Tying flies is a lifelong activity. With the purchase of quality equipment, you’ll find that your fly-tying tools last your entire tying career. A bobbin is one of those tools that’s used on every single fly you tie, so it’s important that yours lasts. Bobbins hold your thread and ensure you have a smooth tying experience. The following 10 bobbins are built to last and greatly assist in helping you tie the best flies possible.
Best Fly Tying Bobbin: Quick Picks
The Smhaen Pro Bobbin Holder looks great, has an easily adjustable tension, and the ergonomic design is one of the most comfortable on the market. Its compact design and features get you right in on the action.
The Dr. Slick Ceramic Bobbin has been a favorite for fly-tyers for years. The ceramic tube prevents fraying and tearing, and the $15 price tag is perfect.
Fly Tying Bobbins: Full Reviews
The Renzetti Ruby Tip Bobbin not only looks great, but it also performs extremely well. The bobbin's defining feature is the red tip insert. The insert allows for more detail on your fly, and it also protects any of your threads from fraying. Even if you have to put some serious pressure on the thread, the red tip is there to protect it. Plus, it's built to resist wear and tear over the years. It's one of those bobbins that'll last you multiple generations. For $28, you're getting a high-quality bobbin and a bobbin threader that'll work for tyers of all skill levels.
- 2-inch long tube
- 3/32" diameter
People who have spent time tying flies understand the frustration of using a bobbin not designed by fly anglers. Active fly tyers designed the Griffin Ceramic Bobbin, and it works well for tyers of all skill levels. The ceramic tip helps tie flies at a more efficient rate. You won't get frayed thread and can give it that extra tension when necessary. Quality fly fishing gear is important for anglers; you can trust that Griffin makes some phenomenal gear. For around $20, you will have no issues with the Griffin Ceramic Bobbin.
- Super glide nylon beads
- Stainless steel with ceramic insert
- 1.5-inch long tube
The new titanium oxide bobbins from Dr. Slick have created an even smoother experience for fly tyers. The titanium inserts have an egg carton pattern on the insert, so you don't get that frustrating surface tension you would otherwise find. Whether you want a 3-inch, 4-inch, or 4.75-inch, the titanium oxide design is awesome. Plus, the bobbin is less than $20 and is covered by a lifetime warranty, so you can use it with peace of mind.
- Stainless steel & brass finish
- Delrin feet
- Titanium inserts
Dr. Slick's ceramic bobbin helped them make a name in the fly-tying world. This classic bobbin was the favorite of many anglers for years. Its ceramic insert doesn't fray or break your thread, and it's versatile. The 3-inch option is perfect for your smaller, more intricate patterns, the 4-inch choice is the versatile choice, and the 4.75-inch bobbin is built for your large flies. It's one of the best fly-tying tool on the market. You'll spend $15 and get a great tool and a lifetime warranty.
- Stainless steel & brass finish
- Dual Ceramic funnel insert
- Derlin Feet
Loon Outdoors makes phenomenal fly fishing accessories. Whether you want a fly-tying kit or floatant, they have what you need. The Loon Outdoors Ergo Bobbin is a quality all-purpose bobbin that's comfortable and designed well. The tension adjustment is easy, and the design ensures you won't break your fly-tying thread. If you want the ideal fly-tying tool, the Loon Ergo Bobbin is for you. It can tie all sorts of flies and only costs around $20.
- Yellow powder-coated handle
- Brass feet
- Double radius tube
If you're in the market for a larger bobbin to tie your streamers, the Stonfo Bobtec 2 Bobbin is the ideal choice. It's stainless steel and has a high-quality slider for easy tension control. The Bobtec 2 is built for larger and heavier threads, but it can handle some more delicate material. The tube has a stainless steel bush that prevents any thread from fraying or breaking, regardless of how much tension you put on it. You'll be spending around $25 for the bobbin, but it's worth the investment.
- Stainless steel
- Easy slider control
- Stainless steel bush
Smhaen makes one of the most unique bobbins on the market. The Smhaen Bobbin Holder Pro is a micro-adjustable bobbin built for ultimate control. They offer bobbins in two different sizes: regular and midge. Anglers looking to be up close and personal with their fly-tying process should consider purchasing the Smhaen Pro. It has its own unique patented tension system that allows you to adjust tension with one finger while you're tying your fly. You'll barely feel the bobbin in your hand as you're tying. It can handle different spool sizes. While it costs around $70, it's one of the best-designed and durable fly-tying bobbins on the market.
- Ceramic tube
- Ergonomic grips
- Weighs 18 grams
Some anglers are the no-frills type. If that's you, the Stonfo Regular Bobbin is the perfect option. It's not an automatic fly-tying bobbin with every advanced feature you can find. You get the basics and nothing more. It's built to prevent fraying and specially coated to prevent wear and tear. If you're a beginner who wants to try it for an affordable price or a pro looking for a vintage design, the Stonfo bobbin is perfect. You'll spend around $10 and have a bobbin that lasts for years.
- Machined-concave finger rest
- Brass beads
- Fray-preventing tube
The disc-drag bobbin from Stonfo is a unique Italian design that you won't find from many other companies. Instead of a tension control slider or twist design, you have a drag knob on the side. As you would on a fly reel, you'll twist the drag knob to set the tension you want. The red design and minimalistic look of the bobbin make it stand out amongst the traditional designs you commonly see. If you're the type who needs to fine-tune your designs, go with the Stonfo Disc Drag. It'll only cost you around $25.
- Stainless steel
- Tube with steel bush
- Adjustable for spool sizes
The Hareline Economy Bobbin is another no-frills design. Perhaps the most affordable bobbin on the list, it's one you'll find in most entry-level fly-ting kits. I learned to tie all different sorts of flies on my Hareline. I tied pheasant tail nymphs and other smaller flies as well as woolly buggers and chubby chernobyls. Be careful; it doesn't have a ceramic funnel or stainless bush that prevents fraying and breaking. You'll get some breaking and fraying if you aren't careful. It has nothing fancy, so I learned the feel of fly tying. Beginners do well with the Hareline. For only $5, you're getting a quality product that won't break.
- Stainless steel
- Brass beads
- 2-inch tube
Fly Tying Bobbin Buyers’ Guide:
What Features Are Essential on a Fly Tying Bobbin?
Two essential features of a fly-tying bobbin are the steel arms and low-friction bearings. The arms and bearings hold the spool and allow it to spin without resistance. If you have a low-quality bobbin, the bearings put tension on your thread and prevent you from tying it in the most efficient manner.
Other essential features include a barrel with fraying and breaking prevention. Some companies use ceramic funnels, and others use steel bush. Whatever it is, make sure the bobbin you purchase has something built in that won’t tear all of your thread. There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a thread that continually breaks and falls apart as you use it.
The final feature you need on your bobbin is a quality tension adjuster. Some companies use a slider, while others use a drag knob. The tension adjuster allows you to be more precise with your designs. The bobbins that use the steel arms as the tension adjustment can grow weaker over time.
The more precise you can be with your tension, the better your flies look. Some patterns are so small that you need an extreme amount of tension to keep everything in place. Larger patterns don’t need as much tension, so you can adjust it as you tie.
How Many Bobbins Do I Need to Have?
The number of bobbins you need to own depends on the type of flies you want to tie. If you tie nymphs, dries, and streamers, multiple bobbins aren’t a bad idea. A 3-inch bobbin works well for those small and precise patterns. A 4-inch bobbin is a more universal design that can do a little of everything.
Any bobbin over 5 inches should be used on bigger streamer patterns that require more thread.
Since bobbins are affordable tools, owning a few different ones isn’t a bad idea. If that’s not your style, I’ve seen many fly tyers use one bobbin for all different flies. If you’re skilled enough and willing to put in the time, you only need one.
How Do You Thread a Bobbin?
To thread a bobbin, you should use a bobbin threader. A bobbin threader is a long loop of wire attached to a few-inch-long handle. You’ll put the wire through the top of the bobbin barrel towards the thread spool.
Once it’s through the barrel, put the thread through the wire loop and pull the threader back through the barrel. It’s an easy process, and many bobbins you purchase come with a bobbin threader. Otherwise, you can find them on Trident Fly Fishing or any other fly fishing website.
How Do I Adjust the Tension on the Bobbin?
Depending on the type of bobbin you have, you’ll find a few different ways to adjust the tension.
The most affordable bobbins don’t have a special tension adjuster. You’ll adjust the tension by pushing or pulling on the steel arms that hold your thread spool. The tighter you push, the more tension you get, and vice versa.
Some companies use tension sliders or drag knobs. These bobbins are built to give you more control over the entire fly-tying process. The bobbins cost more than the steel arm tension adjusters, but you’ll find that they make your life easier.
How Important Are Materials: Steel vs. Ceramic vs. Glass
Materials matter for your fly-tying bobbins. A steel bobbin will last for years but may not be as delicate as you would like. The tip can cause your thread to fray or break. A ceramic tip of your bobbin prevents fraying or tearing of your thread. These cost a little more, but the quality of materials makes a difference. Glass bobbins are also high quality and allow you to use any sort of thread you want. They feel good and last you for years.