For many, the thought of getting into fly tying can be intimidating. It can be perceived as a tedious, time consuming, expensive, and sometimes down right aggravating endeavor. But with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Once a fly is perfected, the end result of tricking a fish to eat your little masterpiece is one of the most rewarding achievements in fly tying. For me, tying flies is enjoyable because it is a never ending learning process. There are almost limitless possibilities of variations of materials, techniques, tools, and fly patterns. This can also be extremely daunting for someone who is starting out in the fly tying trade. Thankfully you don’t need all the fancy vises and tools and you really don’t need that much material to start learning how to tie some really effective fly patterns.
So what do you need to start making little works of art? Without a doubt, a good pair of scissors is the most important piece of equipment you need for tying. Sharp scissors will make your tying experience much more enjoyable! A very close second is your tying vise. The vise is extremely important because it holds the hook securely in place so that you can more easily attach materials to it. That being said, I have seen someone with a $20 vise tie better flies than someone with a $400 vise. It is very much based on practice, personal preference, and budget.
A few other beginning essentials would be a bobbin and a whip finisher. A bobbin holds your thread and makes it easier to attach material to the hook and a whip finisher is a tool that helps tie the final knot to secure all of your hard work to the hook. I personally have used the same bobbin and whip finisher for about 15 years and they cost probably $5 a piece. Do more expensive tools make you a better tier? I’m not sure. Of course there are a plethora of other tools for fly tying but these will get you headed in the right direction.
The next question is what makes a good fly? For me, and I’m pretty sure every other fly angler out there, a good fly is one that catches fish. There is a saying that ‘flies are for fisherman, not for the fish’. Which I really do agree with. I certainly have fly patterns that I have more confidence in than others but because of that, I fish them more. This results in more fish being caught with that specific fly and then an even bigger confidence boost in the pattern. Most flies, when fished correctly will catch fish. Fished correctly being the key, which is a whole other can of worms.
All I’m saying is that when you’re learning to tie flies don’t be bashful about fishing something that isn’t perfect; insects aren’t perfect. Just because your first attempt at a new fly might look terrible to you, it could be absolutely irresistible to a fish. That’s what makes fly tying so much fun… You’re never wrong! Almost everything you create could work and probably will work. The vastness of fly tying is only limited by your creativity. There more you tie the better you’ll get and the more fish you will start to catch. So what are you waiting for? Just start tying!