Fly & Tenkara

Fly tying for beginners

I seem to have a habit of forming hobbies quickly and with gusto. For example, I recently decided I wanted to make a coffee table, so acquired some beautiful ironbark and an electric plane and off I went. A fleeting passion? Perhaps (coffee table aint finished). But more recently, after spending some time with fellow blogger and new flyfishing convert Hamish, I got inspired to get into fly fishing. For me, it feels like a natural addition to lure and occasional bait fishing, in terms of challenging myself to catch a broader range of species on artificials, developing greater ecological literacy and generally spending more time in or near the water.

Anyway, despite never actually having caught a fish on a fly, I decided to buy a beautiful Scott fly rod and Manic Assassin reel, thanks to the boys at Manic Tackle Project, New Zealand. I also raced out to my local tackle store and bought the best fly tying kit I could afford. If anyone played with lego, racing cars, models or anything cool when they were young, you might understand the apprehensive excitement of opening a cardboard box full of shiny, trinkety, gimmicky little bits of plastic, metal and technology. Thankfully my kit had a good little guide book and with a bit of extra encouragement from Youtube, I was on my way to fly tying.

Below I’ve included some of my first attempts. Sitting down with a glass of wine or a beer and playing with bits of feather, string, hooks and other materials is immensely enjoyable. I even went to Lincraft the other day, and instead of being a horrifyingly boring and strangely surreal experience I spent $50 bucks on a range of lovely emu feathers and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. I never thought I’d see the day where I have to ask my fiance if I can duck into Lincraft…

Fly tying has done other strange things to me. I keep looking at these birds in the backyard and thinking to myself ‘I’d love to get my hands on you’. I’m even willing the cats to at least just have a go…maybe they’d be kind enough to drop some of those lovely hackle feathers. I’ve started looking at roadkill on the side of the road, thinking, ‘that would make some beautiful flies’. The aforementioned cats have even had parts of their tail go missing while cuddling up to me and my new feather collection. I spent the weekend at the farm where, on the main driveway, I needed to stop the car every 10 metres to pick wads of cow’s tail out of the barbed wire…Needless to say, I think this will be one of those hobbies that hangs around, and simply adds another exciting element to the multifaceted and immensely enjoyable pastime that is fishing.

Pheasant tail something
Not sure what this is meant to be…but it looks pretty cool!
Lead core Wooly Bugger with front-facing hackle
Mullet maggot
Some sort of bug

As you can see I’ve been having a heap of fun. This represents about 5% of the flies I’ve tied so far…it’s completely addictive and I can’t wait to get out and test some of them on the water. Hmm, what to do now…vise calling 🙂

*for anyone who’s interested in photography, these shots were taken on an old Nikkor Micro lens on the Nikon D7000 body…not a bad result!

Lee, July 2012

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13 thoughts on “Fly tying for beginners

  1. suggestions to assist budget-wise:
    Riot Art & Craft for sealed cell foam for bodies & gurglers (2 & 3 mm), styrene foam and balsa for poppers, eyes, ribbing, mono, wire, paints, fabric paints,textas, and other supplies
    Lincraft for colored threads and scissors, frizz, chenilles
    Lincraft,Riot, or Maria George for glass beads
    $2 shops for feathers, nail polish, plastic screw top containers for beads, “jelly” stretch cord in various colours (by the spool)
    Riot, Lincraft, Myer, $2 shops for feathers
    supermarkets for korbond (6x mono for tying)
    train hobby stores for balsa, styrene for poppers
    silastic for bodies (instead of epoxy)
    Priceline & $2 shops for clear nailpolish for head sealant
    Office works/newsagents for clips as hackle pliers

    natural sources:
    hunting – ducks, pheasants, rabbits, fox
    roadkill – fox, kangaroo, possum
    pets – cat and dog fur, possiblyfeathers
    farm – sheep hair (indicator), horsehair (ribbing, bodies, traditional leaders), chook feathers

    1. thanks Craig – really appreciate it. I didn’t realise you could get almost everything you need from these sources. Do you know if untreated wool is any good for dubbing? I have access to a shearing shed full! Thanks again! Lee

  2. I’ve often thought of taking up tying my own flies but I have a friend who succumbed to the addiction who keeps me supplied with plenty. However, I can see how much fun it would be and even though I dont tie flies, I still look at animals as walking, flying and terminally inconvenienced fly tying sources.So, maybe I’m still not safe?

    1. Hi Steve, I love your description of ‘terminally inconvenienced fly tying sources’! It’s my new long-name for my cat. Cheers, Lee

      1. Hi Lee,
        On the subject of ‘ terminally inconvenienced fly tying sources’, I wonder if there are any legal issues in collecting material from road killed protected OZ creatures? Being a protected animal obviously hasn’t been much benefit if the animal has had a mortal disagreement with a car or Mack truck. But, I have heard of people getting into grief because they’ve picked up and collected things like animal skulls in the bush. Something to think about but not too much. So, will you be tying a Wonky Wombat or a KO-ed Koala in the near future?

        1. Hi Steve, it’s an interesting point, made morbidly humorous by your lovely grasp on the English language. Maybe you should be writing for this blog! If anyone out there knows of the legalities of tampering with roadkill, please enlighten us. Either way, you’ve given me some good ideas for roadkill fly names: Flat Fox, Dry Rabbit, Cat-astrophe, Roo Emerger, Possum Bolognese and Oh Deer…I should stop there before I start getting too politically incorrect

  3. Lee, I think you have a talent as a sculptor as well! Good to see you are using the lens, Mum X

    1. Thanks Mum. The lens is fantastic…sometimes difficult to focus using such a shallow depth of field, but the results are great!

  4. Lee…Just a few more name suggestions for flies made from road kill sourced materials–Cropper Hopper, Morbid Magpie, Pulpy Potoroo and the Languid Lyrebird–the possibilities are endless. Maybe you should start up a fly tying business with a name like “F–ked Duck Flies”?

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