Fly Tying

The First Five Flies

Kyle Sanson

When I bought my first fly rod two years ago, the gentleman at the tackle shop asked if I planned on doing some tying as well. I replied saying that wasn’t really my thing. Why would I spend time tying this tiny string around these small hooks, when I could just buy and use them right away? Not to mention the fact that fly fishing seemed so alien to me at the time and adding another layer to it might push me away from the fishing style all together.

Well, here I am, two years later with a vice attached to my kitchen table and various feathers, hairs, and fabrics scattered around me. I’m still not a good fly fisherman, but after speaking with other anglers, I have decided to take up the art of fly tying.

I went searching for help on various Facebook pages on how to become better at fly fishing, and a lot of people recommended, amongst other things like practicing my casting, to tie my own flies. Their rationale is that this will provide me with a better understanding of the flies, their colurs, and how fish react to them.

I’ve tied 5 flies so far and as you’ll see later, I doubt the hungriest trout would find them appealing.

I’ve stuck with the staple flies; wooly bugger and wooly worm. Again on the advice of a tackle shop employee, I bought a pack of 25 hooks, hackle, maribou, thread, chenille, and a starter kit with all the tools required to create flies. I was convinced to buy the better tool set because I would outgrow the basic set within a month. I’ve yet to determine if this was truthful or just a good sales technique.

I’ve never been a patient person and working with small things has always been a fustration; both of which are essential to fly fishing and fly tying. That being said, I have enjoyed my fly tying experience thus far and I am starting to think the people I was talking to weren’t kidding about tying. The real answer will come once one of my creations is deemed edible by a trout.

I’ll post pictures of the tied flies below with description of what happened along the way. Of the five that are tied, only three are actually finished and “ready” to fish. Only one will get the honour of being tied on the end of my tippet this spring.

Number 1: Bead Head Wooly Bugger


This was my first attempt at tying and fly and despite my lack of arts and crafts skills, It came out alright. I didn’t size the tail properly and the hackle feather leaves much to be desired, but overall I was impressed with my first attempt. Thanks YouTube!

Number 2: Wooly Worm


Yup. If you’re thinking that looks like a collection of fly tying materials randomly tied on a hook, you’d be right. I attempted to follow paper directions that I picked up at the fly shop, and this is what happened. By the end I got fustrated and just cut the thread.

Number 3: Bead Head Wooly Bugger (Second Attempt)


Compared to my wooly worm attempt, this fly looks like it was tied by a professional. Even compared to my first attempt, this one shows signs of improvement. The tail doesn’t look like it came from a squirrel, and the hackle feathers look a little better this time around. Still plenty of room for improvement!

Number 4: Wooly Worm (Attempt 2)


I don’t know what happened with this one, so we’ll just move on.

Number 5: Wooly Bugger


My best one yet! I decided to give it a go without the bead head this time, and it turned out alright. That’s the best tail I’ve tied on yet and again there is improvement with the hackle teathers. They could be shorter, but that will come with time!

Overall, there has been a lot of progress with my wooly buggers, but the wooly worms need some work.

Fly tying is not something I ever pictured myself being interested in doing, but so far I really enjoy it and think I’ll stick with it for a while. It will become even more fun once I start catching fish with my own creations! Soon enough I’ll be back out on the water testing these out to see what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re interested in learning how to tie, I recommend you check out the scflytying Youtube channel. His videos have helped me a lot and are the reason I’ve been able to improve my wooly buggers!

Tight lines!