Tag Archives: fly tying tips

Bend A Knee

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

As the years have gone by, my fly-tying hands have become slightly less steady, and I don’t see my never-spill-my-coffee days coming back. I think a lot of us can sing a similar song. I can still tie #20 flies if the shanks are 2x or longer and I can still thread a 7x tippet into them, but some tying tasks are an exercise in frustration and in the letting loose of words my family may never have heard. One of these tying tasks is the creation of the grasshopper leg.

Oh, it’s easy, all the videos will tell you–just peel a couple of long barbs off a pheasant tail feather and tie a knot in them. Done! The problem is that those barbs enjoy being straight. They’ll cling faithfully to each other…until on some secret signal they suddenly fan out and point to the four winds. They spring themselves out of any granny knot that isn’t fully cinched down. And if you’re wise to those tricks, they will always–always, it seems–choose to sacrifice themselves by breaking, rather than let you succeed. I’ve tried just about every way I could think of, and a lot of different little tools and bits of hooked wire and microelectronics clips and what-have-you, to no avail. I’ve worked for 40 minutes trying to get a single pair of hopper legs, only to end up with none. more…

10 Things No One Will Tell You When You Start Tying Flies

Guest Blogger: John Satkowski, Toledo, OH, fly tying demonstrator and instructor, you can find him @ River Raisin Fly Company on Facebook

1. Everyone you talk to about tying is an expert and you should do things the way they tell you. Now granted, there are some people you should listen to. The hot guys in the tying game now like Mike Schmidt, Greg Senyo, Blane Chocklett, and Charlie Craven are people you should be listening to. They will give you good advice that a beginner to seasoned tyer can use to increase their skill. Uncle Bob’s buddy who tied a handful of flies in 1976 is not always an accurate point of view for you to learn from. Over the years, I have heard my fair share of questions such as,”Why don’t you do it this way” or “Why don’t you use this material?” Sometimes sharing ideas is good and gives you a fresh point of view but you should take suggestions with a grain of salt.
2. You always have to use the newest and coolest materials in your flies. There have been a huge surge of really awesome materials that have come out in the past five years alone. Lots of new lighter synthetic materials that don’t hold water and make casting much easier, new adhesive and UV resins, and a lot of body materials that just keep getting more realistic all can make tying much faster and easier. Ripple Ice Fiber and the Loon Outdoors D-Loop tweezers are among my personal favorite things to use since they came out. Every tyer has their favorite materials and this is usually evident by looking at a large sample of their flies. My flies usually incorporate some barred marabou, ripple ice fiber, angora goat, and the long cut fiber ice dub. Many different patterns can be constructed using different variations of the same materials. Use the materials that you are comfortable with and have had success with in the past. You can always try some new materials and see which ones you like to work with and work for you.


Product Review: Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin

Guest Blogger: Jeremy Anderson is an amateur fly tyer and professional Creative Director at an advertising agency in Nashville, Tennessee. He lives with his wife and two boys in a log cabin by the Harpeth River. You can find Jeremy @hacklejob

Achieving perfect thread tension can be a Zen-like moment when all is balanced in your fly-tying world. Ok, maybe not, but the alternative is pretty darn frustrating. Too much tension, and you break off or cut through your materials. Too little and you unravel. J. Stockard blogger and lifelong angler Mary S. Kuss has written a very helpful post on thread control that every tyer should read. But I’d like to add one more suggestion that has helped me: invest in a great bobbin. My personal favorite is the Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin, and here’s why.

I have tied dozens of flies using the original (red) model, tying everything from size 24 midges with 14/0 thread to size 1/0 deer hair poppers using 200 GSP, and the ability to dial in the perfect amount of tension mid-fly by simply turning the drag knob instead of taking out the spool and bending the arms is very helpful. The feel of the bobbin is top notch and it has a nice amount of weight to it to keep your thread wraps in place while hanging as you reach for your next material.

Are there any cons? Yes, but they are miniscule. First, it takes a little more time to change spools than a standard wire bobbin. Second, the numbers on the drag dial are pretty meaningless since spools can be ever so slightly different, so it’s better just to adjust it by feel.

Bottom line: the Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin has saved me some frustration and more than a few choice words when things go wrong at the vise. It’s worth trying it out to see if it’s as much of a game-changer for you.

In my office, we have a rule: if you swear, you pay the kitty. You can avoid this with a disc drag bobbin.