You’ll want to be sure you have the proper tools to begin tying flies. The list of tools here isn’t a complete list of all the tools available to a fly tyer. This is a list that will get you started. Many tyers even use found tools, or home-made tools, to complete a given task. So heck, be creative.
Oh yeah. You don’t need the absolute best tools to get started. Recommended are tools that are somewhere in between top-of-the-line and the bottom. You don’t want to be discouraged so find tools that are comfortable for you.
Here is the list and a short description for each:
Fly Tying Bench: A fly tying bench is a wonderful addition to your tying tools, but not a necessity. A tying bench will give you a nice, and neat, place to keep all of your tying materials and tools. If you are short on space and a tying bench isn’t really what your looking for, try a simple toolbox. This will hold everything and store in a safe place until you are ready to tie.
Vise: A fly tying vise is a clamp. Once your hook is securely clamped into place in the vise, you can then begin to wrap the material onto the hook while it is held firmly in place. The main aspect in selecting a vise would be the ability to hold a hook securely. There isn’t need for the beginner to purchase a high-end vise, save that money to purchase material because a simple vice is all you’ll need to get started.
Bobbin: The Bobbin is required to hold the spool of thread. It will keep a certain amount of tension on the thread while wrapping the fly. Also, the bobbin will hang from the hoook while tying. The weight of the bobbin will keep the thread from unwrapping while you prepare the material for the fly.
Bobbin Threader or Dubbing Loop: A dual purpose tool. It is about 6″ in length with a short handle and a piece of looped wire attached to it. First it will allow you thread the spool of thread through the tiny neck of the bobbin. Simply insert the threader through the neck of the bobbin, then put the thread through the loop and pull it back through the neck of the bobbin pulling the thread along with it. Secondly, it can be used as a dubbing loop tool. A dubbing loop is a section of looped thread that is secured on one end and spun to create a section of thread spun with dubbing material, usually to create the body of a fly.
Bodkin or Dubbing Needle: A bodkin, also sometimes referred to as a dubbing needle, is simply a heavy needle inset into a comfortable handle. Bodkins are used to apply cement, free tied down hackle fibers and pick out other bound down fibers.
Scissors: A very important tool. Many tyers will have a few different pairs of scissors when tying. A good pair will be need as you’ll be using them a lot. The second pair is handy to cut through heavy material such as wire and floss, save your good pair for the fine cutting. Remember, an inexpensive pair of scissors will only stay sharp for so long. Think this through, be sure you get the scissors that will hold up to your tying.
Tweezers: This is just one of those tools that can make tying easier. Depending on your needs tweezers can be used to pick up any material. Just as well, they can assist when your material on the hook isn’t in the exact place you’d like and your fingers are all thumbs.
Hackle Gauge: A hackle gauge is a small gauge used to measure the length of the hackle. It does sound simple, but the proper proportions are important. This gauge will tell you if the hackle you have chosen is the right size for the hook you’re tying with.
Hackle Pliers: Hackle pliers will help wind materials around the hook. There are many different styles of hackle pliers. Look for one that has a firm grip while not to firm to damage or tear the materials
Hair Stacker: A hair stacker aligns the tips of hairs to be tied onto the fly. Hair is inserted into the stacker and tapped until the tips are all aligned. Again, there are many sizes and styles to choose from. Your local fly shop can help you get started with the proper hair stacker.
Half Hitch Tool: Half-hitch tools are slender metal cylinders with holes of different sizes at each end. Usually they come in packages of three so that the tyer ends up with six different sizes of holes with which to work. To use the tool you first match the size of the hole in the end of one of the tools to the size of the hook eye and then lay the tool on top of the thread, twist the thread around the tool once, and with the tool up against the eye, slide the thread off onto the hook to make the half-hitch.
Whip Finisher: A whip finisher allows you to finish a tied fly with a self-sealing knot called the whip finish. Before this tool was introduced this knot is completed by hand, which for some was very difficult. This tool can be tricky to learn, but once you have the hang of it, your whip finishes will be simple and quick.