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Freestone Fly Fishing Guide: Fly Tying Part 2

Well with another week done and not a lot happening on the fishing front. This weeks blog post is going to be part two of the fly tying series. In part one I dove into the basic tools needed to start, this week I'll focus on materials and a few tricks and tips to put them all together. So with no further ado let's get at it!

Materials are the heart and soul of tying. All those neat racks of feathers, threads, wire, hooks, beads, tinsels, flashy stuff. It's easy to get overwhelmed and it's easy to get sidetracked from what you really want or need. I've spent hours at my local fly shop with a list in my head, only to come out the other end with a basket of other things and nothing from my list. What can I say, I'm like a raccoon when it comes to shiny things. Now the key is right there, make a list when you first start out. An actual list. The best and age old wisdom of picking one or two patterns and repeating them over and over and over again is still the best advice a new tyer should take to heart. I know, it's easy to want to start filling boxes with countless patterns, but honestly by sticking to one pattern and doing dozens of them your skills improve drastically. You'll be better prepared for when you start to wander off into others.

If you weren't lucky enough to get some materials from family or friends (like suggested in part one) stick to a few basics that will work for a few patterns. If you're stuck on what pattern to start with I suggest the classic woolly bugger. It's a fairly easy fly to tie and it produces. It's a bigger fly as well which tends to be easier to start with to really hone down those porportions. Change the colours around and you've got a new fly while still in the same style, which lends itself for the practice part.

Okay, back to it after that little rant on practice. So here you are with a pattern picked out, basket in hand and a burning desire to spend that hard earned dollar on some fancy feathers. For the buggers, everything you'll need is fairly priced and you'll get enough for a lot of flies. A pack of marabou which is a down feather taken from turkeys these days will give you your tail. A chenille body, a rope of yarn pretty much is cheap and a card will last a good long time. Even with those two materials and a spool of thread will catch you fish when thrown together. If you're looking for a more fancy fly and a little more technical fly, add some wire and a nice hackle. But again it's not necessary.

Your going to need some thread and there's countless types, colours, thicknesses and everything in between. I like to use a 6/0 to start out. It's a little more forgiving as it's a little thicker which makes it harder to break. When it comes to thread you'll soon find out it's all about pressure, keeping it tight yet not breaking it. That in itself is an art. I would recommend just using black thread for right now. Nothing wrong with a tight black head at the front of your flies.

We have a material list and there's one thing that's debated and argued hugely in fly tying. Hooks. I could spend a whole blog post ranting and raving over different styles, different brands and their quality. But just like everything it comes down to personal preference and above all else your budget. Starting out it's the best to use cheaper hooks until you get proficient enough to truely enjoy a nice hook. I still personally always have a pack of cheap hooks to start a new to me pattern. It saves money and if I screw up the porportions and don't feel like cutting off all that material, at least I know I'm not wasting a good hook.

Putting all those together the best bet is to use the knowledge of other people and since we live in the technological age, YouTube is your best friend. There's just nothing like watching the nuances of putting the feathers to hook in person (or in this case on screen) to learn yourself. That's also a great option, most fly shops offer classes for again a reasonable price for fly tying. Personally I spent a lot of time at these, from advanced tying to drop in nights it all helps, makes it fun and you meet a lot of great like minded people while you're doing it.

Another tip I have for saving money on materials is if you're really frugal or on a strick home budget go to dollar stores. Once you start tying you'll soon start looking at everything a little differently. That coffee "freshness seal" is pretty shiny and cut into strips would make a great midge body material. That dollar store microfiber duster with all those individual nodules in lime green make great mop flies. Being frugal anf a tyer is a great combination, and it's a great hobby to allow your creative juices to flow. The dollar store is great for that as everything is a dollar and depending on your store, new stock comes in every month or so. I've even bought feather boas there and stripped individual feathers out of them. Marabou is marabou after all. Also don't be afraid to ask the staff at your fly shop to cut down their hackle saddles and or go in with a group of friends. My fly tying buddies and me all pooled in $100 and went nuts on everything from hooks and beads to pheasant tails and foam. Communal pots are great for this and it gives an added excuse to get together. Someone always has something the other person needs or wants.

Finally and most importantly the key to fly tying is to enjoy yourself. Take your time and don't expect to have fly shop quality flies your first few hundred flies. Practice makes perfect and don't stress, it'll come. The great part is there's always a super hungry trout who doesn't care if your chironomid is a little fat, your hackled bugger is a little long, your parachute Adams is just a tad too bulky. In the end that's why we do it, to fool trout, not to fool ourselves into fishing perfect flies. Don't ever hesitate to fish your own flies however ugly you think they may be. Hopefully this gave you a little more confidence and a knowledge into the world of fly tying. Don't break your thread and keep your hooks sharp.

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