Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best Fly Tying Equipment 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated February 1, 2018
Best Fly Tying Equipment of 2018
I have a variety of material used in the construction of fly tying equipment including metal, plastic, and glass. Many models on the market may be confusing to a person who is shopping for their first time.
We’ve narrowed down our options based on the customer feedback (read positive reviews), functionality, material and size. In other words, we’ve put all fundamentals into consideration to come up with a comprehensive list that suits various needs. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your comfort, style, or accessibility, we have picks to fit a variety of needs and budgets.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this fly tying equipment win the first place?
I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this fly tying equipment come in second place?
Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this fly tying equipment take third place?
I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.
Fly Tying Equipment Buyer’s Guide
The Blue Quill Angler
Evergreen, Colorado all your fly fishing needs, regardless of your skill level or physical location.
Experienced shop staff. Most of the guys in our shop have been with the Blue Quill Angler for years. Cody Scott, Mike Williams, Brian Kelso, and Kerry Caraghar are here to help you with advice on equipment, fly tying materials, suggestions on where to fish, and to answer any questions you may have. These guys are some of the best in the industry, and their experience and variety of knowledge cannot be duplicated anywhere. Our stores (fly shop and online) are filled with all the best brands in fly fishing, including:
Simms, Sage, Orvis, Patagonia, Ross, Rio, Hatch, Scientific Anglers, Umpqua, and
The best fly fishing guides in Colorado. Our mix of fly fishing industry veterans, like Pat Dorsey, Bob Dye, John Keefover and Kerry Caraghar, have mentored and developed our entire guide staff, so that our ability to serve you in the best way possible will continue well into the future. Our guides are professionals and their passion and love for our sport is second to none. At the Blue Quill Angler, we understand that every guide trip we take is unique, and each client may have different goals for the day. The experience of our staff allows us to tailor your guided trip to exactly what you are looking for.
The best rivers in Colorado. Our extensive permits allow us to take our guided fly fishing trips to rivers in Colorado that other shops cannot. For example, we are one of a select few outfitters in Colorado allowed to guide in Cheesman Canyon, which is considered to be one of the most pristine fisheries in the world. Through our permits, we truly have the ability to take you to the river that is fishing the absolute best at the time of your trip. We professionally guide the South Platte river at Deckers, Cheesman Canyon, Charlie Meyer’s State Wildlife Area (Dream Stream), Tomahawk, Badger Basin, leases on the North Fork of the South Platte river (Boxwood Gulch, Longmeadow Ranch, North Fork Guest Ranch, and North Fork Meadows), the Colorado river, the Williams Fork river, the Blue river, the Arkansas river, and Rocky Mountain Angling Club properties. So you can rest assured, knowing that our guides will be taking you to some of the best fishing Colorado has to offer.
We love to teach. We believe that fly fishing offers something for everyone. We also know that there is a lot to learn in fly fishing, so we offer many fly fishing classes and fly tying clinics throughout the year. Kerry Caraghar, who has nearly 30 years of experience as an Orvis endorsed guide, is the director of our classes here at the shop. Kerry’s passion for teaching fly fishing is evident through his lifetime experience teaching the sport, from beginners to advanced anglers. Check out our class and seminar schedules and learn how to take your fly fishing game to the next level. We also have fly fishing classes tailored to women and kids, so that they can explore the wonders of fly fishing in a friendly and welcoming environment. To that end, check out the Classes and Education section above and have a look at our online Fly Fishing Learning Center. We plan to keep it filled with useful and relevant information for anglers of all skill levels. We hope you bookmark our website and come back often.
From all of us here at the Blue Quill – a sincere thank you for your business and support!
Pair the right equipment with a steady hand
You’ll need some basic tools to get tying. Start with the holy trinity of vice, scissors and bobbin holder.
While it’s possible to tie a fly totally by hand, we wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. Most fly tyers choose to use a vice, and so should you. There are many types available, so do your research before you buy. As the Fly Dressers’ Guild advises: “Choosing your first vice and tools is a bit like buying your first car: very exciting, potentially expensive, but easy to end up with something poorly made and not up to the task.”
Pick a vice that’s easy to use, has a good grip and will hold a variety of hook sizes.
Next on your shopping list is a pair of sharp, pointed scissors. Those rusty old scissors in your kitchen drawer literally won’t cut it. Get yourself a dedicated pair of fly-tying scissors.
If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, Global Fly Fisher has the most comprehensive guide to fly-tying scissors you’ll ever read.
Master fly tyer Barry Ord Clarke recommends two pairs of scissors: “one with extremely fine points for the more intricate work and a pair with larger and serrated blades for deer hair and heavier work.”
Hackle pliers are useful for big fingers that can’t get a good grip on small feathers. But the Fly Dressers’ Guild warns: “Check that the edges of the jaws are not sharp or they will cut through your materials. A quick rub with emery paper or the addition of a small piece of silicone tubing will cure this problem.”
A dubbing needle performs a variety of roles. It will pick out dubbing (fur), apply varnish, undo knots and separate feather fibres. You don’t necessarily need to buy a dubbing needle if you can find something else that’s long and pointy to use instead – the Fly Dressers’ Guild recommends “Grandma’s hat pins”.
One of Hillend Dabbler’s al fresco creations
Depending on where your tying table is located you might need to shine some light on your handiwork. There are a number of fly tying lamps that give the magnification and shadow-free light you’ll need for the fiddly stuff.
A fine selection of fly rods and flies
Next up you need a fly fishing rod. Here your choice depends to a large extent on where you’re hoping to fish, what species you’re most interested in catching, and whether or not you’re likely to be travelling with your fishing rod.
Fly rod selection is a tough subject, so check out our guide to choosing the right fly fishing rod for more tips and advice.
Here’s what the guys here at Fishtec thought of it when it was launched:
Flaming fly lines
Now for your first fly line. For beginners we recommend a floating line because you’ll be able to use it for fishing both dry flies on the surface, and wet flies just under the water. The weight of your line or AFTM rating should match the rod you fish with, so make sure you look for the information written just above the handle of your rod.
Fly fishing clothing
Image source: Unaccomplished Angler Traditional fly fishing clothing
Fly fishing clothing needs to do three things: wick moisture away from your skin; hold warm, dry air close to your body; and keep the elements out. Layers are the answer, the more you have, the more clothes you can take off as it gets warmer, or put on as the temperature drops.
Putting it all together
Obviously, you need something to serve as the backbone of your fly and something that will catch fish too. You can buy barbless or barbed, depending on your State’s fishing laws and your personal ethics. I fish for trout barbless, but I just press down the barb when I buy hooks.
I would recommend starting to tie dry flies on a number 1for Elk Hair Caddis’s and a 1for Adam’s dry flies. These two sizes tend to make a fly that’s easy to tie but small enough to mimic the real fly. I like to use Daiichi’s or Mustad’s.
For tying wooly bugger’s, you can experiment with different sizes. However, it depends always on what weight rod, reel, and line you’re currently using. Therefore, go with a streamer hook that fits closer to the weight line you use.
For nymphs I like to use this straight eyed nymph hook. You’ll need a bent hook to mimic the curled body of nymphs as well as keep your hook point from snagging on rocks.
Hackle and Feathers
For wooly buggers, they require a slightly different long hackle. Luckily, Whiting makes a wooly bugger hackle pack. I’d recommend black to start, and grizzly olive to start. Along with these, get yourself some black or olive marabou feathers which make up the bushy and fluffy tail of the fly (they are used to make those feather boa’s).
Hungarian partridge feathers are a useful and cheap feather to use for everything. Make collars on nymphs and emergers, to use for tails and wings on dries. Once you master using them, you can do quite a lot.
Chenille remind me of the garland you put on a Christmas tree. They are a very useful material to make bodies and eggs with and beef up a fly. Buy a set in black and olive color for your wooly’s and expand from there. If you plan to fish for salmon or steelies, buy a red, orange, or peach color to tie eggs (very easy pattern).
There are two types of dubbing. Superfine synthetic dubbing is almost like cotton. This is a light dubbing and used to make the bodies of dry flies like the Adam’s. Hare’s ear dubbing is more like wooly and is used to body nymphs and other “buggy” looking flies. I bought both in an assorted color box that I could mix and match color combinations for dries and wet flies. It’s fun to try them out and make some offbeat colors. It’s even better when you see them actually work!
Wire, along with a bead, will help you get your nymphs to drop down quick and maintain a proper orientation. Just a simple heavy metal wire will do. I like to use a thin gauge to have more control on how much weight I want to add.
That about does it for materials and tools to get yourself tying flies. If you can, check around at your local library or your local Trout Unlimited chapter for fly tying classes or meetups. If not, you can also start checking Youtube, websites, and forums for plenty of how-to’s and guides.
Rotary handle fits the shaft a little bit too loosely
The second contender from the formidable Wolff Industries also comes with a warranty that is free from defects in both its labor and materials — something that I find highly indispensable when I was still choosing my fly tying vise.
Its tool steel jaws are boosted by its body’s stainless steel construction and the flexible 6/0 to 3hook range. The flexibility continues with the product’s in-line rotary left and right along with the much-needed hand-tying adjustment.
The Apex Rotary Fly Tying Vise is also detailed with an easy-to-follow instruction right from its vise head position, its jaws, down to its lock handle and black wing nut. Every inch of the detail is supplied to get you not only started but arm you with ways to make your flies masterfully-put together.
Nor-Vise have been around for along time.
Nor-Vise is the tool for all serious anglers. A full-size, high-quality material made vise. Easy and faster tying. This comes in handy if you especially want adjustable bent arm and midge jaw conversion. No confusion; no gimmicks. Not compromise with quality vises.
A perfect, mid range vise that you will be using several years. All parts are made with accuracy. Finished using top notch stainless steel. That is a great vise to use to make the saltwater pattern.
At such a low cost, this rod simply can not be beat in this category, particularly when casting the rod feels as if it were a far more expensive model. Fenwick has brought years of experience making high quality rods into manufacturing a model that is of a high quality yet affordable on any budget.
Fly Fishing Rod Weight
Fly fishing rods from 0-weight are called ultra-light fly fishing rods. These work well for smaller creeks and streams and have extremely slow action. The mid-weight category (4-6) is used as a catch-all for most situations you will encounter while fly fishing. The heavier weight rods (7-10+) are used for steelhead trout and bass, long cast presentations, and in situations where a heavy nymph or streamer is needed to bag that prize fish!
Fly Fishing Rod Action
The action of a fly fishing rod refers to how deeply the rod will bend during your cast. Slow action rods are lighter, more flexible, bend throughout the length of the rod, and will load slowly, while fast action rods are heavier, less flexible, bend primarily in the upper section of the rod, and will load more quickly. Loading a fly rod is a concept that refers to the time it takes to feel a pull during the pause between your forward and backward cast. When you feel the slight pull, the line has straightened behind you (this is known as l oading th e rod tip), and it is possible to move into your forward stroke with less chance of a tangle and higher chance of that perfect presentation. Most 5-weight fly fishing rods will have medium to fast action.
Fly Fishing Rod Length
It is important to determine where you will be using your fly fishing rod before you chose the perfect length. While I am fishing small streams in the backcountry of King’s Canyon in California, where the brush lies heavily along the sides of the water and the trout lie waiting in slight bends or rocky pools beneath small waterfalls, a shorter rod enables me to present my fly to the fish while my cast is restricted to a shorter arc.
However, while in open area, wading along the broad Chattahoochee or Salmon in search of larger game-fish, I find I need a longer rod with fast action to power the cast with windy conditions or lengthy presentations. I would suggest choosing something in the eight to nine-and-a-half foot range if you are in the market for an all-round rod to meet all of your needs.
RIO InTouch Switch Chucker
This is the ultimate “UTILITY LINE” for the angler that wants to use their switch rod for a bit of everything. It will spey cast, do some indicator fishing at 30′ or less, and overhead cast as well. You can use it with sink tips, polyleaders, or without any sink tip and just put a tapered leader right on the end. It is a very versatile line thanks to a long back taper.
TYPE OF LINE: Integrated line (head and running line are one piece). Can be used with or without sink tips.
PROS – Best all around “get it done without crying” line.
CONS – Doesn’t shoot like a shooting head/mono running line combo. Won’t indicator fish at long distance like the RIO Switch Line.
SINK TIPS – RIO InTouch Mow Tips, or RIO InTouch iMOW polyleaders, or with nothing at all. Fish it naked.
RIO Switch Line
The RIO Switch Line is the best all around indicator line in the family. It is very nymphing specific, but will do a spey cast with a polyleader if you have to. Don’t expect to look like Simon Gawesworth however.
TYPE OF LINE: Integrated line (head and running line are one piece). Best without any polyleader, just put you tapered leader right on the end.
PROS – Best all around indicator line, but it can certainly be used without it as well. It can fish dry flies as well.
CONS – Doesn’t shoot like many folks are expecting it to, it has a very long head designed for managing drifts at longer range. This is the best line for steelhead nymphing or trout nymphing on large western rivers.
SINK TIPS – Polyleaders if you use them, good to have a couple just in case you need to throw a change up.
Airflo Switch Float
This line is specifically for fishing small to mid-sized flies and anglers that crave that beautiful long loop. Its fun to cast, but don’t expect it to cast large flies. Its perfect for summer run steelhead fishing or swinging small flies on light lines for trout.
TYPE OF LINE: Integrated line (head and running line are one piece). Best without any polyleader, and it comes with a clear floating polyleader.
PROS – Great casting line, perfect for summer steelhead fishing.
CONS – Because the head length is 26-28′ it is tougher to throw large flies. This isn’t necessarily a con, just a fact. Because its an integrated line, you’ll lose some efficiency vs. a mono running line.
OPST Lazar Line Running Line
OPST Lazar Line has a fairly round profile and doesn’t “pull through” on a non full framed reel as easily. Pull through is when the line squeezes between the spool and reel frame. Its annoying but part of life. A full framed reel like the Sage DOMAIN prevents this from happening.
As mentioned above with this kit it does not matter if you are a professional or a beginner. Inside the kit you will find an instructional DVD that will teach you the basics or fly tying. At the end of this DVD you will have the knowledge the build several different styles of lures right in the field.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Fly Tying Equipment wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Fly Tying Equipment
- №1 — Hair Stacker for Fly Tying
- №2 — Colorado Anglers 102 Supreme Vise
- №3 — Colorado Anglers Super Aa Vise 103