and in no way requires you to buy all tying tools all at once or any tools for that matter. It is also a generic list of tools as I really don't have any preferences as to what brand of materials you buy.
Any brands mentioned are purely for examples, not an endorsement.
Again, you do not have to buy the entire list all at once!
Buy what you want when you need it!
In addition, buy the items that are affordable to you. There is no need to spend $$$$$ on tying tools when $$ are available and just as good to get you started.
*Tying Vise – Stationary, rotating or full rotating vises are all available to the beginner.
Which vise you purchase is your decision. A good idea is to try them out at your local fly shop to see which vise will work for you. 
Vises come in two versions, clamp style or pedestal style. A clamp style will clamp to the edge of a table and the pedestal style will sit on top of a table.
Stationary – Does not rotate the hook
Thompson Model A. Great to learn on and the least expensive.
Rotating – Rotates the hook but not around the hook axis
Regal, HMH, Anvil etc. C-clamp or pedestal versions.
Full Rotating – Rotates the hook directly in line with the hook axis
Renzetti, Peak, J-Vise etc. C-clamp or pedestal versions.
*Bobbin Holder – Purchase a bobbin holder that has a ceramic tube, or a ceramic insert in the tip of the tube. You can purchase stainless steel tube bobbin holders for use with ribbing wire, lead/non-lead wire and other tying materials.
*Scissors – An inexpensive pair of Fiskar 4-inch dressmakers’ scissor is an excellent start and will cut just about any material out there. Yes, you can cut wire with your scissors, just cut close to the pivot point
There are too many scissor manufacturers to list here. See this recent article on scissors:
Less essential but useful later on in your tying adventure
Whip finisher – There is the “Mattarelli” style and the “Thompson” style whip finishers. Learning to whip finish with your fingers will save you a few bucks. Fingers are free!
Bodkin - The bodkin is mainly used to put on head cement but has other uses such as picking out dubbing to make fuzzy bodies, picking out trapped hackle fiber from under ribbing wire, clearing out head cement from the hook eye etc. A bodkin is a simple DIY project. Just stick a needle into a small diameter dowel and voila! Bodkin.
Half Hitch Knot Tool – This tool is for tyers who can’t or won’t use a whip finisher. It is used to make half hitch knots at the hook eye to finish the head. Each tool has a different diameter hole drilled in each end to support different diameter hook eye sizes.
Hackle Plier – Used to grasp the tip of a hackle to wrap around the hook shank. Fingers still work great for holding and winding hackles.
Hair Stacker – After cutting hairs off of the skin, insert the hair tip end down into the hair stacker to even the tips of various types of hair such as buck tail, deer, elk, moose etc. Some experienced tyers still prefer to finger/hand stack hairs to prevent the paint brush look of stacked hairs produced from a stacker.
Hair Packer – This tool is more suited for the tyer who wants to tie deer hair style bass and pike/musky fly patterns.
Tweezers – This tool has many uses around the tying bench. Can be used to pick out fibers of errant materials, picking up hooks, holding beads etc.
Dubbing Teaser – This is another DIY project. Glue a strip of Velcro to a popsicle stick or coffee stirrer and use it to scruff up dubbing for a fuzzy body
Dubbing Twister – Use this tool in conjunction with a dubbing loop of thread and spiky dubbing to help create dubbed bodies, small dubbing brushes right on the hook shank etc. There are many styles of dubbing twisters. Search on-line and make a choice of which one you want.
Comb – Ideal for removing underfur from hairs or furs. Especially useful for coming out the underfur on deer hair and buck tails for spinning hair and making streamers. A simple moustache comb is a good choice or combs made of antler.
Bobbin holder threader – Insert the flexible wire loop into the bobbin holder thread tube, insert the thread into the loop and pull the tool to thread the bobbin holder. Totally not needed as you can insert the thread into the tube, put the tube in your mouth and draw/suck the thread through the tube. Dental floss threaders are an option.
* A vise, bobbin holder and scissors are three basic tools that will get a beginner into tying flies.
Poor quality tying tools are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them. Buy the best you can.
Fly Tying Kits (Controversial but there are good kits if you really want one) - Some examples
Fly Tying Tool Sets - Some examples
Tying Materials
This list of beginners tying materials is simply a list based on my 409+ years' experience in fly tying. The list provided below is for a new tyer who wants to tie trout flies but can spill over to different genres of fly tying. It is a BASIC list. It contains materials that can tie hundreds or even thousands of fly patterns.
This list is in no order of preference. This list is provided for your convenience and in no way requires you to buy all tying materials all at once or any materials for that matter. It is also a generic list of materials as I really don't have any preferences as to what brand of materials you buy.
Eventually you will need materials if you want to continue tying flies. The list will give you a head start as to what you might want to buy.
Again, you do not have to buy the entire list all at once!  
Buy what you want when you need it!
1. Hooks (in different styles and sizes)
2. Thread (6/0 to start in black & white)
3. Pheasant Tail (center feathers, when possible, for the longest fibers)
4. Peacock Herl (eye feathers and strung herl)
5. Marabou (blood quills are better)
6. Deer hair
7. Elk hair
8. Buck tail (in different colors like black, red, yellow, or white)
9. Lead or non-lead wire (in different sizes)
10. Ribbing wire (silver, copper & gold)
11. Rooster Hackle (grizzly, brown, white & dun) A good option is an introduction pack
12. Hen neck or saddle (grizzly, brown, dun etc.) (great for soft hackle & wings)
13. Hungarian Partridge Skin (great for soft hackles)
14. Dubbing dispenser of hare's ear (various colors) & superfine dubbing for dry flies
15. Gray duck or goose wing feathers (used for wing cases, biot bodies, tails etc.)
16. Head cement & tying wax (not immediately needed but nice to have on hand)
17. Tinsel and other flash materials (in assorted colors)
18. Calf tail (start with white, add colors when necessary)
19. Yarns & chenille (used for making bodies, both in assorted colors)
20. Floss/Uni-stretch (1 strand or 4 strand in assorted colors)
21. Strung hackle (practice wrapping hackle with this. cheap alternative to the pricey hackles)
22. Beads (not necessary to begin tying flies but if you really need them get them)
23. Rubber legs
Poor quality materials are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them. Buy the best you can.
A popular and frequently mentioned recommendation seen on most forums is to pick out 5-10 that you want to learn how to tie. Buy the materials provided in the recipes of those flies. These materials are now the building blocks for tying different fly patterns in the future.
Fly Tying Material Kits

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