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creekfishin

how long does it take yall to tie a fly

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i dont tie commercially so time is not a factor, but quality is. whatever time it takes is fine with me.

I haven't tied for well over a year. While having tied for 14 years this past March, it takes me 10 - 15 minutes to tie a dry, such as a gray wulff or one of Bob Quigley's "cripple" flies when I start up again. I am currently tying a dozen Sierra Bright Dot, size 16 (fore and aft fly) and I'm rusty, sometimes frustrated and tend to unwrap a tie down and redo it because I do care what my flies look like. I have been told over & over again, that if you have to pay the rent, by tying commercially - ok, haul ass with your tying, but try to relax with it. So, I calm down from a stressful day, sitting at the vice & cranking out - slowly - the fly pattern I have yet to approach. And oh my Aunt Susie, there are thousands!

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I'm at my PC so i can watch the videos while I tie. Then, when I learn the pattern I still watch videos, just not fly tying ones, and it takes longer than it needs to.. hehe..

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Depends on the fly, I can probably tie a CDC and Elk in 10 minutes depending on how OCD I'm feeling. Same with a PT nymph or a Woolly Bugger. Tonight I've spent at least an hour working on a popper. Tying the rattle on the hook, making sure it's centered, tying the tail material onto a piece of wire, just finished gluing the body together, and have a couple of clamps on the bottom of the body to give it a narrow keel so it sits right in the water. Tomorrow I'll finish it by coloring it and then put the eyes on and coat the body with UV resin.

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i dont tie commercially so time is not a factor, but quality is. whatever time it takes is fine with me.

Yep, what Norm says. If you ever had a chance to study any of his flies you'd see the quality in them and not ask how long it took. I kept track of how long it took to tie a fly when I got back into tying several years ago. Now I try to get a good fly regardless of time involved and still have a long way to go to reach the quality level of the top tyers. I have replaced almost all of my early ties in my fly boxes with newer ties. Not that a poorly ties fly can't catch a fish but just knowing I have a fly on done to the best of my ability makes me more confident. A cyber friend has a signature line on his posts that I agree with today completely.

 

"It is better to tie one perfect fly in an hour than a dozen the trout will only laugh at."

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"It is better to tie one perfect fly in an hour than a dozen the trout will only laugh at."

 

 

I somewhat disagree with that sentiment. I'm far less willing to cast a fly into a brush pile or under an overhanging branch on the opposite bank -- the places where fish are likely to be -- if it took me fifteen minutes to tie than one that took me a minute to tie.

 

Of course, there is something to said for the theory that you'll fish a nice looking fly with more confidence than a shoddy one, but that only gets the fly tied on in the first place. Risking it is a different story. The trick, I believe, is to tie simple flies, but tie them well.

 

And as far as how long? It depends in part on whether it's the first of the pattern that I'm tying, where I have to dig out all the materials from the various boxes sitting around my tying room, or it's the second, where all the materials are already sitting on my desk. And the trick there is to never tie just one of a pattern.

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redietz wrote:

And the trick there is to never tie just one of a pattern.

 

 

Yes! The "overhead" of getting the materials ready and putting them away properly and cleaning up, seems to take the most time! You'll never regret having extra flies, in multiple sizes. And you may improve a bit on successive attempts (at least, I do). Don't be afraid to strip a hook clean with a razor blade.

 

Bill_729

 



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IMO you're asking the wrong question.  Except with rare exceptions, I never just tie one fly.  You should really be asking how long it takes to tie a half dozen or dozen flies.  There are 2 reasons that's important.  First is that you get into a rhythm and used to certain movements, without having to stop to remember how you did something, or make mistakes.  The second reason is that there's overhead that's too costly if you tie just one fly.

For example, let's say you just have one bobbin.  First you have to put in the thread, and load it through the tube (when I started this took 2 or 3 minutes, lol).  Then you have to get a hook out of the bag.  Then you have to get a bead out.  Continue with other materials.

But with "production tying", you do things more efficiently. And yes I realize we're both amateur tiers but we should still use some production techniques.

Do not tie 50 different types of flies.  Pick only a few simple ones, and get good at them.  For example, there are hundreds of stonefly nymphs out there, but I only tie one pattern, and it's a relatively simple one - Pat's Stone.  I'm faster at it because I tie only that type, and also because it's an easy pattern to begin with.

So let's say you're tying beadhead Wooly Buggers.  Find a good video you like and tie that pattern.  You can change colors because that takes no more time.  Use the same thread color for each, it doesn't matter.  Using black chenille vs. white chenille takes no extra time.

First get out 10 hooks.  Then put 10 beads on the hooks.  Now you're ready to start tying.  You've taken a couple minutes, but if you kept doing this one at a time it would take twice that long.  etc.    Have all your other materials out of the bags and ready to go, with anything else on your bench out of your way.  If you have to stop halfway through for some reason, leave your tying table just as it was - don't put those materials away until you're done tying that type of fly for awhile.  You can even leave your thread hanging from a fly halfway done, no harm.

So, you should be asking yourself, how long does it take to tie 10 flies?  Because it will be less than 10 times as long as it takes to tie 1 fly.  In this way you should be able to tie 10 flies in about 2 hours at your current speed.  By the time you've finished those 10, you will probably be up to 12-15 in 2 hours, which is to say about 8-10 minutes per fly.

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OK, so with regard to comments about quality vs. quantity...

First, you have to decide what kind of fly tier you are.  Do you enjoy fly tying as a hobby and art form in and of itself?  That's fine, that's one school of thought.  Then you should follow tiers like Dick Talleur and Oliver Edwards.  They tie "perfect" and beautiful flies that look great on the covers of books.  Sometimes there are competitions for tying in and of itself. for flies that will never even be fished.

Another type of tier is more interested in the function of the fly in terms of how it fishes and its durability.  Examples of these types of flies would be ones that appeal to fish more than to fishermen, for reasons beyond what we can see with our eyes.  How a dry fly lands on the water, what impression the dry fly makes on the meniscus, how the streamer moves when wet, how fast the nymph plummets.  For example Marinaro's thorax pattern is an interesting version of this kind of fly.  So is a perdigon nymph, or LaFontaines caddis pupa.  If you are more interested in this kind of fly tying, read tiers such as AK Best, Gary LaFontaine, Rich Strolis, whoever invented the perdigon, etc.

Another type of tier is more interested in technique (technique trumps pattern).  These are usually fly fishing guides or even the professional Euro nymphers.  They have to tie lots of flies, often the night before they go out, and have to catch fish for their clients.  If the flies took too long they'd starve to death or be sleep deprived.  Their clients might hang a dozen in the trees or break them off in rocks.  They can't lose sleep either from worrying about this or from staying up late tying.  There are many videos from guys like these, such as Lance Egan, Dominic Swarensky (Troutbitten), Rich Strolis (his book Catching Shadows), Devin Olsen or George Daniel.  These are not fancy fly tiers, but they catch a billion fish (although to be fair some streamers nowadays get a bit complicated).

I personally am a combination of the second and third type, but you have to figure your style out on your own.  Learn to make your own changes if necessary or even cut out a material if the pattern is too complicated.  I like a fly from Troutbitten called a Bread N Butter nymph.  He calls it a "guide fly" however it involves 3 thread changes, which IMO makes it not really a guide fly.  I changed that to one thread and it's faster for me to tie, and I'm quite sure makes no difference to the fish.  Or barring that, watch 3 videos from well respected tiers, and choose the one with the fewest materials or the video that has the shortest length.

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Two very good posts, @jeffnc. Thank you'.

  

On 12/10/2009 at 2:44 PM, creekfishin said:

Or will my times get better ?


your times will get better if you tie lots of them by the same method you're using, because repetition will ingrain reflex actions or if you lay out all materials for a dozen and tie that dozen one behind the other because of what is described above as overhead time plus the repetitive learning. Once upon a time I considered tying to sell, the orders were a dozen dozen if I recall, same pattern same size etc. I did pretty well for the first couple dozen, but by the time I got up to around the fiftieth identical piece my attention was wandering and I was done with production tying, but, I was very good and very quick at tying that fly and that spilled over to any flies I tied  making me a little more organized and a bit faster at tying all of them. Over the years my attention span has become shorter and boredom sets in faster, so, I plan to tie six of a pattern/size and six of another differing style that utilizes the same materials. By choosing patterns to tie in succession that use the same or mostly the same materials, avoid time lost putting away one set of materials and bringing out another set.  

Time? I've cranked out 15 an hour or 1 in 2 hours - big flies take a lot more time for me than small flies, use more materials and are almost always more intricate. My go to fishing flies probably run 4-8/hr these days and I expect will take longer as the fingers get less dexterous. I also favor the simplest flies, of the guide sort. I never wanted to tie for art, although I do appreciate those who do. Several members here are very skilled artists and I suspect they invest more time and much patience in each fly than I could.

My flies must be expendable and replaceable, I ain't beyond hanging them in trees or the grass on the far bank and I have been guilty of breaking off. I don't worry much about making mine durable (production tyers don't either from the flies I bought) because if they catch a fish or two they have served the purpose and if they end in a tree I don't care how long they last. Making flies super durable adds to time of tying or more likely gluing the fly. Just skipping the head cement will save a minute or three per fly.

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I can spend up to an hour on a "new to me" fly pattern, hacking away until I get it as correct as I can.  Hopefully the time needed for each succeeding fly decreases as the methods and techniques become clearer with each one.   For me the time required to produce a decent fly is not really much of a factor.   It's more important to look in my boxes and see well tied (for me) flies that are true to their original patterns.  I fish with all of them.   I would like to think that if the ghost of a fly fisherman from a hundred years ago met me on the river one day they would at least recognize most the flies I've tied.   All my efforts for proper proportions is strictly for my own esthetic enjoyment because the fish don't seem to care.  Half of my personal best fish were caught on some really awful flies that I tied when I was learning and I was more concerned about filling my boxes.  A few of them are retired on my fishing hat until hopefully one of my recent/improved efforts produces a new personal best.   Still they're a nice reminder of how my tying has evolved over the years.  Someday I hope my hat will only display "perfectly" tied personal best fish catchers.  Good luck and enjoy the journey!

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If you like how it came out and it didn't take "too long" to tie, it's all good.  If you tie for a living you need to tie fast and well. If you tie for pleasure you want to tie well and time shouldn't be a driving factor(IMHO). Also it depends on the fly. A thread midge takes hardly any time, a classic Adams with a split wing takes more time, some streamers take a lot more time. That said tie at least a half dozen of a pattern at one session. You'll develop muscle memory which is a good thing if you're doing it right.  I also believe that technique takes precedence over pattern. Learn the techniques and you'll be able to tie the patterns.  In fact, some evenings rather than tie say a bunch of parachute BWO's for the box I'll take one hook and tie Catskill style split fiber wings on the hook. tie a wing, cut it off tie it again, for however long I'm tying that session. Usually at least an hour-hour and a half. When I'm done I usually feel pretty confident with whatever technique I've been working on.  Now any time I want to tie a pattern with that type of wing, I don't "waste" time figuring out the wing each time I tie a fly.  Learn a technique, say getting tight vertical wire wraps.  tie a pattern with that technique maybe brassies. Learn another technique, tying in biot tails, tie a pattern using both techniques like a Copper John maybe.  I guess what I'm saying is you need to practice both technique and tactics(patterns), as your technique gets better so will your tactics. And your time/fly will decrease also.

[edit] like Flat rock I do plenty of stooopid stuff too. Don't be afraid to take that trusty ol' razor blade to the fly and start all over again. [/edit]

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