Fly Tying 101

Hey, welcome to Scott’s Virtual Fly Tying.

My #1 goal with this site is to help you to become a better fly tyer.

Fly tying fundamentals

There are so many skills and techniques and fly tying supplies involved in tying flies these days that it’s difficult to condense it down into something that’s easy to understand. Over the years, mostly through trial and error, I’ve learned that there are some fundamental components to fly tying that improve your craft.

They are:

  1. Proportion and profile. Research bug anatomy. Flies don’t have to look exactly like the real thing, but they do need to offer the correct profile in the water and that’s usually accomplished by getting the proportions right.
  2. Every thread wrap counts. Don’t make any more thread wraps than necessary, especially on smaller flies. Why make 3 or 4 wraps when 1 or 2 work?
  3. Keep it tight. Keep as much tension on each wrap as the thread and bobbin allows. Sometimes you have to go to the point of breaking the thread to find out how much tension to apply.
  4. Bottom, not top. Most of the time we gauge the success of a fly by looking at it from the top. Fish, however, see mostly the bottom of your fly. Take a minute to look at each of your flies from below.
  5. Self-critique. Take a photograph of a finished fly you tied. You don’t need a fancy camera; usually, your phone camera works just fine. This allows you to zoom in and see more clearly any small improvement you can make.

Introductory video tutorials

The fly patterns on this site, whether it’s a mayfly pattern, a stonefly pattern, caddisfly pattern, streamer pattern, or other aquatics like scuds/sowbugs or leeches, have been carefully chosen to:

  1. Capture as many of the fundamental fly tying techniques as possible; and,
  2. Help you learn to tie some of the most common and well-known patterns

My hope is that by spending some time on SVFT you will begin to develop the skills, techniques, and confidence to be able to tie any fly pattern that you come across. 

Let’s get to it:

Recommended fly tying supplies

If you don’t already have fly tying equipment and materials, then I would consider buying a pre-made package. If you’d rather purchase tools and equipment individually, have a look thorough my library of fly tying supplies.

Here’s a few options you can buy with a decent set of pre-packaged gear: 

  • Cabela’s Super Deluxe Fly Tying Kit (Cabela’s link) *tools and materials
  • Gunnison River Deluxe Fly Tying Tool Kit (amazon link) *tools and materials
  • Dr. Slick Fly Tying Tool Kit (Cabela’s link) *tools only
  • Loon Core Fly Tying Tools Kit (Amazon link) *tools only

Best flies to tie for beginners

Once you’ve gathered the materials and equipment you need, start with a set of beginner flies, like:

Tie dozens of each of these. It will help you familiarize yourself with the fly tying equipment, and will also develop your ability with basic fly tying techniques. 

Intermediate fly tying patterns

Once you’re confident with the beginner fly patterns, move up to some of the intermediate flies, like:

Again, tie a bunch. 

Advanced fly tying patterns

Eventually, you can expand your repertoire to advanced flies, like:

  • PMX (Parachute Madame X) *coming soon
  • Sculpzilla *coming soon
  • Articulated Circus Peanut *coming soon
  • Muddler Minnow *coming soon

The true test will be if you’re able to look at a store-bought fly, or an online photo of a fly, and have the skills to be able to re-construct it. Good luck!