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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Introduction to Fly Tying

Fly tying is an enjoyable pastime that anyone can learn. Whether it becomes an all out passion or simply a way to pass the time between trips to the river is very much up to you. But all those who tie their own flies would agree; there is nothing better than catching trout on flies that you have tied, even better if they are of your own design. 

In this short piece we will run you through the equipment and materials you need to get started. This simple selection of gear will get you tying your own flies in no time and with the help of our Fly of the Week tutorials we will help you to sharpen those skills. Fly tying is easy, fly tying is inexpensive and most of all fly tying is fun. So read on and learn how easily you too can get started.


The Vice

A fly tying vice can be as simple or as complicated a piece of machinery as the individualA Standard Vice desires. Vices can have material clips, full rotational functions, different sized jaws and so on but the main, if not only real function is to hold the hook securely in place. All vices should hold the hook firmly enough for the hook to be bent while locked in place. The vice holds the hook allowing the tier to devote both his hands to actually tying the fly. The more expensive ones are a real luxury item and we can only recommend them to those who really want the finer things in life or those who have an unlimited budget. The beginner who wishes to purchase on a budget can find something good for between $40 - $70.


This is an indispensable piece of equipment in that it efficiently holds spools of thread allowing accurate placement of thread wraps, ease of use and very little wastage. All flies are tied withBobbins thread and so this is a must have. Before bobbins existed the fly tier had to hold the spool in their hands which as you can imagine was rather cumbersome. They are relatively inexpensive and you can pick up a cheaper one for about $10 with the best ones about the $40 mark. When you can afford it a second and third bobbin should be purchased so that spools of different colour and diameter thread can be left set up, ready to go. This saves a lot of time changing threads every time you wish to tie a different coloured fly.

Hackle Pliers

Some people like to tie flies using their fingers to wrap the hackle. While this is effective whenHackle Pliers using large and expensive saddle hackles it is not appropriate for smaller cape hackles. A pair of hackle pliers allow you to grip the feather delicately in any position and then wrap it gently with good control. I have a preference for the smaller, lighter, tear drop shaped ones and they should cost somewhere between $5 - $20.


Essential to all fly tiers. Two pairs are needed. One smaller delicate pair with shorter narrow blades should be used only for soft materials and smaller flies. A second heavy duty pairScissors should be used to cut all tough materials like deer hair, copper wire, lead etc. Never use your good scissors for cutting anything but thread and the softest of materials. Cheap scissors start at about $10 with the excellent pairs about $40. A good compromise is to get a cheap pair of the heavy duty ones and the more expensive small ones.

Half Hitch Tool

In many fly tying texts you will read of a whip finishing tool. These are relatively expensive (only have oneHalf Hitch Tool function) and are awkward to learn to use. Rather than whip finishing to complete a fly a couple of half hitches are more than adequate. In all the years I have been tying my own flies I have never had one come apart at the last knot. Half Hitch tools often are multi purpose, usually in the form of a dubbing needle one end, hollow tube the other. This makes them great value for money as well as being very easy to use. They cost between $7.50 - $30.00. For those wanting to save even more use the tapered end of a plastic biro as a substitute. I know many fly tiers who do.

Light/MagnifierThe more expensive model!

Last but not least we come to the lighting you will use. This need not be expensive either. A small directional halogen lamp can be purchased for about $30. These are great for those not needing perfect light and for those who are pressed for space on their fly tying bench. For the rest of us who need a little more help with the eyesight there is a variety of combination light/magnifiers out there. ForThe Bunnings version: at around $40 it represents great value! the budget conscience there is the Bunning's version which comes in at about $45 and gives reasonable lighting and magnification. A must for anyone's whose eyes are not what they used to be. If the eyesight is really bad or you just want to see as well as possible there are the larger, high quality lamps available at Bunning's, Spotlight, Australian Lighting and all good lighting stores. Costing between $150 - $200 they offer great eye saving light with excellent magnification.

That is all the equipment you need to tie your own flies. Of course the lamp is optional and if you tie during the day in a spot with good natural light you will not need artificial light at all. Continue on for a look at a comprehensive yet basic list of materials you should try and obtain.

Now lets take a look at a list of materials that you should try and obtain. 


The Vice

Hooks Dry Fly (Tiemco 100)    #10,12,14,16       # indicates Hook Size 
Hooks Nymph (Tiemco 3769)   #10,12,14,16       
Hooks Wet Fly (Tiemco 100)    #8, 10
Copper Wire               
Lead Wire .10mm and .20mm
Gold Beads Suit # 12- 16 Hook 2 - 4mm Beads
Threads: 6/0 Uni Thread Dark Brown and Black
Capes: Brown and Black
Hi-Vis Honey and Grey
Micro Fibbetts in Dark Brown and Black
Dubbing: Antron in Grey, Rust, Brown, Black, Orange, Yellow, Green.
Dubbing: Natural Hare's Ear
Pheasant Tail
Peacock Herl
Orange Pheasant Tippets
Feathers: Wood Duck, Crow.
Flashabou: Pearl
Black 3mm Evasote Pre Sliced Foam
Gold Tinsel and Silver Tinsel both Flat
Deer Hair: Natural and Brown
Antron Yarn: Green and Brown.
Octopus Strap

Once you have obtained these materials you will be able to tie hundreds of fly patterns. This range of materials covers almost all of the patterns found on our Fly of the Week Pages and armed with this library of patterns you should be able to learn as you go. If you have any questions regarding fly tying don't hesitate to email me at antony@theflyshop.com.au and I will try to help you out. Good luck and strong threads to you all.



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