Fly tying: My first 30 days

In an effort to document my fly tying adventures, I decided to write a post to lay out my first 30 days behind the vise and give some insight into what I’ve learned. Maybe some of this will help the next new guy coming up, or maybe not.

Here is a quick list of what I’ve learned in my first 30 days of fly tying:

  • I’ve quickly learned what dubbing I like and what dubbing I don’t like.
  • Scissors are absolutely not a place to skimp on quality.
  • You can make many of the popular materials yourself with a quick trip to Walmart.
  • Your vise will probably need quite a few adjustments to make it easier and more comfortable to use.
  • You’ll waste a lot of materials, thread, hooks, etc. (I sure as hell have)
  • Less is more.

I’d also like to share a few other things that I think are pretty important when you start fly tying.

Videos are your friend

I’d hate to even count the number of hours I’ve spent watching fly tying videos over the last 30 days. Videos are an awesome way to learn fly tying and there are some great resources out there right now. It’s amazing how much of a learning tool YouTube can be for someone just starting out fly tying.

It’s not nearly as easy as it looks

Fly tying is not nearly as easy as it looks. Keep in mind that many of the really good, useful fly tying videos out there are done by folks that have been tying for 10, 20 and even 30+ years. So when they tie an amazing looking fly, know that there are many hours of experience behind that, so don’t expect yours to look like theirs.

The truth is, it has gotten easier every time I’ve sat down at the vise. Practice and repetition is the only way to get better and create better flies. A book, video, class or whatever else won’t teach you that.

Forget about impressing people

My flies aren’t very pretty at this early stage of fly tying, and that’s okay with me. Truth is, I’m only interested in impressing trout, not other anglers.

The fly tying community certainly has an ego and many tie simply for the admiration of their peers. If that’s your thing, cool, but I’m more interested in impressing fish, not my fellow tiers. They will get better, more refined and much prettier as I continue to refine my technique and learn new ways.

Keep it simple

This one is one that I simply can’t stress enough. Keep your first flies simple.

Simple flies are much easier to tie. Keeping them simple makes working with basic materials much easier, and it will give you the confidence to tie nice flies. It also teaches you much more about control, proportions and basics when tying basic flies. I don’t recommend that you start with size 22 flies that need 5 different materials. Keep it simple.

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The first 30 days have been fun, frustrating and downright enjoyable all at the same time. Fly tying is a challenge, to say the least, and I’m finding myself looking for that challenge more and more each day. Stay tuned for further updates and a glimpse and some of the first flies coming off of my vise.

Cory Perry
I'm a husband, father and fly fishing geek living in Greenville, SC. I'm down with slinging flies, tying flies and spending every minute I can enjoying the vast outdoors with my family and friends.

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