Fly tying brings fishing all together

January 22, 2006|By Bill Anderson

Over past few weeks, I have received several e-mails asking for the best ways of learning how to tie flies.

It's worth noting up front that any of the following hints could also apply to making jigs. Jigs are maybe the best overall lure for just about any gamefish.

Fly tying is a great wintertime activity. The craft of fly tying comes in many levels of skill. I'm proof-positive that you can make fish-catching flies with little or no artistic ability.

But I will also warn you that the old story of just wanting to save money probably won't hold much water. Like most fly tiers, I have materials -- like fur and feathers - to make dozens, probably even thousands of flies.


Come to think if it, the process of acquiring all of this neat stuff is nearly as much fun as making the flies and jigs. This is the result of many years of acquiring materials from many sources.

The basics of fly tying are relatively easy to learn. Once you learn the basics, you may or may not make the decision to move on to the more complicated patterns. The first issue is to get a good grasp of the basics, and these days, there are a number of options for getting started.

Getting Started

The very best situation is to have a friend who is a tier that can give you some individual attention to help you get started. That's what we had to do in the old days, and it is still the best. When I got started, I was lucky to have friends with abilities that ranged from tiny flies for spring creek trout to the biggest saltwater flies.

Another great approach is to sign up for one of the many fly-tying classes. Classes are offered at many fly shops in the winter months. Classes offer the advantage of a structured approach that will cover the basic skills you need. Another advantage of a class is that you sometimes get a basic set of tools and materials as part of the class price.

Another excellent approach to learning is to utilize one of the many excellent books, videos or DVDs available. The number of titles available now is amazing and many of them are very good. I find the DVDs are particularly good because allow you to go to the exact place for the fly or technique you are working on. I use them and I have been tying for several decades now.

Fly tying and jig tying is a great compliment to the sport of fishing. But be forewarned; if you get involved this hobby can lead to a basement full of feathers, furs and related clutter. Some spouses are more understanding than others on this issue.

Bill Anderson may be contacted via email at

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