It’s been said that flies catch fly tyers, not fish. Odds are most fish don’t notice that the head of the fly is a little on the bulky side, or that your wraps are not as even as they could be.
That said, a well-tied, tidy-looking fly muster confidence, and having confidence in the fly you are fishing can make all the difference. Plus, tying flies is fun, and if we were only interested in what will catch fish, let’s face it, we probably wouldn’t fish with a fly rod.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why your flies don’t turn out quite as neat as others, or perhaps as tidy as the commercial version, keep reading because today we present you with..
5 Tips for Tying Neater Flies
- Use Fewer Thread Wraps. One of the most common mistakes made by beginners is too many thread wraps used to anchor materials. Excess thread wraps create bulk. In most cases, a good 3-5 thread wraps are enough to secure most natural materials. Experiment with the least number of thread wraps required to hold your materials in order to reduce excess bulk, resulting in a slimmer/tidier overall fly.
- Fold Back Materials. When working with slippery or stubborn materials, sometimes the best method for securing is to hold the material in place with a couple of quick wraps and fold the material back before securing it in place with a few more wraps. Folding back materials is a great way to lock in slippery materials with less bulky thread wraps, as well as double the overall appearance of your material with less waste. It’s a win-win.
- Tie In Materials to a Stopping Point. A common mistake made by many tyers when catching in a material is locking in a material with a few wraps of thread, trimming the excess, and then wrapping over with a bunch more thread wraps to conceal the trimmed ends. Doing this results in an ugly bump somewhere along the body. Whether tying in a tail, or attaching trailer wire for a stinger loop, when catching in materials aim to cover the material with thread wraps extending to a stopping point before trimming – the eye of the hook, lead eyes (see photo above), or where another material will be added. This way, the trimmed end of the material can be concealed with other materials, and the underlying materials will be consistent, resulting in a nice uniform body.
- Use Flat Thread. One of our favorite fly-tying threads for many situations is Ultra Thread (UTC). Why? Because it’s flat! Flat thread is versatile in that it can be spun to create a round profile like a rope when catching slippery materials, but can also be unwound with a quick spin of the bobbin to lay flat for less bulk. Flatter thread wraps work wonders when smoothing out bodies or creating clean-looking heads.
- Think Before You Trim. When aiming to tie sharp, tidy-looking flies, the angle at which you trim your materials can make a huge difference. Trimming materials at an angle can result in a more tapered base in which to cover with thread, while trimming materials square (at a 9o degree angle) will leave less distance to be covered along the shank. Weigh the options for the pattern you’re tying before making your cut.