For nearly two thousand years, fly fishing has been an enticing pastime activity for occasional anglers. If you’ve never tried it before you should know that fly fishing is the most enjoyable form of fishing there is. It requires patience, thorough scouting, and hard work but the joy of landing a fish is so satisfying that you will make light of all the strenuous effort you have put in once you play and hook your prey.
Fly fishing is a craft that can only be perfected by honing your fly tying skills. So today, we will show you how to use fly tying tools and make the most out of your fly fishing trips.
First, let’s address this common question-Do I have to tie my own flies? Well, necessarily not. You can always walk into a bait shop and buy the flies you want. But tying gives you a handful of advantages. The materials you’ll need to make your flies won’t cost you a ton so you’d be saving money if you resort to self-tying. You also get to run your wheels of imagination to custom design a bug besides mimicking real-life insects. And the best part is, the “stock-out” sign outside your local fly shop will have no impact on your fishing plans whatsoever. You can cook up some flies in your workshop and pack the fishing rods whenever you wish.
BASIC FLY TYING TOOLS
Here, we will talk about some tools that you need to get your fly tying adventure going. Do keep in mind that there are a lot of different fly tying tools out there. We will only be discussing the basic ones to get you started.
In my opinion, the vise is the most important fly tying tool, and it’s an absolute necessity to have one at your possession. If you don’t have a vise that holds the hook tight while tying, you are going to have a hard time keeping the hook stable while you’re tying flies. Just attach the bent end of your hook to the vise and close the clamp. It should remain firm and steady as long as the clamp remains closed. Using a vise frees up both of your hands and minimizes the risk of hook injuries to a minimum.
The next fly tying tool we will be talking about is the bobbin. A bobbin is basically the tool that secures the spool of thread while you are wrapping the yarn or silk around the hook shaft. Mount the reel on the bobbin and insert a thread line to the tube located at the bottom end of the bobbin. Then, you need to pull out the thread through the other end of the tube and start winding it around the hook. You will be using this tool quite frequently so having a good bobbin is essential.
3. HACKLE PLIERS
Hackle pliers are small clasps that are used to grab feathers and other materials or to have them dangling from the hook as you continue to rib the fly. You would want the hackle plier jaws to be smooth so that they don’t cut into the materials and damage them.
A bodkin needle serves lots of different purposes. You can think of it as the Swiss Army knife of fly fishing. If you want to learn how to use fly tying tools, you must also grasp the ropes of bodkin needles. The most common uses of these needles are to remove trapped fibers, adjust unnatural lumps, to clear off debris from the hook and apply head cement.
5. HAIR STACKER
A hair stacker is a two-part device that is used to level the tip of the animal hair used to tie a fly. If you have a closer look at the hide you are plucking the hair from (which could be deer, elk or any other animal) the hair fibers are not really even. At first glance, you won’t be able to tell the difference, but when you look at the fibers individually, you will spot the asymmetry. Hair stackers allow you to get rid of the stray hair and straighten out the remainder of the hair. Snip off a section of hair from the hide and clear off the bits and ends with a brush. You can also flick them out with your finger before getting them into the stacker. Then just swirl it inside your stacker, tap a few times, take off the upper part of the stacker and pull them out. The hair strands should be nicely lined up and ready for use.
A good pair of scissors is another must-have item in our fly tying toolbox. They come in different shapes and sizes and offer a variety of features. Some of them have micro serrations on their blades, some are curved, and some have micro tip razor blades-all having their individual sets of convenience and application. Frequent fly tiers would often need to use multiple types of scissors for their work.
7. WHIP FINISHER
Administering a whip-finish is the final step of tying an artificial fly. You can pull off a whip-finish using your bare hands but if you can do it in a much easier way by using a specialized whip finisher tool. There are structural differences between various models, but all whip finishers work in an identical principle. They have a hook in the front end, and a bent metallic extension lowers down. To execute a whip finish, place the hook of the tool on the thread dangling from the shaft of the fly hook. Then, spiral the yarn around the sprung arm of the whip finisher.
Bring up the tying thread so that it becomes parallel to the fly hook shaft. Rotate the tool above and below the shank; this would complete a single turn of the whip finish. Repeat this process four/five more times and increase the loop while doing so. To finish off, slip the thread of the whip finisher arm and pull the end of the thread to seal the loop. Tighten the thread, cut the loose end and you are done.