The Fly Tying Page

Carrie Stevens Style Streamer Wings



Not an exhaustive, or even organized, discussion of Fly Tying.
But a few things I wanted to comment on, in no particular order.




It's all been written down! There's nothing new in fly tying, you just need to find the right Books! Check out my Fly Tying Book Recommendations!

OK, if I had to give just one instruction to newcomers, it's this. Never tie just one fly...


Minimalist Fly Tying Kit Pocket Fly Tying Vise

What if you didn't want to tie a whole bunch of different flies, you just wanted to tie one or two patterns? What would be the minimum kit necessary to accomplish that? For instance, if you wanted to tie flies on an airplane? Check out my discussion here.


Salmon Fly Measuring and Proportioning Device

Here's how to use my Gap-A-Matic 3000, the amazing salmon fly proportioning device. OK, "device" is maybe too strong a word...  And maybe "amazing" is a bit on the excessive side, too...

Matarelli ComparisonWhip Finishers.  

I think you all know my opinion on whip finishing. Just do it. Stop whining about half-hitches being just as good, etc., etc. Just do it. We've taught young boys and girls to do this in minutes.

Buying a whip finisher. Just buy the Matarelli.

 Note that I didn't say Matarelli-style. Get the real thing. There's a difference, really. Save your time and money and don't mess with anything else. (I am seldom adamant about tools, books, etc., but this is just a weird thing. You can buy a half-priced knock-off, and while it works, it's just not as smooth - the slightest bit clunky. Multiply the 0.375 seconds you waste, times the 50,000 flies in a life time, and buying that expensive Matarelli is a great investment!)

As an aside to the above paragraph, I still don't think that a tool that simple could show that much difference between the knock-off and the real thing, but it's true. Take a look at this photo of the knock off on the left, and the real thing on the right. It has everything to do with the weight and finishing of the hook end, as well as the dimple in the folded bar. In addition, the "bearings" in a Matarelli (or the hole in the handle) fit the shaft better. The Matarelli will spin for several seconds if you spin it, while the knock off will wobble just for a second. This translates into a smoother wrap.  I'm not making this up.

I find that the easiest way to use the Matarelli is just how the inventor intended you to. Here is a link to the original instructions:

Matarelli Instructions

And just to be fair:

Thompson Instructions

Ty-Master Instructions


Personally, I go back and forth on magazines. Every time the renewal card comes in, I ask myself, "Did I get $19.95 of value from this over the last year?" It shouldn't be a hard question, but sometimes I can't answer in the affirmative! Right now I just subscribe to two magazines:

Fly Tyer Magazine. A US based quarterly.

Fly Dresser. The Journal of the UK Fly Dresser's Guild

Both of these are nothing but fly tying. I can recommend them both.



OK, Materials. Where do I get stuff? My first advice is always, "Right down the street." Support your local fly shop. For those of us in south-western NH, that means Sam's Sporting Goods in Keene or Brattleboro, or Pelletier's in Jaffrey. None of these guys have really exhaustive supplies of anything, but they may get you by in a pinch.

We've lost a lot of fly shops in the state over the last few years. The main shop still in business is StoneRiver Outfitters in Amherst. StoneRIver has supported our local flytying classes, and has an extraordinary stock of materials. They also are continuing the mail order business, and you can have things in your mailbox in just a couple of days. Please spend some of your money with these guys, and help them stay in business.

In terms of other mail order, I don't really have much expertise there. Since I have a few wholesale vendors, they get most of my business. Because I tie mainly classic flies, I can recommend John McLain at FeathersMc. John caters mainly to the classic tyer. We recently lost CastleArms in Springfiled, Mass. Another one bites the dust.