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Beginner's Guide to Fly Tying
Beginner's Guide to Fly Tying

Start with a Good Vise

The vise is the most important tool in fly tying. A vise that firmly holds the hook without wobbling around is a necessity not a luxury. Otherwise the frustration caused by the shortcomings of a cheapy vise will quickly turn you off to fly tying.

So if this is something you want to dive into, just start with a decent vise. The Renzetti Traveler 2000 is the perfect vise to learn on. It’s stable, it holds a wide range of hook sizes well, and it has full rotary functionality. It’s also a vise that will stay with you as your skills grow.

We’ve seen it a million times – a new tyer upgrading from a cheaper vise to the Traveler 2000. We’ve also noticed – it’s a lot less frequent that an experienced tyer upgrades from the Traveler 2000 to a higher end vise. It’s a vise that many great tyers use throughout their tying careers, and at $179.99 it’s more affordable than many other great vises on the market.

Renzetti Traveler 2000

Get Your Core Tools

In addition to the vise there are two tools you’ll use for every single fly. These are a bobbin, and scissors. There are many other tools available that do a specific job such as a dubbing loop spinner. As well as tools that just make things easier such as a bobbin threader.

To get started we recommend you have the two essentials, as well as a bodkin (a thin needle-like pick that is often used for sticking on eyes and picking out trapped fibers).

To finish your fly a whip finisher is a helpful tool to have, or you can learn how to whip finish with your fingers.

The Loon Core Tool Kit covers the basis. If you’d prefer to get your tools a la carte we recommend starting with the Loon Ergo Bobbin, Loon Ergo All Purpose Scissors, and Loon Ergo Bodkin.

Fly Tying Tools
  • Features

    • Ergo grips are extremely comfortable and ergonomic.
    • Featuring the generation 2 tools.
    • The core tools you need to start tying,
    • Convenient carrying case.
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  •   Features

    • Enlarged ergonomic finger/thumb holes
    • Hand-tuned in the USA
    • 4″ long
    • Extra sharp, surgical quality stainless steel
    • Excellent all-around scissors
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  •   Features

    • Ergonomic thumb/finger grip system on barrel
    • Japanese spring steel needle
    • Powder coated handle
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  •   Features

    • Ergonomic shape
    • Strong Japanese steel needle
    • Powder coated handle
    • 4.5″ long
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Pick a Pattern

Start by getting the materials for a single pattern. As opposed to overwhelming yourself with a bunch of materials and no plan.

The pattern should be an easy one that allows you to really focus on the fundamentals of thread and material control. (My first fly was a Glades Minnow, with no head, just two bundles of Craft Fur and two strands of Krystal Flash, it caught a lot of bass.)

Once you have a good feel for thread control and capturing materials with your wraps, you’re ready to move onto new patterns with new techniques. We’re big believers in customization in fly tying. Creating flies that use different materials, or are designed differently than the recipes and designs for the original patterns in order to make the fly more effective for your specific fishery. When necessary of course. The more techniques you know, from stacking hair to dubbing loops, the easier it is to let your creativity run wild. The best way to get to that point is to tie a bunch of different flies.

So we recommend starting with the Brushy Baitfish. This is an easy and pleasurable fly to tie. It’ll give you a firm grasp on how to start your thread, how to capture and palmer a material, and how to control both the bulk of your thread wraps and density of the material.

It’s also an extremely versatile fly that works great for everything that eats little baitfish including snook, tarpon, redfish, largemouth bass, peacock bass, and trout.

Customize this fly by mixing and matching EP Craft Fur Brush and EP Minnow Head Brush colors. We recommend going light (chartreuses, yellows, grays and whites), going dark (blacks and purples), and going with the rusty backcountry version in the tutorial.

Brushy Baitfish Materials List (Olive/Everglades Tutorial Variation) – See Video Tutorial

Capt. Jason Sullivan’s Gambusia Variation

Dark Knight Variation

How to Tie Brushy Baitfish
Brushy Baitfish Variations
Capt. Jason Sullivan's Gambusia, Dark Knight, Olive/Everglades
  • Features

    • Three dimensional half dome eye
    • Standard eyes for baitfish patterns
    • 50 eyes per pack except 3/8″ (40 per pk) & 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 3/4″ (30 per pk)
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  •   Features

    • Six 10″ brushes in each package
    • 3″ wide
    • Mix of EP Fibers and Extra Select Craft Fur
    • Makes great baitfish bodies and collars
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  •   Features

    • Six 10″ brushes in each package
    • 1.5″ Wide
    • Stainless steel wire core
    • EP Fibers mixed with EP Sparkle Flash and UV Flash
    • Pushes lots of water once wrapped and trimmed
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  •   Features

    • Stinger 1x Strong
    • Black in color
    • Straight eye
    • Great for Bass flies and saltwater streamers
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  •   Features

    • Best glues for securing eyes on baitfish patterns
    • Squeeze conteroled
    • .14 oz (4g)
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  • Features

    • Great all purpose thread for saltwater and warmwater patterns
    • Breaking strength of approx. 3lbs
    • Comes with a thread retention button
    • 100yd per spool
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