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"from another hobby" fly tying materials...useful or not?

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#1 azmarston

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 09:51 AM

Hi everyone!  I am new to fly tying. (Aside from a brief class that I took about 30 years ago in eighth grade.) I do a lot of other craft/art/miniature work, so I am fairly good with tiny objects and handling different materials such as thread, wire, fur, etc.  And as a result of those other hobbies...I have a variety of materials already on hand. 

 

My question is:  Is there anything that I need to be aware of when using "non-fly tying" materials? 

 

For example: is the chenille I have from the local craft store any different than the stuff marketed for tying flies?  Is the thread any different than sewing/quilting/etc thread?  Is there any reason I can't wax the thread to help with fraying like I do when I sew?  (light coat of beeswax)

 

I have lots of metallic and other threads/flosses/yarns that seem like they would be perfect for some of the fly patterns but I don't know if they have to have any certain properties to handle being in the water?  And wire...can I use craft wire?  I have all sorts of different colors and gauges.  (but it's not lead)  I also have a ton of different beads...do they have to be reamed out on one side to use for heads, or am I getting too complicated?

Thanks for any tips/suggestions.  I am excited to start this new hobby (obsession?).

 

-Abby : )



#2 chugbug27

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 10:18 AM

Synthetic and animal derived products rather than vegetation derived products is the general rule. Some waters forbid lead. This said, I do think the chenille everyone uses for fly tying has a cotton core, but I could be wrong there.

Welcome!
cb27

#3 yooperflyfisher

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 11:05 AM

Welcome,

As for thread make sure if you get sewing thread it would last a lot longer if it’s polyester and any hooks below size 12 are really hard not too crowd the head if using sewing thread.

#4 mikechell

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 11:38 AM

To start:  Welcome to the site, Abby.

 

I am a very "cheap" fly tier.  I only tie flies for my fishing ... no decorative or display flies.  Rarely, I'll try a new design or pattern, but mostly just the ones that have proven themselves to me over and over again.  Much of my materials are from Dollar Tree.

 

Many of my flies are tied with sewing thread.  It's thicker than fly tying thread.  It's also woven or braided, which means is is always "round" in the cross section.  Fly tying threads are thinner, and usually not woven.  Spun out, they are flat with the fibers more or less side-by-side.  This allows for much smaller "bumps" where more wraps of thread are needed.  It also means the fly tying thread is better at holding materials to the hook, as each strand helps to grab.  Sewing thread is, essentially, one strand for each wrap around the hook.  It works for larger flies with larger hooks ... not at all for tiny flies on tiny hooks.

 

Natural materials are good for pretty flies.  Necessary for pattern replication.  Prone to rot and mold if allowed to get wet and not dried out.

 

Synthetic materials might not look as good, but are much more durable against time and fish teeth.

 

If the bead fits over the hook and barb, then use it.  I use glass craft beads for some of my flies, and they work and look fine, until they hit something hard.  Metal beads are inexpensive, the ones for fly tying are opened up on one side to get past the barb and bend of a hook.

 

Welcome again ... and good luck.


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#5 Flicted

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 12:19 PM

I think the other Mike hit on the most important factor and that is the ability of the material to hold up in water. Some chenille, feathers, fur, etc. for other purposes is not very color fast and will fade and bleed color when they get wet. There may be other materials that look different when they are wet, maybe take on a much darker shade. I have seen nice looking tinsels basically melt when wet. Dry flies for the most part use materials that do not absorb water to keep them afloat.

Some things in fly tying are more expensive because of the brand name or simply because it's a special purpose. You can save a lot of money using other materials and using other materials can add realism to existing fly patterns. I like to stick to natural fur and feathers as much as possible. But your creativity could help you design some very catchable flies.

#6 fshng2

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 01:01 PM

Yes bees-wax is used on thread to prevent fraying and to keep thread from moving.

Davie Mcphail preparing wax for fly tying

 

The materials you have should all work fine for fly tying in general.

Many fly tiers, my self included use these type craft materials too.

However the size wire, thread, and other materials can limit how small of a fly you will be able to tie. 

 

Tips:

1. Make sure hooks are sharp.

2.Test your flies in a sink, or glass of water, and ultimately fish them to see if they perform (float, sink or move) to your liking. 

3. I wash all my maribou feathers (craft or fly tying) in soap and water as they all bleed and will ruin other flies they touch.



#7 Philly

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 02:03 PM

I use some craft materials.  As far as thread goes, I stick to fly tying thread, thread size being the main reason on the smaller flies.   What I do use a lot is the clear polyester thread you can pick up in the sewing section.  All my bait fish patterns, and flies like Clousers are tied with it.  I just picked spools of silver, gold and copper metallic polyester thread to use as bodies on my zonkers and some other patterns.  I'm just getting back into using Kreninik blending filament for the bodies on my beetle patterns.  It doesn't show up well in this picture, but the underbody is made from a metallic black thread and glow-in- the dark thread and the "wing" is made from craft foam. 

 

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Craft store feathers and marabou aren't the greatest.  I do buy the packs of  goose feathers.  I use the bottom of the quill for small freshwater pencil poppers.  Most of the chenille I've seen in craft stores is too large for most of the flies I tie since I usually wrap it around the hook shank and I don't need the bulk size it's sold in.  I use tulle, pearl and silver, to make scale patterns on my crease flies and the poppers I make out of craft foam.

 

Something I'm having a problem finding that I use a lot, is transfer/Art Deco foil.  I can use it to add a sparkle or metallic finish on my foam flies. 

 

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I've used the very small beads for some insect patterns since they're easy to slide around the hook bend.  It's almost impossible to do with the larger ones.  Wire in the craft store I've found pricey.  I scrounge mine from pieces of electrical wire or cord. Old IPod ear buds have a really nice thin wire I can use on smaller flies.

 

Experiment with the materials you have and see what happens.

 

 


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#8 utyer

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 03:40 PM

I don't use any "fly tying" threads at all.  I have been using Gutermann Skala thread for small flies, and Gutermann Bulky Nylon for larger flies.  I also use 1 or 2# monofilament for a lot of salt water patterns.  Other "craft store" items make up the bulk of my materials.  Sulky hollowshimmer I use for flash, Macrame yarn for bait fish patterns,   Foam from Walmart, and dollar store nail polish.  Other items I use are paracord, and many types of yarns.  There are some fly tying materials that I do use like Bucktail, and Calf tail, and hooks.  As long as you use synthetic thread nylon, or polyester, you shouldn't have problems.   


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#9 Poopdeck

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 08:09 PM

I'm cheap but I find that for the most part craft store stuff is generally cheap quality and not made for being in water. so I don't use it outside of foam and colored sharpies. The good news is MOST fly tying material is cheap to buy and a better quality which makes tying easier. I don't like the thickness of sewing thread. I do use skala 200, or maybe it's 600 I can't remember, and sharpies when I don't have a particular color thread but that's on a 10000 meter roll that I mainly bought for leaders.

But the answer is yes. You can use and tie with whatever you want as you can see from the varied responses.

#10 flytire

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 06:14 AM

Hi everyone!  I am new to fly tying. (Aside from a brief class that I took about 30 years ago in eighth grade.) I do a lot of other craft/art/miniature work, so I am fairly good with tiny objects and handling different materials such as thread, wire, fur, etc.  And as a result of those other hobbies...I have a variety of materials already on hand. 

 

My question is:  Is there anything that I need to be aware of when using "non-fly tying" materials?  yes

 

For example: is the chenille I have from the local craft store any different than the stuff marketed for tying flies?  the craft store chenille may be of the same make up of fly tying chenille but is usually too large for fly tying

 

Is the thread any different than sewing/quilting/etc thread?  fly tying thread is different than sewing thread but sewing thread could be used for larger flies. polyester thread might be the one to use and i think comes in small sizes. however fly tying thread is relatively inexpensive so get a couple of spools in black and white.

 

Is there any reason I can't wax the thread to help with fraying like I do when I sew?  (light coat of beeswax) if you currently have a container of sewing thread wax you can use it. waxing thread is quite popular when tying with silk threads and has be done for ages.

 

il_fullxfull.515842642_tscl_470x.jpg

 

I have lots of metallic and other threads/flosses/yarns that seem like they would be perfect for some of the fly patterns but I don't know if they have to have any certain properties to handle being in the water? yes all of the items you indicate has been used in fly tying for ages

 

 

And wire...can I use craft wire?  I have all sorts of different colors and gauges.  (but it's not lead)  craft wire can be used but the gauge can be quite large. best to find the smallest of gauges like 28-38

 

I also have a ton of different beads...do they have to be reamed out on one side to use for heads, or am I getting too complicated? seed beads are quite popular in fly tying. no you dont have to ream out the beads to fit the hook. you should use a hook whose diameter fits the bead. here is som info on beads http://flytyingnewan...ch?q=seed beads

 

fly tying beads are manufactured from brass or tungsten metals and provide weight to get flies to bottom of rivers and stream where the fish are feeding and for a little flash of color. there are many 'hook to bead size' conversion charts on-line

 

there is a lot of other craft/dollar/hardware store materials that can be substituted for fly tying materials. most fly tying materials arent exactly created for fly tying. they come from the craft industry in one form or another.

 

Thanks for any tips/suggestions.  I am excited to start this new hobby (obsession?).

 

-Abby : )


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#11 DFoster

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 02:08 PM

Hi Abby, welcome!   The craft store can be a fly tiers friend but there are a lot of materials you will need to get from the fly shop if you intend to tie a proper looking example.    A good place to start is to choose a couple of simple patterns, on a manageable size hook, review the materials you'll need .  You tube is a great resource for step by step instruction on how to tie a particular fly pattern. 


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#12 chugbug27

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 05:52 PM

Here are some of the many craft materials I can think of that work really well...

Sulky holoshimmer for flash
Aunt Lydia's acrylic yarn for antron
1 & 2mm closed cell foam sheets for same
Macrame yarn for EP fibers
Size 11 & maybe 15 seed beads for same (esp silver lined)
Also miyuki magatama or offset beads for same
Silk thread or silk floss for same
DMC Embroidery floss for same
Wool yarn for same
Organza ribbon for spinner wings
Craft fur for same
Poly yarn for same
cb27

#13 azmarston

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 03:19 PM

Thanks for all the great ideas and explanations!





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