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Your favorite fly tying tip?

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a hand whip finish would best serve the commercial tyer where time is money. looking for a whip finish tool may be time consuming.


a hand whip finish vs a tool whip finish is merely an alternative and not a fly tying commandment


absolutely nothing wrong with either method


i just use half hitches. on my! smile.png

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take tying lessons


When using marabou, wet it first. It will be easier to handle.





Use a sharp blade like a scalpel blade or razor blade, instead of scissors, to cut the tensioned thread after making a whip finish. That way you only cut the thread and not the hackle fibers.

Great tips , thank you for sharing






Another variation is to keep the thread tight and use the "V" of the scissors to cut, same principle and safer






Replace the lids on bottles of head cement etc as soon as you’re finished using it





Add a small amount of head cement to the thread just before whip finishing . This saves you getting head cement on the hackles when finishing the small dry fly.






Moisten your finger tips before adding dubbing to the thread





"Measure twice, cut once" particularly when making wings from quill feathers.





When dubbing, pick out how much you think you need for the fly, then reduce it in half.





If your hackle pliers are slipping, glue a thin piece of rubber band to the inside of the blade to hold the feathers securely.






I would recommend a beginner to wax their thread.






When tying in deer hair use 2-3 pinching loops then if you want it to spin it tighten by pulling thread down and if you want to tie in as a wing pull thread upwards to hold in place






Tie flies in batches. This will lead to greater consistency and you don't waste as much time handling different materials.






Wind rib material the opposite way to the feather fiber etc underneath so that it secures it more effectively.






When tying in chenille etc strip the material from the core with your finger nails. Tie in the exposed thread core to the hook. Less bulk at the tie in point.






When coating buzzers, 4 coats of Sally Hansen’s gives the right degree of coverage.






Learn to whip finish with your fingers.






Save those chip bags. They can make excellent tinsel in an array of colors. Great for body material too!






Always have a look in your local big box craft shop, home center, department store or dollar store. You can find some interesting fly tying materials at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in a fly shop.






ALWAYS keep materials you don’t want bugs to get into in the original sealed plastic bags they came in.






Peacock herl is brittle – always rib with wire or make a rope around your thread.






A frequent half hitch will stop things becoming undone. perfectly acceptable to do so regardless of what someone may tell you.






Tie in game feathers such as partridge by the tip as the stalk is too large.






Leave plenty of room for your head (I’m guilty of not doing this)






Save the old appliance cords and cut them to approximately 6-8 inches long. Strip away a few of inches of the insulation to expose the fine copper wire inside. Great for ribbing wire






You CAN use your expensive scissors to cut wire! Just cut wire close to the pivot area.






Use what ever kind of feather is lying around your tying area to clean out the head cement from the hook eye. Many other tying items can also be used to accomplish a clean hook eye.


Every single turn of the thread better have a damn good reason for being there.






Thread tension is very important. Try to tie with the thread at 90% breaking strain.






2 tight turns of thread are better than 6 slack ones.






Break your thread! Get to know how much pressure you can apply to your tying thread by making it break. If it does break, don’t panic! Simply attach your hackle pliers to the broken end, unwrap a bit and then reattach your tying thread


When tying with flat stick on eyes, bending them into a vee shape like this < >, will make installing them onto a rounded head much easier. After they are installed, I will make an x wrap with clear mono thread and then coat with epoxy or the current goos on the market. The mono will disappear, the eyes are held on tight and the epoxy or goo makes a nice head.






When tying deer hair wings a couple of loose wraps around base of wing prior to fixing it in position prevents unwanted flare.






Keep pets especially puppies away from fly tying tables and materials. Genetic capes seem to taste best.






A stick with a magnet taped to one end or a telescoping magnetic wand is the easiest way to find stray hooks and flies on the floor.






Sharpen fly tying scissors by taking kitchen aluminum foil and folding so that it is four layers thick.



Use scissors to make about 10 cuts with the full length of the blades ...... give the tips another 5 snips. Bingo sharp scissors again.






Peacock herl! Tie one in at the eye and one at the tail; take your thread back to the eye. Wind the herl at the eye to the bend and then secure this by winding the tail herl to the head, then secure with thread wraps.






Wet your fingers when handling Goose biots. They'll stay in between your fingers and save you the embarrassment of swearing at yourself.






When using Holo tinsel and UV strands as a rib. Place the UV on top of the Holo tinsel. On a bright day the tinsel glistens and when overcast or in low light the UV glows.






Do you want your dry flies to float all day and do so after catching fish? Use Scotchgard. Only use this as a pretreatment on batches of new flies and do not over do it. Let them dry for a couple of days.






You can also convert your articulated reading/fly tying lamp into a gallows tool with the aid of a child’s hair band and a spare hackle pliers.






If you ever need emerald green tinsel, take a piece of pearl put a weight on each end and cover the pearl using a black marker pen. When dry, turn it over you’ll have emerald green.






Thread control. Use thinner thread where possible.






Modern bobbin holders and plastic spools have very little weight to hang and hold mid-tie when winding ribs and hackles etc. Put a piece of lead or brass rod which will fit within the spool between the holding axels to give weight.






Use ceramic tip bobbin holders. It will greatly reduce swearing






A bit of Velcro super glued onto a flat stick, dowel, coffee stirrer etc makes a simple dubbing brush






Keep most things JUST out of reach, You get some exercise with a good old stretch and are less likely to knock things off the work surface.






A washed out mascara brush makes a more delicate dubbing brush




When tying in deer hair wings, use you dubbing needle to work a bit of head cement into the butt ends before binding down on them. They'll last much longer.

When tying in herl bodies, wind them onto wet head cement. They'll last much longer.



Do not be afraid to bend the hook to suit the pattern you are tying. Just don't over do it.


Learn a tying technique. You dont know them all.


Poor quality materials and tools are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them.


When posting your fly on a forum, post your best one and please use the focus function on your camera

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When wrapping hackes with thin and fragile stems, like partridge, make a partial turn by hand then attach a hackle pliers to finish wrapping. This helps keep the stem from breaking as often.


On deer and elk hair wings, measure the wing against the hook, put your fingertips just above the tie-in spot, and clip the butt ends of the hair so you don't have to trim them after you tie them in place. If you're going to bind down the butts and wrap materials over them you can even cut them at an angle to make a tapered area to tie on.


Spend time on the water and take time out to actually collect what you're trying to imitate. You can see what color things really are and you may be surprised how they are colored nothing like the flies commonly used to imitate them. For dry flies, look at the belly of the bugs, that's what the fish are actually looking at.

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If your hands are rough, and snag thread as your tying, file them.

Use a good nail file, or a small sharpening stone, even fine sandpaper will do. The cracks and "flakes" that are grabbing the thread are in the callous layer, which can be sanded/ground/filed off, leaving smooth skin behind.

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When I set down to tie several flies wets, dry's, nymphs it don't matter I use small Wire test hook clip grabbers, I think I got 10 for like $1.25 then I took a piece of foam and drilled holes the size to hold the clips solid .

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Focus on the processes to tie the flies instead, of the whole pattern. Learn the process then apply that process to the patterns as needed.

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Here's a couple I either didn't see or that I don't personally agree with:


1) When you're finishing off a weed guard or whip finishing at the head of a deer hair bug, first push a piece of plastic bag over the hook eye, then start your thread. The plastic will keep your thread from grabbing deer hair fibers. When you're done, the bag will basically tear right out.


2) Use a double edged razor for shaping deer hair heads. IMO, you'll never get as good of a result with scissors.


3) Cautery tools are handy for cleaning around hook eyes, but the batteries go fast and tips are pricey. Buy a cheap plug-in wood burner. You'll get the same benefits of the cautery tool but with no expensive tips to replace and no batteries


4) Challenge yourself, and don't settle for "good enough." Pay attention to details and the quality and consistency of your flies will improve.

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2) Use a double edged razor for shaping deer hair heads. IMO, you'll never get as good of a result with scissors.

Totally agree. The trick is to bend the blade so it snaps in half. You'll need both hands to do this. Place the forefinger and thumb of each hand on the corners of the blade and squeeze them together. The blade will bend and snap in half. You end up with two blades that are more flexible than the single blade. I've done this many, many times and I still have all my fingers.

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These tips are great! I have always believed in tying with as many others as possible.

Every time I tie with other people, I pick up new methods and tricks to accomplish the

same end goal - some of these I file away and most I either incorporate entirely or in

part to make my tying easier and more fun.


As Flytire suggested, maybe Mike or Steve could make this into a pinned subject so we

can continue to add and discover each other's "secrets".

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If you are a Pacific slope trout fisher getting ready to buy your first neck, reconsider and maybe pick up a saddle instead. Most necks out here end up with a narrow band of hackles stripped off for use and 80% of the rest never get used because they are too big. You'll get better bang for your buck with a good saddle or 100 pack.


If you are tempted to scarf up some roadkill to add to your material stash, put your harvest in a sealed plastic bag and stash it in the freezer for 6-9 months to kill the cooties lurking thereon.


If you put a dead animal, or parts thereof, in your freezer, WARN YOUR WIFE! Life can take an unpleasant turn if she thinks she's grabbing an ice cream bar out of a bag and instead finds a frozen little paw in her hand...

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Ask questions. Most people weather it be here or at my local fly shop will tell you what you want to know.I've never had a problem getting an answer to a question that was plaguing me. I will say this though. Sometimes people can be brutally honest. So ask, ask, ask.

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Read through all of the posts and thought that every one of them were valid... and said a quiet prayer of thanks that in my saltwater world I'm not using half the materials mentioned....


That said, here's a good tip that will improve anyone's tying efforts.... Simply save a copy of any new pattern that you tie and don't fish it. Make it the best example of that pattern in terms of materials, proportions, colors, etc. That way the next time you want to do that same pattern you have what amounts to a "master". Over time you'll modify the pattern a bit (at least I do...) as you improve it through use and decide that one part or another needs a bit of change - as you do that save a new master...


Saving master patterns helps in all sorts of ways. It speeds up your tying schedule, allows you to exactly duplicate a given pattern, particularly when the exact color is important, etc. Over the years you'll develop a library of sorts documenting things that have worked (or were never requested a second time....). Nothing more frustrating than to come up with something new, have great success with it on the water -then realize you're not sure of the exact materials or dimensions later on when you're only operating from memory...


Many years ago I got in the habit of doing one or two extra of any pattern that I was tying for my own use. To pick the one or two I was saving I'd line up the dozen or fifty, or one hundred bugs then choose the absolute best samples - both to fish or to create a new master... I found that this kind of review encouraged me to be consistent and critical of my efforts - in short, saving a copy actually improved my tying abilities. As a commercial tyer (now retired...) it sure was handy to be able to accurately reproduce a pattern that I did years and years ago and having a master was the key....


Hope this helps

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