What Tools Comprise the Best Fly Tying Kit for Beginners?

By Ken Schultz

Sep 23, 2022

Here are the essential tools used in fly tying and which should be included in the best fly tying kit for beginners

Many people take up fly tying shortly after they begin fly fishing. Being new to both aspects of the sport, it helps to not only receive guidance on fly fishing techniques and the discipline of casting, but especially the art of crafting fishable flies. Videos, books, and personal instruction help, and as an angler’s fly fishing knowledge increases, tying flies to suit personal angling interests is a natural evolution. That process often leads to a search for the best fly tying kit for beginners.

Fly tying is the hand manufacture of an artificial fly by winding thread around a hook and attaching assorted materials to the hook with the thread. Because there are so many places to fly fish, and so many species to pursue, you can’t categorically say what are the best flies for beginners. So, unless a kit is specifically intended for one purpose, say creating flies for trout or flies for saltwater fishing, it’s not going to have those assorted items in it.

Therefore, it’s hard to specify the best fly tying kit for beginners, but you can at least make sure that such an item has quality representatives of the most essential tools. Here’s what you need:



A fly tying vise (many people use the British version: vice) is a tool with adjustable clamping jaws that is used to secure a hook for dressing it with fly tying materials. You can’t get this specialty item in an all-purpose hardware store. It is the most important fly tying tool. Because good ones cost a lot, and many fly tyers are particular about it (having different opinions about the best fly tying vise), most fly tying kits do not include a vise.



This tool securely holds a spool of thread and applies tension on the thread and the materials used to dress the fly.


Hackle Pliers

This small tool clamps or pinches feathers for wrapping around a hook.



Scissors serve many purposes but for close-up fly tying work they should come to a fine point and be very sharp. Many tyers have multiple scissors for different purposes.


Whip Finisher

This somewhat lightning-bolt-shaped specialty item is used to make and secure the final wraps of thread on the hook.



A small, fine-tipped pick, a bodkin is useful for a variety of small-detail jobs.


Hair Stacker

This funnel-like device is used to combine and align different materials for tying onto a hook.


Dubbing Twister

Also called a spinner or whirl, this tool (which is often weighted) attaches to a dubbing loop to apply bunched-up dubbing on a fly hook.

Some other items that fly tyers find handy, like tweezers, might be found in a kit, but these are the most essential.

Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com