Tie Twice the Flies in Half the Time

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Prepping your fly tying in advance eliminates time wasted at the vise. Photo Louis Cahill

If you tie flies and you’re looking for a way to increase your fly output, I’ve got a great fly tying tip for you today.

I personally don’t have the luxury of extra time on my hands these days with running two companies and managing my family time. When my fly boxes start getting bare, I have to restock them as fast as possible. For years, I’ve been an advanced fly tier but I’ve never been one of those guys who can rip out a dozen flies in thirty minutes. I take that back, I can bust out a dozen san juan worms in thirty minutes, but that goes for most of us. For more complex fly patterns, it can be very beneficial to us if we take the time to get organized prior to wrapping the thread on the hook.

A while back, I took a serious look at the clock during my tying sessions and I found out that I needed to make some serious changes if I wanted to get the most out of my tying efforts. The first thing I realized is that I was wasting far too much time tying each fly, which was mostly due to me making the mistake of getting the materials out one at a time during the tying process. Little things like picking up and putting down scissors inbetween tying steps adds up quick. Then you add to that, taking one hook and bead out of the packet and cutting one piece of ribbing or other fly tying material at a time, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this isn’t the most efficient way to go about fly tying. You can tie much quicker if you first commit to tying several of one pattern, and secondly, take the time to prepare your fly tying materials in advance.

The header picture above should give you a good idea of how I go about tying with efficiency these days. Notice that I’ve de-barbed and pre-beaded several hooks and then cut and organized many of the fly tying materials in advance that I’ll be using in the fly pattern. Unfortunately, you can’t do this for all tying materials. Some require you to tie them in as soon as you cut them off with scissors or pull them out of the packet, but that’s usually for just one or two materials in a fly recipe. Try this fly tying tip out next time you sit down at your vise. I think you’ll find like I did that you can tie up twice as many flies in half the time if you prep as much as you can in advance.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Tie Twice the Flies in Half the Time

  1. Great tip. I also trained myself years ago to never put the sissors down. I keep them looped on my ring finger the entire time at the bench. Keeps me from having to search for them every 30 seconds.

  2. This seems to be a pretty common problem for fly tyers who have families, work and other commitments that limit our time at the bench.

    I teach fly tying and my general principal is to tie patterns that are effective, have few steps from start to finish, and contain a minimal number of materials. The course I teach features 20 patterns, many of which have as few as two or three materials (in addition to the hook and thread).

    One of my greatest time savers is related to my favorite patterns Woolly Buggers and Clouser’s Minnow derivatives. During quiet times at home (generally in the winter) I will take hooks and add a bead and lead wrap to them, in preparation for tying wooly buggers. Similarly, I will also prep hooks for tying Clouser’s Minnows and other related patterns.

    Doing these activities in one sitting, really allows me to accomplish a lot, in a short time. And when tying time comes, I can really churn out some flies.

  3. Good tip, I always feel like I should have way more flies tied than I ever seem to when I get done at my vise. I will have to try this sometime…maybe it will eliminate my up at 4am the morning before going fishing sessions.

  4. Hey guys- great article.

    I agree with just about everything, except the scissor thing. AK Best told me the same thing, but I haven’t become comfortable with that method, and I put about a year in.

    However, prepping your materials, and quite frankly, your work bench is the most important, and the most time saving. Scissors are a split second grab. Scud back that is buried in a drawer, is another matter.

  5. I would agree with everything above. I really started gaining time when I trained my non-bobbin hand to hold my scissors at all times. Pre-cut and prep everything you can ahead of time. Charlie Craven wrote a great article on this last year in Fly Fisherman magazine, or maybe Fly Tyer.

    Also, sounds like a dumb and rather obvious tip, but it goes a long way – keep your tying desk clean! There’s nothing worse than digging through a pile of fur/feathers/hooks looking for the one thing you can’t seem to find. Put materials away when you’re done and not going to need to pull them out again for a pattern.

  6. Or ya can do what I did, teach your wife to tie. In fact she’s taken instruction from some of the best fly tiers like DL Goddard, Capt Tim Tanis, and Lefty, and now ties some of her own original patterns, which have been published. Woman seem to have a knack for details and especially matching up the colors. It’s really in the eyes, which sadly for us men, just don’t have the color receptors that women have. I’d bet most of the flies tied from several national chains are done by females. On the plus side, it gets ladies involved in fly fishing and gives us guys a little more time on the water.

  7. Pingback: June 6, 2014: Feather and Fin Link Round-Up | Feather and Fin

  8. This definitely saves you time. A lot of time gets wasted looking for materials that were there a few seconds ago. You’d be surprised how many flies you can crank out when you’ve prepped everything before hand. Pre-beading ahead of time with your smaller flies is a definite must when you’re trying to cut down on time.

  9. Just like most endeavors, doing work efficiently takes planning and discipline. Since most of us are hobby tiers and not pros, applying discipline seems antithetical to the soothing purpose of the hobby. But it is really not… . As you point out Kent, we get much more satisfaction from a job done right, whether a paying job or an avocation.

  10. I liked what was showing on the internet about the strike indicator You will be hearing from me soon I live in the state of WV and the fishing is great . Always keep a tight line.

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