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With such a plethora of fly tying tools to choose from, you are probably asking yourself which one's you need to make a start. In this article we will look at those flying tools beginners like you must invest in to get the most out of your new found hobby!

Fly tying is a beautiful art, with a rich history stretching back hundreds of years. Your objective is to utilise both natural and synthetic materials to construct a 'fly' that closely resembles, or at least creates and impression of, the natural food items the fish will be feeding on. 

Whether you're targeting Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Muskie, European Pike, Carp, Grayling, Bass, or exotic saltwater species like Tarpon, Giant Travallies, Bonefish and so on, it is essential that the flies you create are put together soundly and with ideal proportions. The tools you use will help determine your success rate.

So, what are the best fly tools to get started?

A list of the basic tools you will require would include a fly tying vice, bobbin holders, scissors, dubbing needles / bodkin, hair stackers, hackle pliers, bobbin threader, whip finisher, dubbing twisters, waste bin, UV torch and razor blade. The list is exhaustive, but these are the 'must haves'.

We've put together a list of the best fly-tying tools for beginners tyers, in no particular order:

Fly Tying Vices:

Fly tying historically began with tyer's simply holding the hook in one hand while using the other to mount the materials and wrap the thread; however things have thankfully moved on since then. Vices, in their many forms, are now used to hold the hook in place, allowing the tyer greater control over how materials are bound to them.

Broadly speaking, vices come in 'lever action' or 'spring loaded', 'C clamp' or 'pedestal base', and 'rotary' or 'fixed jaw'.

Lever action vices 

Most tyers will manage with this type of vice. Basically, the hook is placed into the jaws of the vice before a lever (usually at rear of vice) is pulled into position that draws the jaws back slightly, compressing them to lock the hook in place.

Spring loaded vice 

A lever (usually at the side of the vice) is pulled to activate a spring in the jaws that opens them up. Once the hook is in place the lever is released to lock it in place.

C Clamp 

This type of vice clamps onto the tying desk you're working at. This is especially useful when you consider complete stability and a relatively light light vice to be important. The limiting factor of course is if you find yourself in a setting without a desk / table thin enough to accommodate it. 

Pedestal Vice

As the name suggests, this type of vice has a base, usually with sufficient weight to hold it in position on the desk / table. This same weight though can be inconvenient when travelling as some bases are quite heavy. A plus with pedestal vice is the presence of pockets on some models that allow for convenient storage of hooks, beads etc, keeping them close at hand. Usually, bases come with rubber feet on the underside, but is always an idea to put a rubber mat between the base and the desk it's sitting on.


In a true rotary vice, the axis of rotation will match that of the hook shank as it sits in the vice jaws, with the fly able to revolve a complete 360 degrees, continually, both clockwise and anti clockwise. The entire horizontal plane of the hook will not deviate up or down in any direction unless you adjust to articulate up or down. The benefit of this is that materials such and palmered hackles, ribbing, head hackles, etc, can be wound in a uniform fashion, keeping everything neat and symmetrical. This results in faster tying, which is of particular importance to anyone tying large quantities of flies. Anyone tying deer hair patterns will testify to the ease at which a rotary vice allows the hair to be trimmed.

It is worth mentioning that many manufactures will label a vice rotary when in fact the rotary function isn't true, so keep this in mind when you are considering a purchase. And remember that true rotary vices are generally more expensive.

Fixed jaw

This type of vice does not, as the name suggests, rotate. The fly will be fixed in position in the horizontal plane. This isn't usually a problem for beginner fly tyers though as the techniques they will be employing will generally be limited. It is usually only a matter of time before an upgrade to a rotary vice is considered. The benefit of a fixed jaw vice is a reduction in price, allowing the beginner to invest in other essential materials.

Worth considering

There are many extra's, or attachments, that be purchased for vices and many different jaw metals and sizes. Some jaws are more durable than others depending on the metal used. And there are many sizes available that hold hooks in certain sizes ranges. Some are designed for large predator flies while others, like midge tip jaws, and designed to hold hooks down to size 32. Keep this in mind! Remember that jaws made from stainless steel will be stronger and more durable than those made using softer metals. Buy cheap, buy twice as the saying goes...

The last vice type worth mentioning are tub fly vices. They are designed specifically to accommodate tubes of various sizes. This isn't an essential requirement for a beginner tyer though as there are a range of tube fly adaptors available for standard vice types.


Scissors come in three main types; serrated, straight and curved with each having a particular use. Some are used to cut hair and other thicker materials, while other have small fine point tips for working in close to make clean precise cuts of softer materials like dubbing and feathers.

Curved scissors are excellent when cutting materials into a curve is required. Examples would be muddler heads or CDC wings.

Serrated blades are handy when cutting into thicker materials, or where more precise cuts aren't required.

The size of the finger loops also vary greatly to accommodate hands of different sizes, resulting in quite a range of ergonomics.

It's worth remembering that many materials will dull your scissors, so try to use and old, or inexpensive, pair for cutting unforgiving materials like wires, braids, tinsels and so on. Or, if you really must use your good scissors, open them right up and use the rear of the blades close the the handles.

Some threads on the market like GSP or Kevlar are actually extremely tough and will negatively affect the blades on your scissors, so it's worth keeping a razor blade handy to cut these thread types.

Fly tying scissors are generally high quality, surgical grade instruments that differ greatly to the more cumbersome, less durable and less sharp craft or domestic grade varieties, so cutting corners (excuse the pun) will see your tying 'come up short' in the long run!

Bobbin Holders

The bobbin holder tool, sometimes just referred to as a bobbin is, frankly, essential if you don't like the idea of wrapping by hand and having your materials fall out of place with every wrong move. It is an extremely simple to use but essential tool for creating artificial fishing flies. They are designed to hold the spool of thread in place and have a tube which you feed the thread through. 

When you wrap thread onto the hook the tension of the bobbin holder prevents is from unravelling, or releasing prematurely. The beauty is you can leave your bobbin hanging and the weight will hold down tightly against the materials, keeping tension. Excellent if you need to take a break or prepare other materials.

Things to consider when you are going to buy a bobbin holder is whether it has one or two legs, or whether the tube is constructed from plastic, steel or ceramic. 


This is undoubtedly the best option as the ceramic tube is durable and extremely smooth, which means there's less chance of the thread breaking. The outt

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