Basic Fly Tying Techniques For A Fly Tyer To Master


To tie flies well there are 7 basic techniques a fly tyer needs to learn. There are great clubs worldwide like the Fly Dressers Guild or many online videos to help you. The 7 basic essential techniques for a fly tyer are:

  1. Fixing the hook in the vice
  2. Attaching the tying thread
  3. Creating a Head
  4. Whip finishing
  5. Dubbing
  6. Winging Loop
  7. Forming A Collar Hackle

Fixing the hook in the vice

It is crucial that the hook is secure, we use vice in modern times to hold the hook tight. The best vice is a rotary type vice as the hook shank rotates along its access making it easier to tie the fly.

Attaching the tying thread

The tying tread binds materials to the hook and forms a solid base for materials to sit on as metal hooks are smooth and offer little grip. Normally you wind the thread onto the hook just before the eye and wind in close turns along the hook. Bobbin holders are used to keep the tension on the thread allowing freedom of the hands while adding and positioning materials along the hook.

Creating a Head

Heads on flies are added before whip finishing, another essential skill for fly tyers. Heads are created through multiple windings of thread which are then varnished or treated with a UV treatment like Bug Bond. Heads can be subtle or fluorescent to create a hit point for the fish to target. 3 coats of varnish create hard heads with a superb hard finish.

Whip finishing

This is important as when he fly is completed a whip finish ensures that the thread does not come lose and that all the materials are retained in position. Whip finishes can be done by hand or using a whip finisher.


Using dubbing loops, splitting threads or using a very thin coating of wax to get coarse furs or materials to adhere to the thread is used. Dudding is applied sparingly to create the body of the fly. Dubbing can be natural materials like hares ear, muskrat or seal or synthetic materials like Antron or Polypropylene. Always add fur in smaller amounts than necessary, t is easy to add more to a fly than remove an excess or dubing.

Winging Loop

It does not matter if a fur or feather is used for winging it is important the wing  sits vertical and allows the fly to move straight when pulled through the water. Wings twist often when tied in. Father wing slips will often spit. Use a winging loop to help alleviate these problems.

Forming A Collar Hackle

Collar hackles are often wound around flies like spiders. Cock hackles are used to create stiff collars on dry flies or soft fibred cock or preferably hen hackles are used for wet flies, spiders  and nymphs. Collar hackles are often suggestive of legs or wings.



James D. Green
05 March 2019  |  14:46

great information about dubbing

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