Fly tying is a next step in your fly fishing journey. Filling a fly box with flies you’ve tied and then catch fish on your creation is super satisfying.
Tying flies is not only just fun, but with the right tools, it can save you some cash in the future. But with the many options available, choosing the best fly tying tools can be pretty challenging. So, after thorough research, we compiled the following article on the best fly tying tools in the market.
Fly tying is an art, fortunately it’s easy to learn and will get the fly fisher more immersed in the sport. Learning some simple techniques with the right tools and materials can result in saving some money and learning more about what fish eat. Each fly has a recipe and an assembly sequence that uses specialized fly tying tools.
The fly tying techniques and types of flies have evolved over the last few decades. Fortunately, the materials and tools have made it a whole lot easier for a new tier to break into tying and instructions can be found all across the web including my YouTube Channel Guide Recommended.
A Recommended List of Fly Tying Tools
Starting out I recommend getting a fly tying kit. My recommendation is going to be just a little bit different from what others might say. I want you to get good materials (feathers, hooks and threads) before going crazy buying tools.
If you stick with fly tying you’ll end up upgrading your tools eventually. Scissors will dull, you decide to upgrade to a rotary air vise or you wear out a bobbin. When starting out if your materials suck you’ll just become frustrated. Feathers will break in the middle of the fly or the hooks bend easily.
My absolute favorite fly tying kit is Hareline Fly Tying Kit with Economy Tools. (link to Amazon where I got mine)
This kit contains materials, tools and an instruction booklet to tie 20 fly patterns. Hareline is a tying material company, they specialize in providing the best feathers, dubbing, hooks and fur to create effective flies that are easy to tie and perform as intended.
What’s Inside the Hareline Kit?
Don’t let what I said above make you think the tools are meh.. They’re not. The kit contains quality tools that work fine. The emphasis with this kit is on the materials which if they’re cheap like in most big brand kits is going to frustrate a beginner.
Tools contained in the kit:
- A decent table mount vise
- Bobbin with a ceramic tip
- Whip finish tool
- Combo bodkin/half hitch tool
- Hackle pliers, grip tiny feathers
- Fly tying scissors – these are sharp serrated scissors specifically used for fly tying
- Hair Stacker for aligning deer hair and others
Fly tying materials included:
The materials are what make this kit special. Hareline is a leader in fly tying materials owning with farms to raise chickens (Keough) and developing amazing varieties of dubbing and synthetics.
- 60 hooks for dries, nymphs and streamers
- 2 sizes of beads
- Loon head cement
- 7 spools of threads and floss – a great variety of colors
- 3 spools of tinsel and wires
- Feathers!!!! – the most common colors and styles of feathers – hackles, saddle, marabou, herls, primaries and tails
- Hair and fur – elk, deer, hare’s mask, rabbit strips for streamers and bucktail
- 6 bags of dubbing – for dries and nymphs
- 3 bags of chenille
- 1 bag of rubber legs
- Krystal flash, sparkle yarn and para post (for parachute flies)
Hareline Kit Pros
- Amazing high quality materials – industry best
- A combination of the right tools and materials to start out the new fly tier correctly
- Convenient carry box to travel with
- A progressive instruction booklet going from easy flies (San Juan Worm) to tougher dry flies
- I wish the kit had video instruction included. (I’ve got you covered with this playlist on YouTube – Fly Tying Playlist)
- I wish it had 2mm foam and lead wire
Every fly angler always reaches a point in their lives when they start thinking about tying their flies. In fact, for most anglers, this journey begins as soon as they purchase their first fly fishing rod.
Unfortunately, perfecting your tying skills is not easy, but it always beats using the store purchased flies. Handmade flies are better and can give you better results than ready-made options.
But for you to perfect this skill, you need the best fly tying tools. With the right fly tying tools, you can create a replica of the bugs thriving in the local streams. So instead of using just any dry flies, you can increase your probability of catching something with a perfect representation of the bugs the fish in that stream eat.
Guide Tip: It’s impossible to point to just one “kit” and say it’s the best. If you’re looking for the best my recommendation is to assembly a great set of tools and materials. Vise – Peak Rotary, Tools – Dr Slick and Materials – Hareline
If you’re looking for a rock solid fly tying system to start out with, you’ll need to piece together different brands and materials. What you’ll end up with is tools and materials that will last a lifetime (heck you should be able to pass the tools down to your kids)
So, let’s assemble the Best Fly Tying Setup:
The Best Vise
Two things, assuming your not going to be a commercial fly tyer and you want to stay under a couple hundred bucks. Look at the Peak Rotary – all around a great vise. The hook clamp is strong, with a smooth rotary action. The pedestal base is heavy so you can torque down on threads without it tipping.
The machining and finish is what you expect from something made in the USA. I bought mine on Amazon and really enjoy it. Check current prices and reviews with this link – Peak Rotary Fly Tying Vise. Below is a quick video overview I made.
Tools for Tying
Dr Slick has been in the fly tying tools niche since 1989. A surgeon knew that better scissors and tools were available for fly tiers – just no one knew where to get the stuff.
My recommended tool set comes with great scissors, hair stacker, bobbin, whip finish bodkin and threader. High quality essential tools-period! This set isn’t cheap, but you’ll enjoy tying with everything contained in the kit. The box also doubles and a fly box! Amazon link -> Dr Slick Tying Tools Gift Set
Check this video I did on YouTube – Dr Slick Tying Tools
Materials for Tying
A kit is the best starting point for materials. I’m not going to surprise you buy pointing to something different than an actually fly tying materials company. HARELINE
As you tie more flies you’ll start to understand what a good feather is, it wraps well, it doesn’t break and is more durable. Hooks that are sharp and don’t bend easily. Dubbing for dry flies that help float the fly and visa versa for nymphs. Tinsels and flash that set the industry standard.
A simple recommendation if your getting the tools and vise separately. Get the Hareline Materials Kit (link to Amazon) You’ll get everything listed above MINUS the tools.
More Options for Fly Tying Kits
Many know Orvis produces some of the best fishing gear in the market. So when I first heard about their Orvis fly tying kit, I was curious about trying it, and back then, I was still honing my fly tying skills. And despite being more costly than most of the competitor’s kits, it does offer some bonus features that can make the job easier for a beginner.
This product comes with an instructional DVD with helpful tutorials that made my learning phase easier. (source)
The instructional videos taught me how to tie flies correctly, and within no time, I was able to tie the 16 patterns by Orvis. Other than the instructional DVD, the other thing I love about this product is the quality of the fly tying tools.
These tools are exceptional for beginners, but I had to upgrade some tools like the bobbins and scissors with time. Don’t get me wrong, the Orvis scissors and bobbins are better than other brands’ tools.
Check the current prices with this link to Amazon – Orvis Fly Tying Kit (read the reviews for more insight)
This kit has everything a beginner needs, but the price tag may be too high for beginners. But, I have recommended this to some of my pals. Some of the tools included in this set are the whip finish tool, bodkin, ceramic lined bobbin, and hackle pliers. (source)
Guide Recommended: I’ve got a free download that explains the materials used to tie flies. Get it with this link -> All About Fly Tying Materials
- It comes with a reliable instructional DVD produced by the best fly tying videographer in the market.
- It has everything a beginner will need to perfect
- It features high-quality tools
- It is quite costly
Despite being one of their latest releases, this kit is an exceptional addition to the fly fishing sector. This Loon kit is outstanding since it’s one of the few tools I have ever used that feature only high-quality tools.
In fact, my wife purchased this kit last year, and she has never looked back. And after testing the equipment myself, I concluded that we would never have to upgrade any of its tools.
Unfortunately, this kit doesn’t come with a vise,
so I always let my wife use my vise. It may not seem ideal for beginners, but it can be advantageous to some extent. It means that you can get a separate high-quality vise of your choice and have fun. But since cash was an issue when I was looking for an exceptional gift for her, I settled for this kit. (source)
After all, it is a high-quality option, and I know that it will serve my family for a very long time. This kit comes with a whip finisher, bodkin, all-purpose bobbin, all-purpose scissors, and a hackle plier.
Guide Tip: One of the things that mystified me when I started tying was the hooks. The numbers, gage, length and dry or wet….Read more about fly tying Hooks in this article – Understanding Fly Tying Hooks (Size Charts and PDF)
- It comes with high-quality tools
- It is affordable
- It is easy to use
- It doesn’t come with a vise
Another fly tying kit that has always stood out for me is the Colorado Anglers Z797. It is the first tool that my granddad used to teach me how to fly tying. Back in 2005, I would always joke that granddad was just being cheap and didn’t want to purchase the dry flies from the store. But as I have grown older and started my own family, I have come to understand the need for perfecting this skill.
The Colorado Anglers Z797 was the first kit I used when learning how to tie flies. And with the tender touch of my granddad, I perfected the skill with time.
And despite being a budget tool with everything needed for tying flies, this kit is loved by beginners and experienced anglers. My granddad uses his kit to date, and he has never upgraded any of its tools. Even though anyone can use this kit, it is exceptional for beginners.
Its unique wooden casing is exceptional and easy to carry, so you will never have to worry about getting damaged or getting lost. This unit is very light and compact, making it the best option for camping and fishing trips. In fact, I used to carry it when going on fishing trips all over the United States.
- It is affordable
- It is ideal for both beginners and pros
- It comes with all the essential tools
- It comes with a wooden case that makes it convenient for transporting from one lake to the next
- It has no instructional manual
Earth magnets can come in handy when you drop a fly or hook on the carpet and can’t locate it using your naked eyes. Hooks can be very dangerous, so you can look for them using a magnetic pick-up tool instead of just dismissing them. (source)
Magnetic dishes are handy, and they can help you keep your table organized while ensuring that you never misplace anything. (source)
You must finish your fly with a nice coat of cement. But at times, the cement gets into the hook’s eye hole and blocks it. So to clean it up, you can insert a piece of waste feather in the hook’s eye hole and soak in the excess cement. (source)
Typically, the brush is usually too thick when new, and you may end up applying too much glue on the fly. So before using the brush, you can shape its tip utilizing a pair of scissors to create a thin pointed brush that works perfectly. (source)
The answer to this question depends on your skill level, tools, and type of fly you’re making. Some patterns are pretty complicated and may require more time to tie than others. But most anglers have confirmed that they can tie between nine and twelve flies per hour.
For beginners, you need to start with simple tools, materials, and patterns. But your fly tying arsenal must include a whip finishing tool, hooks, beads, coneheads, scissors, bobbin thread, and vise, among other things.
There are many threads in the fly tying market, but Kevlar, polyester, and nylon are the most common ones. Dry flies are There are silk threads also, but they can be pretty costly. But if you’re working with a tight budget, you should go for polyester or nylon threads, which are strong and thin.
With the right tools, any angler can average about 3 minutes a fly. Some flies might take longer, but an elk hair caddis takes me less than 3. A griffith’s gnat is under 2 minutes, but a tough dry fly is around 4 minutes.
There is nothing more relaxing and fun than tying flies; in fact, anyone who has ever done it can tell you it is therapeutic. It can help you forget about your busy day, focus, and save some cash in the end. But before you get into this unique hobby, make sure you have the right tools.
- Wikipedia contributor, Fly tying, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_tying/ Accessed December 15, 2021
- Amazon contributors, Orvis 2BT10000 Fly Tying Kit, https://www.amazon.com/Orvis-2BT10000-Fly-tying-Kit/dp/B016R98POK/ Accessed December 15, 2021
- Amazon contributors, Loon Outdoors Core Fly Tying Kit, https://www.amazon.com/Loon-Outdoors-Core-Fly-Tying/dp/B07ZTSMSHT/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Loon+Fly+Tying+Tool+Kit&qid=1639586411&sr=8-4/ Accessed December 15, 2021
- Amazon contributors, Colorado Anglers Z797 Standard Tool Kit, https://www.amazon.com/Colorado-Anglers-Z797-Standard-Tool/dp/B002QFWBDQ/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=fly+tying+tools&qid=1639589665&sr=8-6/ Accessed December 15, 2021
- YouTube contributor, Fly Tying Tips for All, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqj-Ledi8go&t=276s/ Accessed December 15, 2021
- YouTube contributor, 10 Fly Tying Hacks and Tips for Fly Tyers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6pzicNbI68&t=431s/ Accessed December 15, 2021