Many fly anglers who are new to the sport have purchased their flies from a local fly shop. Now, they want to learn how to tie their own flies but don’t know where to start. Here’s some ideas on you can learn and become a better fly tier.
Books & Videos
Many great fly tiers first learned from reading the instructional books of others. Now, along with the books, there are many great videos on not only beginning at fly tying, but even aimed at perfecting different styles of flies. From learning how to tie basic trout patterns to more complicated Atlantic Salmon, there are some great videos for just about everything. You can even learn to tie in the “Irish” style, or focus on large top water bass fies.
Join A Club
Most cities and many small towns, especially those in the vicinity of fly fishing waters have fly fishing clubs. Members will often meet once a month or more often, and discuss a variety of things including conservation, river restoration projects, and plan trips to new waters. Some evenings, clubs might have a special speaker that will come in and discuss new gear or techniques that has helped improve their own fishing.
New anglers are usually more than welcome at these clubs. Some will even put on fly fishing casting lessons are more than happy to arrange time for beginners to introduce them to the wonderful sport.
As well as teaching fly fishing techniques, these clubs will often host fly tying nights as well. Sometimes, these can be very informal sessions where everyone brings along a vice and the members tie whatever they like, while other times they may be more formal with a member introducing a brand new pattern and teaching the techniques and skills needed to tie it.
Take A Course
If reading isn’t your thing, and you can’t join a local club, take a look at your local school board’s “Continuing Education” program. Many school boards will include fly tying lessons over the winter months on a weekly basis. You might be surprised at the quality of education in learning how to tie flies you might get. My father learned how to tie flies while taking a course through the local school board. The instructor happened to be one of the best fly anglers and tiers in Canada, Ian James.
Many of these types of courses are inexpensive although you may be required to pay a materials fee so that the instructor can provide you with the supplies you’ll need to learn to tie the flies he is teaching you.
Get Some Fly Tying Friends.
Perhaps one of the best ways to learn to tie flies is to ask your friends! Most fly fishers are very open with their knowledge and are willing to share it. Fly tying is no exception. Some of the most fun moments I’ve had are when a bunch of friends got together with our vices and we taught each other techniques we had learned or new patterns that had been effective on the waters we’ve fished. Very informal in nature, the conversation can run from teasing each other about the size of head on our flies to home winemaking activities and talking about our favorite Scotch.
There is no schedule, and without the formalities, this can be a terrific way to improve your fly tying skills. Of course, as with any new skill, teaching it to others helps to reinforce what we’ve learned ourselves.