Fly-Tying Materials

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Basic fly-tying materials include hooks, thread, dubbing, tungsten beads, deer and elk hair, feathers, marabou, hackle, tailing wire, fly wire, head cement, and dubbing wax. Keep in mind that these are your essential starter fly-tying materials to cook up standard recipes for top wet flies, dries, and nymphs. If you’re getting serious about tying flies, you’ll need foam for terrestrial patterns, flash or tinsel, soft hackle, body parts, eyes, floss, and varying thread sizes, colors, and weights.

The best fly-tying thread for smaller flies is 8/0 (eight aught) or 70 denier, and 3/0 (three aught) or 210 denier for larger flies. You’ll find the best-quality fly-tying thread in this collection, whether you’re cooking up tiny midges or larger streamer patterns.

While sewing thread may make affordable and useful practice thread while you’re getting used to the intricacies of fly tying, we do not recommend using it for flies you intend to fish. Sewing thread is not durable enough. It rots quickly and usually breaks away after only a few uses.

The best feathers for fly tying are high-quality, natural-looking feathers that will give your patterns a lifelike look. The type of feather you use depends on the pattern. Flowy ostrich marabou creates movement for effective wet flies, but you’ll want to use buoyant, fluffy cul-de-canard feathers for emergers, dry flies, and nymphs. Similarly, stiffer center tail pheasant feathers work great to dress up salmon or steelhead flies. There are several types of feathers used in fly tying, and each is the best for its specific purpose.

You can use many types of feathers in fly tying, but a “feather is a feather” philosophy won’t work. Feathers are not automatically interchangeable. Specific types of feathers create specific types of looks and movements on a fly, so you can’t achieve the same effect with a blue jay feather you found in the yard as you can with a peacock quill or barred marabou.

Once you know your pattern, you’ll know what hook size you need, which dictates the bead size. The bead size needs to match the hook size, and there are differences between cyclops (countersunk) beads, slotted tungsten beads, and cones. For example, on a #10 hook, you’ll need a 3.3mm countersunk bead but a 4.6mm bead if you’re using slotted tungsten. We keep a hook-to-bead size chart handy because trying to memorize which types of beads go with which types of hooks can be frustrating if you’re tying several different-sized patterns.

For natural materials like feathers and hair, as well as thread, hooks, and beads, you should always purchase your fly-tying materials from a fly shop or fly-tying materials retailer. There can be a great difference in caliber of these materials, and those sold by fly shops are selected for their fly-tying quality. Many fly tyers will recommend going a step further and hand-selecting your materials at a fly shop in person. This way, you know the materials will meet your needs. Synthetic materials can vary in quality too, but tyers are often less choosy about selecting some synthetics. The benefit of buying synthetic materials from a fly shop is that the sizes, colors, flexibility, durability, and other important properties will be pre-selected for use in fly tying.

The Best Fly-Tying Materials for Lifelike Patterns

Orvis offers top-quality fly-tying materials, from bass bug spinning hair and strung marabou to body segments and tungsten beads. Browse our fly-tying materials to find exactly what you need to tie a variety of lifelike saltwater and freshwater fly patterns. Discover exceptional natural blended dubbing to create the perfect buggy effect, and find flexible yet strong options in wire that make tying midges and nymphs a whole lot easier. Silicone legs look real to fish: add them to nymph patterns and large dry flies as well as foam dry fly patterns, poppers, and crab flies. Browse our rich selection of chenille to bring your favorite nymphs and streamers to life. For adding weight and color easily to standard trout patterns and small streamers, brass and tungsten beads get the job done. Our premium fly-tying feathers and synthetics are ideal for creating Spey flies, streamers, and saltwater patterns. The bucktails in this collection are meticulously dyed, never greasy, and make an excellent choice for tying all types of streamers and saltwater fly patterns. Add realistic strike-inducing motion to your baitfish flies with our assortment of EP Fibers. A must-have material for saltwater flies, these fibers provide flash, sparkle, and semi-translucence. If you’re tying Game Changers or you need synthetics, we offer the most popular brands, including Z-Lon, CCT Body Fur, Sparkle Hair, Steve Farrar’s Flash Blend, Krystal Flash, and more. Our premium-grade marabou feathers remain the best material for adding lifelike movement to your baitfish imitations. Best used for tying saltwater flies and streamers, our marabou is available in several colors and gives your flies the action you need to net more fish. Complete your baitfish pattern with a conehead or fish skull for the ultimate realism. Explore our entire collection of fly-tying materials to find exactly what you need to create innovative, high-quality fishing flies.