10 Things You Need to Tie Your First Fly

We all get bummed when snowy, windy or rainy days put a damper on our fishing plans, but these types of days create the perfect opportunity to learn how to tie flies. If you haven't tried fly fishing yet or are still learning how to fly fish, tying flies can be a rewarding hobby once you invest in some basic materials. One of the easiest flies to tie is a streamer-type fly called the Woolly Bugger. The Woolly Bugger mimics a leech or other live bait in the water to attract fish like trout, steelhead, salmon, bass and bluegill.

While there are many different types of materials and techniques that can be used when tying flies, here is a suggested list of materials you can use when tying a Woolly Bugger fly:

  1. Vise. A fly tying vice is a key piece of equipment since it is used to securely hold the hook of the fly to be tied. Fly tying vices are usually made from aluminum, high carbon steel or stainless steel.

  2. Bobbin. A bobbin is a spindle with flanges on which the fly tying thread is wound and helps the thread to be fed out under controlled tension while tying.

  3. Scissors. There are three different types of scissors that can be used to cut thread and fly tying materials. You can use all-purpose scissors for basic tying, arrow point scissors for tying larger flies, and razor scissors to cut difficult materials or to trim marabou.

  4. Hooks. Streamer hooks in sizes 6, 7 or 8 (depending on the size of the fish being targeted) are used for tying flies. Streamer hooks can be purchased from a specialty outdoor retailer or fly shop.

  5. Marabou Feathers. Marabou feathers are used for tying tails on many flies since the material creates life-like motion when under the water. Marabou feathers that are in the 3-4 inch range and come in earth tones (like olive green or brown) are ideal for beginners.

  6. Saddle Hackle. Saddle hackles are feathers that are generally used for tying the backs of the Woolly Bugger or other flies.

  7. Chenille. Chenille is a type of yarn that is used to tie fly bodies and is sold in a variety of different colors. Some even come with bits of flashy tinsel woven through the yarn to attract fish. Olive is a popular chenille color to use when tying Woolly Buggers.

  8. Thread. You'll need a spool of 8/0 fly tying thread to tie your first Woolly Bugger. 8/0 thread is the most popular thread for tying small flies. Look for thread that is made of continuous polyester filament and has a high breaking strength.

  9. Wire. When tying a Woolly Bugger fly, a strip of wire is often wrapped onto the hook shank to help keep the fly body in place.

  10. Adhesive or Glue. Fly tying cement or glue will help keep your fly patterns intact and preventing threads from unraveling.

Once you have all of your fly tying materials and tools assembled, you can watch this helpful video that will show you how to tie a Woolly Bugger: http://youtu.be/73DAALwRN5M.

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.