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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16 thoughts on “Tie Twice the Flies in Half the Time

  1. Nice tip Kent. I’ll have to try this the next time I’m at the vise. Maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in a couple more flies in between diaper changes! Not mine…. my daughter’s….who is a 2wks old. Just to clarify!

    • Justin,

      It really saves a lot of time and will increase the number of flies you can bust out. You should be getting pretty good at changing diapers by now 🙂 That keeps getting more fun, just wait.


  2. Sage advice indeed. My biggest problem, when I am not in ‘production mode’- is that I like try new materials and I often get ideas and inspiration in the middle of a fly. The most difficult thing to do is produce dozens of flies that are identical, but also the sign of a good tier.
    Tight Lines,

  3. For the last 50 years I have been tying flys that appeal to me for one reason or another and limited originally by how long I could keep my sisters out of my stuff. Later it was therapy for a very dangerous but profitable job, then my own kids and so on. The one constant for me has been passion for the different types of materials available to experiment with. For me it has never been about numbers but designing fly’s that work with what you have at your disposal. Then there is that gift from the tyers God, my roll top desk. I can tie year round and stop when I need to and just close that top and my stuff is safe from cats to kids. If it was for number of flys I needed to produce I would have stopped tying when I got out of high school in 1968. The scariest thing I can think of would be turning my passion into a job. I think your blog is great and I enjoy all the variety I see within this sport and it shows in the comments! Yes, organiztion is key to success and speed even with a roll top to hide in.

    • Dan,

      Thanks for your comment and the opportunity to get a glimpse of you’re fly tying history. The point of the post was by know means meant to be read and taken, that all of fly tiers should always tie as many flies as they can or just one pattern at a time. One of the most rewarding parts of tying flies is the creativity and spontaneity of it all. I too enjoy this side of it. That being said, there are many times when we’re about to head out on a long fly fishing trip or like me, fixing to guide, and we have little time to fill our fly boxes. As you agree, organization and eliminating wasteful time can really help that.

      I bet that roll top tying desk is awesome. I use a cheap table that I bought from Home Depot. It does the job but it’s not a roll top. You just made Louis jealous. He’s been going on and on about trying to find a reasonably priced roll top desk for his tying.


  4. Kent, I’m a “not exactly advanced” tier and am currently working on putting together a dozen or so of my top ten in a couple of different sizes. I think your tip is really going to be helpful and cut down on the frustration of “low output”. By the way, what is that fly?

  5. Great article. Love your blog, always worth reading. For more of the same, grab a copy of “Production Fly Tying” by A.K. Best. He has all kinds of time saving hints. For example, I never put my scissors down; always have them on my index finger. Just little things here and there have improved not only the number of flies I can tie per unit of time, but also the quality. Cheers, Frank

  6. This is great advice. I’ve attempted this when I first started tying by doing half a dozen flies in stages, but soon realized the time taken to tie off thread between flies and the excess use of it was impractical for most flies. The price of being a rookie I guess! Your suggestion makes a lot more sense though and I’ll try it next time I tie. As always, I look forward to that Monday morning email from you guys to start my week right!

    • Ben,

      I did the same thing as you recall early on as well. Ha.

      This way does really make a difference. Thanks for commenting and thank you for consistently tuning in to Gink & Gasoline.


  7. I’m in the process of filling fly boxes for my grandkids so this was timely advice. I always learn something from you blog, thanks.

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