Fly Tying: A Basic Guide to Creating Your Own Flies

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Fly tying is a great way for fly fishers to create the flies they need to catch their chosen fish species.

Aside from being a practical way to stock up the fly box, fly tying is an absorbing hobby in its own right.

A few hours spent at the vise creating some flies leaves you in a relaxed frame of mind and well equipped for your next fishing trip.

Basic equipment for fly tying

There is no getting away from the fact you do need a few things to start out in fly tying. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank and you can even borrow some tying gear from a friend to see if you’ll enjoy it before committing to getting the right gear, which includes:

  • A fly tying vise (click here for our guide to the best fly tying vises)
  • Some basic materials (full rundown of the key materials needed click here or you can buy a good fly tying kit that will contain most of the essentials)
  • Tools such as bobbins, scissors, whip finish tools and more (see our comprehensive guide to fly tying tools)
  • Hooks (one of the most vital pieces of any fly – click here for our best hooks content)
  • A good fly tying desk

Fly tying patterns

There are tens of thousands of different fly patterns imitating anything from the tiniest midge to a large baitfish for saltwater fishing.

In general, fly patterns are divided into freshwater and saltwater patterns.

Some types of freshwater patterns are wet, dry and streamer fly patterns and the key insects tyers imitate are mayflies, caddis flies and midges, but can also include terrestrial insects such as ants, grasshoppers and cicadas.

Some types of saltwater fly pattern include baitfish patterns, crab patterns and shrimp patterns.

There are a range of ways to source patterns for good flies to tie: fly tying books, websites and YouTube are a good start. Click below for detailed instructions for some of our favorite flies to tie.

Flies By Species

We’ve written a lot about the best flies to use for particular species. Check below to access this content.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.