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FQ13

New to fly tying

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I posted in the survival central, but I thought I'd park the post here. I was looking at Cabelas last night (always dangerous) and they had their delux fly tying kit with a wooden box, all the tools and a vice on sale for $29. So I figured how bad can it be? I reckon this will let me tie streamers, clousers, and make my own buck tail jigs, which should save money. The question is, where do I go for materials? The big boxes don't have what you want unless you order a materials kit which has a lot of stuff I don't need. And sadly our two local fly shops died (thank you Gander Mountain). I know that's hypocritical as I just bought from a big box, but I had no choice. Anyway, if any of you tie flies or make jigs and can hook me up with a source for materials I'd be grateful. All I need is some marabou, peacock hearl and fishair, with a box of long shanked #6 hooks and I'm golden..

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I posted in the survival central, but I thought I'd park the post here. I was looking at Cabelas last night (always dangerous) and they had their delux fly tying kit with a wooden box, all the tools and a vice on sale for $29. So I figured how bad can it be? I reckon this will let me tie streamers, clousers, and make my own buck tail jigs, which should save money. The question is, where do I go for materials? The big boxes don't have what you want unless you order a materials kit which has a lot of stuff I don't need. And sadly our two local fly shops died (thank you Gander Mountain). I know that's hypocritical as I just bought from a big box, but I had no choice. Anyway, if any of you tie flies or make jigs and can hook me up with a source for materials I'd be grateful. All I need is some marabou, peacock hearl and fishair, with a box of long shanked #6 hooks and I'm golden..

PS, does anyone know the difference between various brands of hooks? Because the price seems to vary wildly.

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I've been using Mustad hooks for my flies for over 30 yrs. Never a problem. Can't say the same for other brands I've tried.

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I posted in the survival central, but I thought I'd park the post here. I was looking at Cabelas last night (always dangerous) and they had their delux fly tying kit with a wooden box, all the tools and a vice on sale for $29. So I figured how bad can it be? I reckon this will let me tie streamers, clousers, and make my own buck tail jigs, which should save money. The question is, where do I go for materials? The big boxes don't have what you want unless you order a materials kit which has a lot of stuff I don't need. And sadly our two local fly shops died (thank you Gander Mountain). I know that's hypocritical as I just bought from a big box, but I had no choice. Anyway, if any of you tie flies or make jigs and can hook me up with a source for materials I'd be grateful. All I need is some marabou, peacock hearl and fishair, with a box of long shanked #6 hooks and I'm golden..

 

Since you don't have a good fly shop locally - source your materials through the net. J Stockard is a good place to start, also though, look at Mudhole, Jan's Netcraft (the biggest lure making website out there, IIRC) - occasionally Cabela's has a good sale on stuff.

 

If you happen to travel for work or pleasure and run across a fly shop - stop in and see what they've got.

 

I rarely buy flies anymore - haven't for a long time, except to buy a pattern I don't know how to tie, or don't have the materials for. That's pretty rare. I make all my own flies - from tiny midges and chironomids to big foam poppers and sliders for bass.

 

Be warned - you *won't* save a penny tying your own flies - I've easily got probably about a thousand bucks worth of fur and feathers in my tying kit - and that tying kit fits in a large plastic drawer and the tools are housed in one of the big, deep plano tackle organizers. But once you get good at tying - there's just about nothing you can't create, and you discover ways to alter your favorite patterns to be more successful, or to suit your style and you'll be creating your own patterns. That - to me - makes it worth it. The only way to really save money anymore by tying your own - is to tie just one or two patterns, and tie the holy bejexus out of them. Tie up literally thousands of flies of the same pattern. And even then - with a bunch of discount websites out there now - like streamflies (an Oregon based site that sells trout flies for fifty-cents a pop and salmon/steelhead flies for about a buck a piece) it's hard to compete.

 

I'm not trying to discourage you at all - hope you don't take it as such. Just pointing out a reality that took me a few hundred bucks to realize off the bat.

 

One thing - your first few thousand flies will probably be crappy to so-so in appearance - tails, wings, bodies etc all too big, too small, etc. They'll still fish, and fish well no doubt. If you don't like how they turn out - take a razor, cut the materials off, and tie it up again. You can recycle hooks that way. Same with flies that have been thrashed by fish - you can recycle the hooks to actually save some cash. Good hooks are expensive.

 

FWIW - The hook brands I like are Mustad (cheap but decent) Tiemco (Umpqua Feather Merchants) Gamakatsu, and Dai-ichi. I get different hooks from different makers - for my general purpose dry fly hooks and straight shank wet fly hooks - it's usually Mustad. For curved shank nymph and dry hooks, I usually go Dai-ichi. Scud hooks I usually get Tiemco, and the bass flies wind up tied up on Gamakatsu stainless saltwater flies or Gamakatsu walleye or drop shot hooks - depending on pattern. I will say this - if you're fishing for bigger fish - bass & larger - spend the cash on decent hooks. Nothing sucks harder than having a hook snap because it was a cheap hook and a big fish.

 

Some other random tips:

 

Craft fur is a cheaper alternative to bucktail - and it gives a swimmier action. A 12 x 10 inch patch runs $3 vs $5 or more for a single bucktail - and you get three times the material and it's all nice and uniform in length and appearance. I like craft fur for streamers like clousers, deceivers, etc for this reason.

 

Gently furl together thin wire with peacock herl to form a rope - and your peacock bodied flies will last a bit longer before the fish thrash them.

 

Put a thin coat of head cement on the under body wraps before winding on dubbing or chenille to make your flies more rugged

 

Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails clear nail polish is the best head cement I've used. It's cheap but you'll feel weird perusing the make up isle at the store looking for it.

 

Jo Ann's Fabrics, Michaels, Fabric Depot, and the like can be a good source for tying materials - not the best quality necessarily, but usable stuff. They're not marked as tying materials, obviously, but you can get all manner of yarns, marabou feathers, guinea feathers, tinsel and glass beads in larger quantities than fly shops typically sell. The marabous usually come in 4 foot long feather boas. Also - feather dusters can be good source of peacock or ostrich herl.

 

If you know someone who raises chickens - ask if you can have the hides (feathers in tact) from a couple. AT the worst - you'll have good wet fly hackle, and maybe you'll luck out and get a rooster cape better suited for dry flies.

 

If you know a hunter who shoots ducks, pheasants, partridge, etc - ask for the hides.

 

If you get any bird hides - make sure you scrape all the meat/blood/guts from the insides of the skin, wash the feathers in a mild dish soap solution, rinse and dry well - then freeze the whole shebang for over a week to kill any critters that may be present, then you can either pluck the feathers from the hide, or leave them on the hide and treat the hide with rock salt to preserve it. Easier to pluck the feathers and sort them by type, store these in plastic baggies.

 

Get a GOOD set of bobbins - 2 will get you buy - don't settle for the stuff in your Cabela's kit. A good bobbin won't set you back more than $10 - but will save so much headache they're easily worth it. A good bobbin will have at least polished and deburred tubes, or better yet - a bead at the tube mouth, or a ceramic tube. Cheap bobbins snap thread. Good bobbins don't, unless you over-tension them for the thread you're using.

 

Good thread - not sewing thread - will also save headaches. It's less than a buck a spool for Danville stuff - and you'll tie up a hundred or more flies from a single spool.

 

 

Feel free to email me if you've got questions.

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Outstanding discription. The enjoyment in releasing a trout on a fly you have tied is unparalleled! Have fun!

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