There are so many varieties of fly tying scissors available that choosing a pair can be confusing. We’ll attempt to explain the different styles and shed some light on picking out the right scissors for your needs. As you read this, keep in mind that choosing the right scissors has a lot to do with personal preference. Many styles have the same size blades, but there are some offerings that work a little better for certain situations.
All Purpose Scissors, as the name suggests, are designed for a range of cutting needs. Similar to Hair Scissors, they measure 4 inches long overall whereas Hair Scissors are 4 ½ inches long. This can make a difference, depending on the bulk or thickness of material you are cutting. Since All Purpose Scissors have the same blades as Hair Scissors, you can use them for deer hair and other natural materials if needed. However you want Hair Scissors to remain as sharp as possible, so it is a good idea to only use them for that purpose only and nothing else. That way they remain sharp and you get a smoother cut when cutting natural materials such as deer hair.
Arrow Scissors were originally designed for close up work. Their blades are often the same size as those of other styles but some now have a Micro Tip. These are the best for close up work and are narrower at the tip than the original Arrow style of scissors. These are especially useful when working on very small dry flies or nymphs. The original Arrow style can still be quite useful and the notch at the base of the blades is handy for cutting wire or lead.
Tungsten Carbide Scissors are made from extra hard steel which helps them stay sharper longer. They are available in the basic styles (All purpose, Hair or Arrow). Being more durable, they are considered better quality than other steel scissors and command a higher price.
Razor Scissors are a unique style that have a tension knob on the pivot point so you can adjust the tension of the blades. Many tiers really love this option and it can come in very handy. You might have noticed a pair of scissors that you use for a long period of time become loose and will not cut as well. If you have Razor Scissors, you can just tighten the scissors with the adjustment knob and quickly remedy this issue. These scissors also have extra sharp blades, often made from higher grade steel.
A choice of smooth or serrated blades is available, with serrated being most common. Basically serrated blades grab the material better than smooth, unless the smooth blades are extra sharp. You will see a difference if you test the two side by side. Grab some strands of material and make a straight cut with both. The smooth blades have a tendency to squeeze the material out toward the blade point while the serrated will keep it in place and make the cut. There are scissors available that have one blade serrated and the other smooth; one blade is usually enough to grab a hold of the material. We recommend you try both and see what works best for you.
There are a variety of handles or loop styles to suit your personal preference. You can choose from open loops which are adjustable in size, large loops, plated steel, painted handles, or rubber grip handles. All of these have to do with the feel they have in your hand. It’s a good idea to experiment and see what feels and works best for your hand and use.
We hope this brief article helps explain some of the various features available in fly tying scissors today. You can always find the right fly tying scissors for your needs @ J Stockard. Happy tying!