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beginner material list?

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A hundred bucks is plenty for a start if your not impulsive. My favorite trout flies, in order, are 1) gold ribbed bead and non bead head hares ear 2) pheasant tail nymph, 3) elk hair caddis, 4) comparadun dry flies 5) everything else. Mostly tied in size 16. I use a hares ear 80% of the time.


Far cheaper and easier to tie compardun style flies that use deer hair and no hackle. They work just as good if not better. That's a tip someone here gave me and Ive never looked back. If you really want to hackle up dry flies I would recommend the orvis intro pack containing four half capes. Wait for their coupon and you can get it for under 50 bucks. You will find that about the only real difference in dry flies is the color of dubbing, tail length and amount of hackle. I bought the intro pack years ago and still have it and I probably won't ever use it all.

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For this tyer it seems to me Poopdeck has it right, but I'd adjust it a little.... The OP isn't wanting to match hatches or get too fancy or over-buy, or over tie. He's wanting to tie some general purpose flies he can use to travel with and catch fish wherever he goes. I assume that means trout, but that could be wrong. Thinking about materials and useful flies, and what a beginner can tie...


1. Start with thread midges on #16 dry fly hooks in black, tan, and olive, with a fine copper wire rib. Tie 10 of each. This will get you a lot of easy flies that catch fish when nothing else seems to work. Tie some with a short piece of pearl flashabou at the tail. Not sure why, but they work. These are small, but it's just thread on a hook so I think a beginner can tackle it, and the small size will be great on the river.


2. Once you get comfortable tying thread on a hook, move on to the hares ear nymph, using #14 nymph hooks, tan thread, pheasant tail for the tail and wing case (tie some with flashabou for the wing case), copper ribbing (some with flashabou ribbing), and hares mask for the body and thorax. Use different shades of the mask. Tie 20 of these. This will get you a lot of bushy nymphs that work whenever trout are hungry. Eventually you might want some smaller. But for now #14 will do fine.


3. Once you get comfortable tying tails, wing cases, and fur bodies, tie 20 pheasant tail nymphs again using #14 nymph hooks, pheasant tail for the tail, body, and wingcase (and legs) (tie some with flashabou for the wingcase), copper ribbing, and peacock herl for the thorax. This will get you tying thinner profiles using more delicate materials, and will get you a lot of thin profile nymphs. Again, eventually you'll want some tied smaller, but for now this is fine.


4. Now that you're comfortable tying with herl, tie up 20 griffith's gnats using size 16 dry hooks, flashabou tail, grizzly hackle, and peacock herl. This gets you tying smaller patterns with the herl, gets you using rooster hackle on a forgiving fly, and gets you a killer pattern for surface and even subsurface. (float it on the surface and then pull it under on the swing)


5. Tie another 20 wet flies alternating peacock herl and pheasant tail for the bodies (ribbed with wire), only this time using webby hackle of almost any sort. This will get you some great wet flies and will get you tying wet fly hackle. You can tie some on #14 nymph, some on #16 dry; you'll get a good variety of sizes and shapes that way. They come in handy for times when you want to fish a wet fly. If you like these, later buy a 1/2 hungarian partridge for $16 and maybe some floss in a few colors.


6. Now you're ready to tie your elk hair caddis patterns. Tie 20. size 16 dry hook, copper rib, sparse hares mask body, brown palmer hackle, elk hair wing. This will get you tying dries, using hackle, using elk hair in a manner that's easy to learn, and will get you tying small, and will give you another of the most all around useful dry flies.


7. Piece de resistance -- the adams parachute. (I differ with poopdeck on the comparaduns... I really do like comparaduns. But they are much harder to tie well than these others.). #14 nymph hook (then #16 dry hook). white poly parachute posts, brown and grizzly hackle for tails, gray underfur for body, brown and grizzly hackle for the parachute. This gives you imo the best universal fly there is, useful for both dries and emergers, and even cripples. Between the griffith's gnat, the elk hair caddis and the adams parachute you can catch almost all the loose surface action there is.


This will give you a full box or two of nymphs, wets and dries that you can use to fish for trout in almost any conditions, almost anywhere, any time. It will also leave you with a bunch of good skills that you can use for tying most patterns you'd like if you want to expand your repertoire. Replace the patterns when you've used them.


Best yet, here's your materials list:


1. First buy some barbless hooks at wholesale fly co: 100 of their standard nymph size 14 and 100 of their standard dry size 16. ($17 including postage)


2. Next buy your thread and wire, a pheasant tail pack, and some pearl flashabou at any fly shop. 8/0 uni in black, tan, and olive. Fine copper wire. Natural pheasant tail. Total will total less than $20. Others will differ on threads. IMO, the 8/0 uni gives you room to make mistakes, the colors give you natural darks and lights, and imo uni is a great starting thread. It's forgiving. The copper wire is a good universal color and the fine thickness will be the most useful over time. If you need thicker you can double it. The pearl flashabou is good for flashback nymphs.


3. Buy what's left of my feathers and fur package on the trading floor for $10 plus postage, and buy the brown & grizzly hackle package for $15. That's $25 plus postage.


That's a total of $60 - $70.

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To chug's list of flies I would add some Killer Bugs, in either # 12 nymph or dry. A bit of copper wire, some Yarn & a bit of thread is all you'll need, and lots of different fishys will gobble 'em up forthwith.



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Is there a list on this site of what is a decent set of materials for a basic set of flies? I am just starting out and have a decent vise and tools but want to start a collection of threads/yarns/ and general fly tying materials. Is there a vendor with a decent package? i don't want to spend $100 and find that half of it is unusable.


I realize that i can likely get some basics at various hobby shops but with tons of colors and various expenses it's difficult to choose. I think i'd like to get a set of threads/wires, tinsel and chenille and various feathers and furs. Re there vendors with basic sets of these at decent prices?


It may be i am finally getting old as most prices seem ridiculously high.


Any and all comments are welcome.


My goals are to fish generically. I am retiring this spring and will be travelling all over as much as i can (just bought a new truck and truck camper).







You have gotten a lot of suggestions. Here is mine.

So lets start with thread. There are two main thread materials, nylon and polyester.

Nylon stretches and gives the tyer a warning before it breaks. Because nylon stretches, the wraps as tighten and beginners flies will look better initially BUT the as the nylon relaxes, the wraps will loosen gradually over time. Polyester does not stretch so it is more difficult for a beginner BUT the wraps will stay tight over time. A non bonded tread can be spit for split thread dubbing and is more versatile but requires more attention from the tuer to control the twist in the thread

Danville is a lightly bonded nylon thread, Wapsi UTC is a non bonded nylon, Unithread is a bonded polyester, and Veevus is a non bonded polyester. Pick your thread. You can buy basic black and white to save money or you can buy thread to match the colors of the fly. Black, grey, brown, olive, and sulphur yellow will cover most needs.

One place you can save is hooks and hooks are expensive. I buy Saber brand hooks but there are others that have a good reputation like Allen and there are others.

For Saber for here and buy the 100 packs to start for the the flies you for the types and sizes of flies that you will tie a lot of. For example, the most common size of dry fly is size 14 so I would buy a 100 pk of dry fly hooks for 6.99. A 25 pk is 3.99 so for $3.00 more you get more 75 more hooks. That is a bargain.


Secondly, there are insects that you must imitate and that depends on the streams and rivers you will fish. For example, you will need a mayfly patterns for nymphs, emergers, and adults. To save money you can tie nymph patterns on a dry fly hook although they are better tied on 1XL 1XH hooks.

The most popular pattern for emerger and dries is the parachute pattern. A size 14 parachute Adams is the most popular “dry” fly sold in the USA. BUT parachutes require dry fly hackle which is expensive. The alternative is the Sparkledun for the emerger and comparadun for the adult dry fly. However, they require a special grade of deer hair that is difficult to find. I see terrible versions of sparkle duns and comparaduns because the hair is prepackage and bought off the shelf. So for both parachute adams, sparkle duns, and comparaduns, quality materials matter.

See this post on how to buy quality hair.


See this post on how to grade hackle.


The bottom line for dry flies is that hackle is expensive BUT if you buy a a Whiting hackle even in the lowest grade you will be guaranteed to get usable hackle that will tie good flies. Deer and elk hair is cheaper, but your chances of getting good hair for the smaller size 14, 16, 18 sized flies from a random pack is just about very low.

Next are adult caddis flies and again you will need quality hair whether you are tying an emerger like an X-Caddis or an adult like an elk hair caddis. You can leave the hackle off of an EHC and it will do fine except in heavy rifffles.

You will need dubbing for the above flies. For the mayflies, buy a synthetic “superfine” dubbing in adams grey and then in the colors for the other hatches you will be fishing such as a sulphur yellow or a march brown, etc.

Caddis adults have a rougher texture body that is not smooth like the adult mayfly. So dubbing that has some guard hairs and even some sparkle yarn can be used. To save money you can use the same hare’s ear dubbing for that you would use for hare’s ear nymphs and hand mix it with some of the superfine dubbing to create a custom mixed blend that will work for the X-caddis and elk hair caddis.

For nymphs, buy a light and dark hare’s ear dubbing and buy some pheasant tail feathers from the CENTER of the tail. The center feather will have the longest barbs and these long barbs are able to tie the longest flies and they will have the best and longest barbules. Then you will be able to tie the two of the most common nymphs. I would add the materials for a prince nymph as my third choice and a copper john as my 4th. If midges are common in your area then buy materials for midge pupa instead of the copper john.

With the pheasant tail, you can tie a shop vac which is a simple generic emerger pattern. You can look for yarns around the house and use them to tie colors of the serendipity which is similar to the shop vac but it comes in various colors.

Finally, I would get materials to tie ants and some form of hopper. You can buy some craft foam at JoAnnes or Hobby Lobby to make these flies.

Finally I would tie up some wooly buggers. Buy some black, olive, and brown marabou and matching chenille as you can afford it. Start with black. If you cannot afford to matching hackle colors, just use the black hackle for the olive and brown buggers.


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since you really dont need 100 hooks to start tying flies get them from the fly shop for $1.75 per 25 hooks or $7 per 100 if you really think you need that many




currently there is 20% of fly tying thread at jstockard. no need to pay $3 per spool


15% of on keough hackle. no need to spend $$$ on whiting hackle (at least to begin)




sign up for online fly shop newsletters for additional savings of fly tying materials


you can buy alot of tying materials by using online fly shop discounts



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