Improving Fly Tying Efficiency  

13 comments / Posted on / by

Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Bob Reece

Many beginner and novice tiers that I’ve talked to equate improved efficiency at the vise with rushing through the tying process.

While applying the techniques below can speed up pattern creation, that result is not their sole purpose.  The main focus of these tips is to help tiers get the most out of whatever amount of time they do spend behind the vise.

20160630_133507Material Prep Work 

Some patterns require very little in terms of prepping materials.  Others, however, involve shaping foam bodies, knotting rubber legs, cutting wing cases or beading hooks.  For these flies it is highly beneficial to prepare the materials in bulk before you start tying.  When I tie foam terrestrials, I cut all of my foam bodies and the knot rubber legs that I might need. With bead head nymphs, I bead all hooks that I’ll be using as well as cutting any strips of material that I’ll be using for wing cases.  If all of your materials are fully prepped before you start tying, you’ll be able to create a larger number of flies in a shorter amount of time.  Prepping your materials in mass also increases the consistency and subsequent quality of the bugs that you’ll be offering up to your favorite fish.

20160630_133314Hook/Bead Storage

Hooks and beads can be two of the hardest materials to handle and keep track of on the surface of a tying table.  Hooks of all sizes can easily be brushed under other materials or into the abyss of carpet fibers that sit below some of our tying platforms.  Beads are also shifty and hard to handle once they leave the confines of their plastic packaging.   To prevent these happenings, I store all of my beads and hooks in plastic compartmented organizers like the one in the picture above.  The clip down lids of these containers ensure that nothing escapes.  Each compartment also has a curved bottom which makes it easy to retrieve the desired items.  The containers that I use can be purchased in the sewing section of Walmart for less than two dollars apiece.

Pattern Material Kits

How materials are stored matters in terms of efficiency.  I use plastic organizers, like the one pictured above, to create material kits for all of the patterns that I tie.  Always knowing where specific ingredients are saves a tier the time of searching though bins, drawers and baskets.  This type of setup also keeps things clean.  When you’ve finished the desired number of patterns, the materials can be quickly returned to the plastic organizer.  This eliminates a desk top covered in packets of materials.  Best of all these organizers are cheap.  I purchased the plastic organizers that I use for just under four dollars apiece in my local Walmart sewing section.

Life can be a busy and chaotic process from one day to the next.  Free time for fly creation is often difficult to find.  While these efficient techniques can increase the swiftness of wrapping up a bug, they can also help make the most of your relaxation time at the tying table.

Click here to browse and buy my new 2016 Orvis fly patterns.

Click here to view and follow me on Instagram.

Click here  for other tying videos, fishing techniques and more.

Bob Reece
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

13 thoughts on “Improving Fly Tying Efficiency  

  1. It is intresting that the Copper John was selected for the photo at the top of the page. This particular pattern uses a dozen materials if I counted correctly and can be a bit fiddly at times.

    I tie 10s, 12s, 14s close to spec, though super heavy even compared to Barr’s specifics. It is a nice looking bug when done well. I tie both rubber legged and feather versions.

    16s I don’t have the patience for the full pattern and a lose them frequently as tail end nymphs on a dropper rig. I skip the shell back and goose biots. Usually tie with feather legs unless I can find small enough rubber legs.

    18s, 20s, 22s are bead head brassies and nothing more. The size 18 in black is killer on the Kinni in early spring.

    • Yikes, 12 different materials for an attractor “nymph” sounds ridiculous. Twelve materials for any fly used to catch stream trout is absurd if we are discussing fly tying efficiency. The most effective flies seem to have only 3 or 4 materials (not counting thread and hook).

    • Interesting discussion. The tips in the article and video can be used to increase efficiency with whatever materials you use to create your choice of patterns. Regardless of what you’re tying, material prep, organization and table setup will help you be more efficient with your tying time.

  2. Bob, great article. I’ve begun organizing more and more over the last couple years, but still freestyle things a bit out of a combination of sheer laziness but more so because it can get a bit overwhelming. I organize some things according to color, others according to material type, etc., but you can only drill down so far before your system becomes too much. I’m always interested in the “systems” others use to organize their crap, particularly when it comes to the leftovers of certain materials. I often feel a sense of guilt when I throw away scraps that sometimes consist of more material than what actually stays on the fly – stacked deer hair is an example. Every once in a while I am successful in reusing scraps, but feel like I could do better. Do you have any thoughts on this? What do you save, and what do you throw away, generally speaking? Slightly different subject, but I’m really intrigued on how people pack a travel kit for tying on a trip – the thought makes my head spin.
    Hot Rod

  3. Pingback: Reece's Masked Bandit tied by Bob Reece - The Daily Fly Paper Blog

  4. Thanks for going over some tips for fly tying efficiency. I’m glad you explained it could be good to make sure all your materials are prepped beforehand because it could increase consistency. It seems beneficial to take the time to prep everything, especially if it could help make sure the flies are all similar.

  5. Pingback: Improve Fly Tying Efficiency | MidCurrent

  6. Pingback: Improve Fly Tying Efficiency – BestFitnessDirect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...