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Fly Tying Materials

Fly Hooks and Materials


Tied with the ORIGINAL Scotish Spey Cock feather or tied with Heron. Today legal substitutes like Rhea or Blue Eared Pheasant are used but are not as good as the original material.

Even those that may have been tying for years are often challenged to identify all the material that may be used in an unfamilar pattern. Nothing comes in more varieties than feathers. What color is Coachman brown, or pale dun? What is ginger variant?

Even though I tied classic salmon fly patterns, I had never seen a real scarlet Ibis feather, or a real Florican bustard. What is barred wood duck? Our gallery of feathers will help identify, birds, capes, and feathers.

What the heck bird is that?


        fireback pheasant

Tinsel and Ribbing

Traditionally, tinsel was used for segmenting a fly, and was either flat or oval. Tinsel traditionally was silver or gold. Today, it come is all colors. Mylar is very popular with silver on one side and gold on the other. Braided varieties are often used for larger flies such a shad, steelheed, streamers, and saltwater flies. Pearlesence tinsel is often popular. In the days when tinsel was metalic, an aged fly would oxidize. Old timer at the fly trying bench would brighten up their floss with an eraser. The advantage of metalic tinsel is it is more durable than mylar and it comes embbosed which makes it more visable.

Oval Tinsel is used to tie many fly patterns and comes in small, medium and large. It is used to rib the Hare's Ear and many other nymphs. It is also used for tags and ribs on many classic full dress salmon flies. Oval tinsel is a "must have" on any fly tyier's desk.

Head Cements

I am going to focus on solvent based cements, as they are the most common. These head cements dry by evaporation. In order to maintain your cement at the correct consistency, you must periodically replace sovent loss to evaporation.

Different viscosities of cement fit different applications. Thin head cement penetrates tying materials deeper and quicker. Thicker head cements are quicker to build up a high gloss finish. Many tiers will have both a thin and thicker cement on their tying bench. Stick a tooth pick through the eye of your hook to allow the head cement to dry. Keeps the eye clear of unwanted head cement.

Applicator Jar are very useful but they should be kept in a heavy tip proof base. The jars come with a needle to apply head cement. Fill the bottle only until the tip of the needle protrudes about 3/32" into the cement. That way the needle is not delivering a potentionally large glop when just a little is needed. On most applicator jars, the needle is height adjustable, which makes it more useful for tying different size flies. The shorter the length protuding the lid, the less likely you are to tip over the bottle.

Of the volatile solvents, acetone is more benign than lacquer thinner, Toluene or MEK

Our sponsor, Orvis makes both a high-gloss and deep-penetrating head cement.


See our page thread.htm for type, sizes, uses.


Size, bend, color and style or use. Ie. Dry, wet, Salmon, saltwater

Hook Vendors:
Daiichi , Gamakatsu , Mustad , Redditch , Tiemco / TMC , Partridge , J. Stockard , Umpqua )

Eye Style: Turned Up Eye (TUE), Turned-Down Eye (TDE), Blind Eye, Ball eye
Bend:Model Perfect, Sproat, Limerick, York, Dublin
Material:Bronze (standard hook),tinned,nickle plated, stainless, iron, Cadmium Plate (saltwater)
Length: 1x long, 2x long, 3x long, 4x long, 1xs (extra short), 2xs - extra-extra short
    The 2x hook shank comes with a shank two times longer than the usual hook and visa-versa.     Extra short hooks are use to tie specialty paytterns or salmon egg patterns, leaches, saltwater flies.
Sizes:28~1 sizes(higher the number the smaller the hook), 0, 1/0~10/0 (Steelhead, Salmon Flies, saltwater sizes)
    Generally, the size range for trout is 8 to 26.

On small hooks, the hook-up rates goes down exponentially with size. A solution is to use hooks with bigger gapes, like 2 sizes larger but 2xshort. Tie the flies sparse foreward toward the eye so the body does not close the hook gape.

This Hook Gape size table comes from Wayne Moore's Fly Tying Notes.
Gape Opening
Hook Size
Model Perfect
Mustad (9672,9671,94840,94842)
Mustad (3906,3906B)
Mustad (3865A,9575,36620)
69/32" 18/64"

The variety of fly tying material available today is endless and can be overwhelming if you are just getting started or trying a new pattern. Don't worry, the more different patterns you tie, the greater the range of materials you will come to know. In my opinion, the natural materials not only are durable and effective, but make for a more fishable fly. But, part of success is having fish spot your fly. The use of tinsel, gold wire, material tags are significant attractants.



Feathers and Feather Colors:


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