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Beginner fly tying equipment

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After looking at some of the fly designs, flies members have made, and price of buying flies Im looking at picking up fly tying equipment. Recommendations on a kit or any guidance on this matter?

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tool sets














material kits






This list of beginner tying materials is simply a list based on my 39+ 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. Could other items have appeared on the list? Of course they could but that's somebody elses list. Other tyers will add or subtract materials to their liking. So be it. Remember its a BASIC list of materials. It contains materials the 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 may 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 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 hares ear (various colors) & superfine dubbing for dry flies
15. Gray duck or goose wing feathers (used for wing cases)
16. Head cement
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 (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)
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.
Another 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.

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Buy a small inexpensive kit to begin with. Sometimes you can even find used stuff. If you are looking to save money tying flies - probably not.. What it will afford you is an oppertunaty to make flies you just can't buy in stores. Thats the fun part. Tying requires a lot of practice to get good at. A lot of tyers on this site are masters, and have spent decades perfecting their art - and their creations are truly art. And most sound advice take a course if one is offered in you area, if not try and find a competant mentor. When it comes to using tools, knots, nomenclature etc you will save time.

All the Best!!



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Bought my vice there, for about 30 bucks less than retail.


Spider cam vise.



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Again, many different opinions. My opinion is there is nothing difficult about it and the learning curve is almost straight. Just about any starter vise and tool kit is fine for beginners and masters alike and will last a life time. All the vise does is hold the hook so you want to make sure the vise you buy will actually hold a hook firmly. I would recommend staying away from kits that include material. As somebody already mentioned, cheap materials can lead to frustration when just starting out. If you happen to like tying flies you can always buy different vises in the future and many of us have multiple vises. I find none any better then the others, only different, for the simple task of tying flies. I have a model A vise, a Regal, and griffin vises as well as vises made from vice grips and hemo stats. I tie on each and every one depending on my whim of the day.


I'm a proponent of picking a couple patterns you want to tie and buy only the materials for those patterns to start. Remember, YouTube is your friend and will take all the mystery out of fly tying. Start with the easy patterns like wooly buggers, hares ear, PT nymphs, or any of the panfish fly patterns out there before tying dry flies. Most materials can be used in a great many patterns. As you add patterns your material collection will build all on its own with little noticible investment. You will find that most nymphs are tied the same way, most dry flies are tied the same way and most streamers are tied the same way and it's only the color and minor material differences that changes the pattern name.


The old saving money angle is often laughed at. Me, I save a lot of money tying flies. If I didn't I would buy my flies. Fly tying materials go a long ways for little money. I have fly tying material inherited from my father. Your material pile will grow simply because it's hard to use it all. At least that's my situation and apparently my fathers as well.


Don't let the myths of expense, difficulty and the need for wizbang tying tools delay or stop you from trying it out. Spend what you can afford or want to spend and start tying. You can spend the cost of 100 flies for start up and have all the tools needed and end up with a hundred flies or you can spend five times the cost of a 100 flies and just end up with a vice. The choice is all up to you but the possibilities are endless. Enjoy.

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All the years of tying and all the fish we have caught, all the trips to Maine and catching all the salmon we have and brook trout we have caught up there, all the salt water flies tied in my most active years of fly fishing , the flies were tied mostly on one of the India made vises that comes with the three jaw set. I have HMH vises now but that Indian vise is still in my tying kit for travel and it's all I use when away. Before that India made vise I had a Model A that my stepson uses now. I switched to the India made vise , didn't have a lot of money to work with and wanted a rotating vise so I could wrap a few things easier without twisting materials all up and it had one set of jaws that became my primary set that were finer than the Model A jaws were.


So those do work if money is tight going into this.


I never bought into a materials kit, I picked a fly I knew I needed and bought the materials for that fly alone and just kept going along like that. Turned out two of the most productive flies for my local waters didn't need much more than some marabou, thread and grizzly hackle and some black rabbit dubbing, maybe a spiral of gold wire or other gold ribbing material. Peacock herl is worth owning, you can dress up most nymphs and wets with a turn or two of that stuff, or sub it in for the wing case and the fish respond to that better than to the best pheasant or turkey fibers you can buy. Now I have more materials than I really need, the ones you really need are the ones you have to keep replacing while the rest mostly sit idle.

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Use all the main outlets to shop and compare then search your chosen items on e-bay. Many as-new vises will include materials and tools in the deal as pre-owned.
Bob Marriot might have it all- https://www.bobmarriottsflyfishingstore.com/fly-tying/fly-tying-tools

Basic needs;

Sharp fine pointed scissors- Big finger holes! or open loops that can be opened more- embroidery or surgical or cosmetic types you may already have- I like the Iris surgical straight type.

Matarelli stye whip finisher-

Bodkin or darning needle-

Hackle holder/pliers- I like the English style, the medium size with masking tape around one point.

Bobbin holder- I like the Materelli style

Vise- I've been using the Thompson "A" vise for many years and can't wear it out- it works from #24-#2 and maybe smaller or bigger- I also have a Sunrise Model "AA"; a India knock off of the "A" and it works fine too. Other vises that I might like include the Renzetti Traveler
I can say I have never felt handicapped by not having a rotary vise although I can see that it could save a second or two per fly.

Pick two or three basic flies (no more than 5) and buy only the materials needed for those patterns after several dozen of each of three patterns you will have a btter appreciation of what you want.
flytires list is pretty comprehensive.


Tools I never use include the bobbin threader, hair stacker and half hitch tool.

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I like fly tyers dungeon for a lot of material especially for warm water but there's good stuff for trout too.

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Like most have said, decide on the flies you want to tie, then buy just the Materials to tie those flies.


Start out small, then if you get into tying, you can go hog wild buying all of the chatchkas.


I started out with a cheap Tool kit with a Vise that was OK, then 'moved up' to a vintage Thompson Model A. The Tools work just fine.


The important thing is to enjoy yourself. Take your time, learn the Basics, & watch lots of Videos. I find the ones from 'tightlinevideo' are very good.


Alan :)

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Like just about everything asking for suggestions, ask 20 different people and you get 20 different answers. However many of the responses all say about the same for a beginner: Thompson "A" vise.


I think flytire has put together a pretty good comprehensive list of things to cover most tying needs.


One thing I haven't seen mentioned; if you have friends who hunt pheasant, grouse, deer or elk, you can get some materials that are used in many flies. If you know someone who knits, lifetime supply of yarns of various types and colors. Also, copper wire, and sometimes silver wire, can be gotten in a few different sizes just by salvaging from old motors or electronics.


Some of the tools can be easily home made: bodkin, hair stacker, etc. and in my opinion, work just as well, if not better, than purchased tools.


If you are so of a mind, a cheap coffee grinder for a thrift store can provide you with tons of dubbing made to you own specs. Thrift store can also provide some stuff good for tying.


I started with a Herter's knock off of a Thompson "A", have added an India knock off of the "A" vise, which is now in my 'travel kit'. Went to a non-rotating Regal, then "true" rotating vise and now use a Nor-Vise. The nor-vise and rotating vise are nice for some things but the "A" vise works well for just about everything, just not as fancy, and the rotating vises are certainly not necessary.


One thing I started just for the fun of it, and still do it once in a while. I pick up threads, yarn, bits of floss, bird feathers (just be careful about endangered species), bits of foam, etc. to see what I an tie with it, hooks (and maybe thread) being the only material purchased.

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This list of beginners tying tools is simply a list based on my 39+ 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.




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 “Matterelli” 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. Used to make half hitches 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 bucktail, 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 spikey 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 bucktails 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.

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Chugbug, if that vise goes much over $25.00 check out this one from J Stockard very similar, and the only design among the hundreds of cheap Asian vises I would recommend. Now that the Thompson vises are made offshore, I hesitate to say just what kind of quality thay have, and won't recommend the new Thompsons. My first vise was and old US made Thompson model A, and my second was a Thompson Pro. Both are going strong after more than 55 years of tying on the model A, and 30 on the Pro. Look for US MADE Thompsons on Ebay.

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It sold quickly for $40. Came with what looked like a Renzetti foam tool caddy, a solid enough set of tools (including brass hair stackers, a bunch of hooks (looked like Tiemco, hard to tell), a couple box sets of dubbing, thread, etc. The vise was just extra imo. Could be replaced after getting past beginner.

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