We all have our favorite ‘when all else fails’ fly. But buying flies in bulk can get a little expensive.
Imagine having the ability to make your favorite fly your way, whenever you like.
Well, here’s the good news, you can.
The best fly tying kits don’t have to be expensive and may save you money in the long run. I’m going to help you and show you some great suggestions.
I’ve even included a handy buying guide to help you choose.
Let’s get tying!
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So I’ve just said that tying your own flies can save you money.
Here’s what I’m talking about. This setup is pretty good value, and if you are new to fly, tying offers you a one-stop solution to get you up and tying.
Here’s what you get.
In this handy carry pouch, you’ll find a vise, threader, scissors hackle pliers, and a whip finishing tool.
Oh, and I forgot to mention…
You also get a pattern book and some materials to get you off to a tying start! Considering that this is a budget option, that’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Granted, the tools and the vise are pretty bare-bones, but you don’t want anything too complex or expensive when you are just starting out as a beginner.
A full setup for a low price.
It is pretty basic, so there’s a high chance that you will outgrow it quickly.
As a simple and effective solution, this is a great little kit. It’s one of the best budget fly tying kits on my list. There’s also an instructional video offering a free fly tying lesson with each pack.
Maybe you don’t want budget and are looking for something that will keep you going for years.
Here’s the thing about me…
I love Orvis. They are specialists in fly fishing, and it shows. This fly tying kit is a prime example. When Orvis says ‘premium’, they mean premium!
What do I mean?
The tools are all super high quality, and they come in their own handy foam insert carry case. If this wasn’t enough, you also get a vise included as a part of the package. I’ll be upfront. This isn’t the cheapest package, but it’s still great value.
Because it comes with an absolute wealth of materials and an instruction book on how to 16 patterns. You’ll get 10 flies for each pattern, making a total of 160 flies! 160 flies and a tool kit to keep. That sounds like a deal to me!
The best bit is the patterns are all simple to tie, and they work. There’s nothing more satisfying than fooling a wary trout with something you assembled in your lounge!
Great quality, as you’d expect from Orvis.
The ability to tie 160 flies in patterns that do work.
The vise is a little basic, so if you want to upgrade, this could be costly.
I only expect the best from Orvis, and they deliver. This is great as a premium beginners fly tying package but would also suit a more experienced fly tyer. Basically, it is a good all-rounder.
Now here’s something just a little bit special. I don’t often deal in absolutes…
But I’m about to.
This is hands down the best fly tying tool kit on the market. As quality goes, there’s no competition. If you are looking for the highest quality fly tying kit on the market, you’ve found it.
Now let me be honest.
This isn’t cheap. But for the money, this will literally be your forever fly tying kit. You would need nothing more, and it will last a lifetime.
What makes it so good?
You won’t find brass and stainless steel here. What you will find, however, are aviation-grade aluminum tools engineered to astonishingly high tolerances. The moving parts are ceramically lined, giving frictionless precision. If other kits are tools, these are like surgical instruments.
For tying absolutely perfect patterns, this is the best kit, full stop. The tools come in their own carry case with a micro vise.
Why’s this good?
You can take it down to the river and tie your flies on the bank. It would easily fit in your fly fishing sling pack. (just don’t lose it!)
Super high quality and built to last a lifetime.
Complete accuracy in your patterns.
The only downside is the cost, which may be prohibitive for some.
If money is no object or you simply want the best straight off the bat, this is the kit for you. I can’t rate it highly enough.
Quality tools, a handy carry case, and it’s really easy to use. It’s refined and delicate. Just what you’ll want for tying those small midge patterns.
Well, you don’t want to miss this fly tying tool kit. In fact, you couldn’t as it is bright yellow! Whereas some manufacturers go for tiny and delicate, Loon has broken the mold and gone for substantial and chunky.
Does it make a difference?
Yes, in a good way. For beginners, the tools can often be a little fiddly. The chunky rubberized tools actually make it much easier to tie your favorite flies. The tools are high quality, really durable.
In a few words…
I love them!
One of my favorites is the whip finishing tool. You will get a solid and durable head on your fly in seconds. The hackle pliers come with Removeable attachments. This means you are actually getting a few ‘bonus’ tools that would require you to buy separately with other sets.
For beginners, this set is amazing. It has everything that you could need.
Superb quality and value.
Really easy to use.
This is minor, but the bobbin would only fit wider spools. I wish they’d made it smaller, and this would have been the perfect fly tying tool kit.
Loon makes some quality gear. This tool kit is one of my all-time favorites. It is one of the best fly tying kits for beginners out there. You wouldn’t regret purchasing this. Simply put, it shines.
When beginning a new hobby, you don’t want to go slow. You want to hit the ground running. This budget fly tying kit will allow you to do exactly that.
The kit comes with a rock-solid case, a vise, tools, materials, and even a handy DVD that will walk you through what to do when you get started.
There are some traditional patterns included in the provided booklet, along with a guide to some basic techniques that will get you set up to tie thousands of types of flies, literally.
Oh, and before I forget.
The vise is absolutely super! Rotary vises can set you back hundreds of dollars, so this is superb value for a beginner fly tying set.
You’ll be limited to tying wet flies to start off with. However, most entrants to fly fishing learn to fish with wet flies before dry, so this could be an ideal companion.
I love the extra tuition provided in the booklet and DVD.
The vise is great.
The tool kit is a little basic, meaning you might have to invest in more as you advance.
You know me, I love keeping things simple. This fly tying kit will get you set up in no time. It isn’t too advanced, and while I said it was a ‘con,’ I suppose the beginner doesn’t want complexity.
One of the best beginner fly tying kits on my list.
Fly Tying Kits Buying Guide
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you are looking into fly tying. Here’s what I am all about.
I want you to catch more fish.
It’s that simple. By tying your patterns your own way, you should be able to out-fish those with plain old shop-bought flies.
Are the trout looking for smaller flies? In 5 minutes, you’ll have tied one! Like the style but not the color? You’ve got the power in your hands to tie a range of the same fly with subtle differences.
But let me be upfront…
Fly tying is a skill and takes practice to get right. The last thing you need is to be discouraged by buying something that isn’t suitable.
So, I’ve assembled a quick buying guide to tell you what you need to be looking for.
A Good Fly Tying Vise
Ok, so I have included this first for a reason. Consider your vise to be essential. If you can get a high-quality vise as part of the package, then go for it! They are normally expensive when bought on their own.
Your fly tying success hangs on it. Literally.
The vise grips the hook. If the hook moves or slips, then the best tying kit in the world won’t save you. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to do some delicate and fine work, only for the hook to move at the last second, and your latest ‘killer’ fly is ruined.
You may have noticed with some of our sets above that a vise isn’t included. This allows you to create a custom tool kit, where you’ll have high-quality tools and a vise that you have picked.
If you haven’t seen a vise you like, maybe check out my handy guide just here. I’ve got some great suggestions.
Easy to Handle Fly Tying Tools
Here’s what my grandmother used to say to me when I made flies as a boy…
“you could be a surgeon”… Thanks Ma!
The reason for this is that tying flies is super fiddly. You don’t need life to be made any harder with tools that are equally as fiddly. Want to see how delicate it goes?
Check this guy out.
Pick a fly tying kit that makes it easy when you are just starting out. Anything with knurled grip or even thick and chunky is a good thing.
There’s plenty of time to go for finer sets and specialized micro tools once you get the basics down.
Fly tying is an art.
But it is also a balancing act. You’ll want a fly tying kit that gives friction when you need it (like with hackle pliers and bobbins) but also is smooth to use… I hate when my tying thread gets cut by rough edges in cheap bobbins.
Stainless steel is pretty frictionless, but the best fly tying tools will have features such as ceramic inserts for the smoothest experience.
For the tools requiring a bit of grip, look for rubber inserts and strong clips.
When it comes to fly tying kits, some are definitely better than others. When you start fly tying, you’ll realize one thing…
There is a lot of repetitive action. As a result, cheaper, low-quality sets can start to fail after a little while.
My first ever fly tying bobbin broke after a couple of weeks. The end where the cotton paid out suddenly developed a sharp edge – bad times. Check here to see what I’ve learned when buying the best fly tying bobbins.
Higher quality sets might cost a little more. Still, when you consider that they will last longer, it is actually a good economy. You’ll have to replace the tools less frequently (and some will last forever).
Portability and Storage
So you’ll have noticed that most of the tools are small.
Do you know what happens to small things?
They get lost!
It would be a real shame to invest in a good fly tying kit, only to lose your favorite scissors or hackle pliers. The key is suitable storage.
Here’s what I look for.
Try and find a fly tying tool kit with an included carry case. It keeps all of your tools together. One feature I really like is foam inserts with a cutout for each tool. This keeps them newer and safer. If you lump your tools together, you are going to end up with them being damaged.
Fly tying scissors are one of your most essential tools. It is heartbreaking when you try to use them and realize that you have caused a massive chip in the blades due to improper storage. Fly tying scissors aren’t rough and ready. They are fragile and rather delicate.
If you are in the market for a new pair of scissors for fly tying, I’ve done some of the hard work, so you don’t have to. Here’s my fly-tying scissors guide.
Cost of Your Fly Tying Tools
So let’s be real…
The cost of your fly tying tools is normally what dictates what a beginner will consider when buying.
But I’ve got some advice, and I’ve said it before.
Buy cheap, buy twice.
A cheap set might be nice to start off with, but you’ll quickly find that you want finer and better tools as your skills progress. The higher quality tools tend to cost just a little more, and there’s a reason for this… They work better.
Cost is important, but it is better to go to the upper end of your budget and get something that is great quality than to go cheap to find that you will need an upgrade or replacement in no time.
Should I Buy a Fly Tying Kit or Tools Separately?
Ah, that’s a tough one!
But here’s my answer…
Considering all of the factors above, look at what you are trying to achieve. Are you wanting an all-in-one solution to get you started? If so, then a full kit (including the vise and materials) would be a great option.
Alternatively, are you looking to embark on fly tying as a serious hobby? You might get better value if you purchase a really high-quality vise and a set of tools separately, and then you never need to upgrade.
If you still aren’t sure what you will need, then I’m here to help. Why not head on over to my fly tying for beginners guide, and you’ll be able to get a really good idea of what it’s all about, then come back here and look again.
Your choice of fly tying tools is important. Tools should make the job easier, not harder.
The best fly tying kits will allow you to tie thousands of fly patterns exactly to your liking with ease. I think that for an initial outlay, thousands of flies sounds like a really sweet deal.
Have you tried tying flies before? What’s your favorite ‘secret’ pattern?