Best Fly Tying Kit: 7 2024 Starter Sets Reviewed

Few experiences are as exhilarating as catching a fish on a fly rod. If you fly fish, you know the thrill, but one thing that takes the exuberance level even …

Few experiences are as exhilarating as catching a fish on a fly rod. If you fly fish, you know the thrill, but one thing that takes the exuberance level even greater is catching that fish on a fly THAT YOU TIED!

Tying your own flies provides anglers with a deeper connection to their sport. Creating a fly pattern to which fish respond increases the feeling of accomplishment while on the water. Fly tying also teaches you about the anatomy of the insect or baitfish you are replicating, providing keen awareness of your target species.

You might even identify subtle characteristics of your local hatch that you can incorporate into the flies you make, increasing your success. Finally, flies can be downright expensive when purchased at retail. By learning to tie your own flies – even just a few staples that you are confident in – you can save a lot of money that you could spend elsewhere. 

If you’re eager to get twisting up some flies, we’ve put together a list of the best fly tying kits for you or your favorite fly fisher to start.

Detailed Beginner Fly Tying Kits Reviewed:

Orvis Encounter Fly Tying Kit
Orvis Encounter Fly Tying Kit
Orvis Encounter Fly Tying Kit
Our Score

When it comes to learning anything about fly fishing, my first stop in a search is always Orvis. For decades Orvis has been a leader in fly fishing gear and information. The Orvis Fly Tying Kit supports my belief. This beginner fly tying kit provides you with quality tools and supplies and expert instruction on a DVD. While I don't know who still has a DVD player, I'm confident Orvis will set you up for success.

  • Teaches eight basic patterns, including a wooly bugger, pheasant tail nymph, and elk hair caddis
  • Instruction DVD by renowned fly tier, Tim Flager
  • Orvis' 100% satisfaction guarantee

 

Orvis Premium Fly Tying Kit
Orvis Premium Fly Tying Kit
Orvis Premium Fly Tying Kit
Our Score

Are you the type that dives head-on into new challenges? This Premium Orvis Fly Tying Kit is a deluxe fly tying kit and a step up from their Encounter, offering double the patterns to hone, double the hooks to twist up, and a bunch more tying materials. It's also more than double the price. Still, this would get you going or be a great gift for anyone looking to get into tying.

  • Handy carrying case for storage and portability
  • Hair stacker for Elk Hair Caddis and poppers is not something you see in tying kits usually.
  • Expanded DVD (though I think I'd instead use YouTube)

 

Creative Angler Fly Tying Kit
Creative Angler Fly Tying Kit
Creative Angler Fly Tying Kit
Our Score

This Creative Angler fly tying kit starts with a c-clamp vise and offers tools and materials to teach you to tie basic patterns. The tying kit comes with a DVD, and an instruction book accompanies it. The plastic case is excellent if you don't have a dedicated fly tying bench. Billed as one of the best tying kits on the market, the Creative Angler fly tying kit is a solid choice but would be better with a pedestal vise.

  • Instruction booklet with instructions on tying four classic flies
  • Portable case
  • Hook sizes in 8, 12, and 14

 

Colorado Anglers Fly Tying Kit
Colorado Anglers Fly Tying Kit
Colorado Anglers Fly Tying Kit
Our Score

The Colorado Anglers tying kit is the same kit as the popular fly tying kit from Creative Angler, with one noticeable difference: the wood case that acts as a pedestal. The wood box is not as sturdy as other pedestals, but I like the freedom to move the vise to where I'm comfortable. Additionally, the wood case has style, and since it's not a c-clamp, my wife won't worry about me scratching the edge of the kitchen table.

  • Instruction booklet with instructions on tying four classic flies
  • Wooden case
  • Hook sizes in 8, 12, and 14

 

Cabelas Fly Tying Kit
Cabelas Fly Tying Kit
Cabelas Fly Tying Kit
Our Score

What's the best way to learn a new skill? Trial and error. And with Cabelas' Fly Tying Kit, nothing is better than an extra bundle of tying materials. Are you going to tie some flies that look like your dog chewed on them and spit them out? Initially, yeah. The more you practice, though, the more you'll improve. So, grab this vise with the tying materials. The bonus is that you're not relegated to tying the flies from a kit's instructional book. You're free to make whatever you want!

While the extra fly tying materials are great, don't let them overshadow the tying kit with some genuinely unique options the other tying kits on this list don't. First, no need to choose between a pedestal or c-clamp mount – you have both as an option. And second, the two sizes of hackle pliers which will come in handy with the extended materials you have. 

  • Expanded number of hooks for tying the exact size you need.
  • Pedestal and C-clamp option
  • Large and small hackle pliers

 

Wapsi Fly Tying Starter Kit
Wapsi Fly Tying Starter Kit
Wapsi Fly Tying Starter Kit
Our Score

Wapsi is a tying material company, so it is in their interest to get folks into fly tying. Their tying kit is a comprehensive set with a c-clamp vise and standard tying tools. What I like about the tying kit is that its recipes include some fly patterns that the other beginner fly tying kits don't. For example, the stretch scud, foam beetle, and brassie are all effective flies that are easy to learn to make. 

  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Quality materials from Wapsi
  • Ten hot fly patterns

 

Wild Water Fly Fishing Fly Tying Tools Kit
Wild Water Fly Fishing Fly Tying Tools Kit
Wild Water Fly Fishing Fly Tying Tools Kit
Our Score

Wild Water is a fly fishing company that focuses many of its products on beginners, but their product line is also mostly combos and kits. Their fly rods come with everything to start fishing, so the Fly Tying Kit also comes with everything you need to begin tying, except for tying materials. What this kit misses with tying materials, they make up for with two unique features. The first is the stylish case that makes this starter kit an appealing travel tool kit, and the second is the rotary vise, which allows you to make wraps with the vise instead of the bobbin.

  • Booklet-style Nylon Storage Case
  • Rotary Vise
  • Multiple half hitch tools

Essential Fly Tying Tools

Fly tying kit
Some essential fly tying tools in a fly tying kit include a fly tying vise, bobbin holder, scissors, bodkin, hackle pliers and whip finisher.

Vise

The vise allows you to work independently of the secured hook with your hands and other tying tools. Vises come as either pedestal-mounted or c-clamp versions, which can be attached to a table. While often more expensive, the pedestal vise can be placed anywhere on a surface, as opposed to the c-clamp which is relegated to the edge – sometimes awkwardly. Both can be disassembled for storage or mobility. When comparing fly tying vises, consider the size needed for the flies you plan to tie.

Bobbin Holder

A bobbin holder allows for the controlled dispersal of spooled thread. Often the first step of a fly pattern recipe is securing the thread onto the hook and then providing a base layer of thread to the hook shank. This is done with a series of wraps just behind the eye of the hook back the hook bend. A bobbin holder allows you to let go of the thread without the material unspooling.

Scissors

Precisely cutting materials is crucial to tying many fly patterns. Tying scissors come in various shapes and sizes depending on their need, but all need to be razor sharp. Unlike the scissors you’ve had in your junk drawer for years, expect to replace or sharpen tying scissors regularly as they dull. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to cut with a pair of weak scissors.

Fly tying kit 1
As you pick up new skills and tie more complex patterns, your toolkit will definitely grow over time.

Bodkin

A bodkin is a handy, multi-purpose tool that can help apply head cement, tease out fibers from a wrapped body, or puncture the eye of a hook that gets gooped up. Many versions also have a brass hand finish tool. You never know when you’ll need a bodkin when tying.

Hackle Pliers

Itty bitty hackle fibers are tough to hold onto with fingers. Hackle pliers keep them secure and in place while you wrap and tie them off. Have a solid set of hackle pliers if you plan to tie many dry flies. Hackle pliers come is a variety of size, make sure the size you choose fits the size of hackle you use.

Whip Finisher

Do you ever wonder how a fly doesn’t just unravel? The answer? A whip finish. A whip finish tool is a super slick way to fish your fly so that the wraps of materials remain in place. We’ve all had a killer day on the water with a fly that takes a pounding but remains largely intact. You can thank an effect whip finish (and a little head cement) for that.

Buying Starter Kits vs. Assembling Items Individually

Fly tying kit
Despite the abundance of excellent starter kits, you risk spending money on supplies and equipment you might never use.

Buying a fly tying kit is the quickest route to tying up effective flies that will catch fish. But are tying kits better than assembling your own set of tying tools? 

Most tying kits are geared towards the new fly tier. That’s why so many come with instructions on basic fly tying techniques. They also come with tying tools that are meant for learning. Once your skills advance, you’ll want to upgrade. The Renzetti Traveler and the Peak Rotary are some of the best fly tying vises. These vises come with sturdy pedestals and some nice upgrades. A Dr. Slick’s Whip Finish tool, a ceramic bobbin holder, high-quality hackle pliers, and other upgrades you might want if your kit doesn’t include one. 

I struggled to learn how to whip finish my own flies because the tool included in my original fly tying kit was not intuitive. The rotation of the Dr. Slick allowed me to master the whip finish, and now it is a breeze. Unfortunately, the beginner bobbin holder was tough to use and didn’t allow for the smooth release of thread to wrap around the hook shank. Be sure to invest in a solid ceramic bobbin. You’ll thank me.

In addition to complete tying kits, you can purchase upgraded tool kits without a vise. If you’re looking to get into tying but aren’t sold on all the tools or the vise, a great middle-ground is buying a quality vise and a separate tool kit. Look to manufacturers like Loon for quality tools.

There’s nothing quite like catching fish on your own flies. Any tying kits covered here will get you on the path to experiencing this unique aspect of fly fishing. Along the way, you’ll better understand what fish eat and save a little money in the process. Who knows, you might even develop the next hot fly!

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AUTHOR
Andy is a Colorado kid and lifelong angler. From bluegills in area ponds to high alpine lakes of the Rocky Mountains, he's fished it all. Andy enjoys helping other anglers catch more fish and sharing his passion for the sport.
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