When creating a fly, it is how it is finished that makes the end result so much more worthwhile.
After going to all the effort to tie a killer fly, you don’t want your presentation ruined with a poor finish.
Neatness and straightness rely on one thing, the ability to trim your fly to your liking, and for that, you will need the best fly tying scissors that you can get your hands on.
I’ve got some suggestions for you and a quick rundown of what goes into a pair of fly-tying scissors.
Let’s cut to the chase.
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Dr. Slick is one of the premium brands when it comes to fly-tying scissors.
I really like these.
The blades are wide but narrow down quickly to a point, and they feel well balanced in hand. The finish also looks high quality. The scissors are a blend of steel and brass, giving excellent durability and cutting properties.
Let me tell you…
There is sharp, and then there is seriously sharp. These scissors are the latter and will make light work of pretty much any material in your vise.
One great feature is the ability to loosen and tighten the blades chopping action as you see fit. Just turn the brass screw to your liking.
The wide blades are great, but they make fine work a little tricky.
What can I say? These are great fly tying scissors! The adjustable tension means that they only cut when you want them to, so no mistakes!
Ok, you want premium quality, and you want the best?
It’s alright. I get it.
So take a look at these. They aren’t budget-friendly, but what they are is awesome. The scissors are of three-piece construction and absolutely bullet-proof.
The scissors are forged from AISI stainless steel, which means that they will be extremely slow to dull and will remain sharp for a long time. They offer precision when cutting your materials, aided by the taper to an extremely fine point.
The wide loops of the handles make them easy to pick up and put down. The pivot screw is placed quite a distance from the finger ring giving a little leverage when cutting thicker material.
Beautiful looking minimalist design.
Stainless steel stays sharper for longer.
They aren’t wallet-friendly.
Sometimes people just want the best, and if you aren’t concerned with budget, you won’t find a nicer pair of fly-tying scissors.
I’ve already mentioned Dr. Slick. But these are a little different.
These finishing scissors look more like shears. The key difference is that they are spring-loaded to remain open when not in use.
If you are cutting the tails on big streamers or want to trim a deer hair body down to size, you’ll need something a little bigger. These scissors are it.
The 410 Japanese stainless steel used in the blades is of the same type as is found in the best kitchen knives and will cut through a wire and thread. In fact, they’ll even cut through hooks if you aren’t careful. Fly tying hooks can be really fine, don’t believe me? See for yourself.
And the best bit?
These finishing scissors for fly tying can be picked up and used one-handed, making them ideal if you are holding materials in place on your fly with your left hand.
One-handed operation, perfect for fly tying.
The blades are spring-loaded open, which might not work if they get hair stuck in them.
Although slightly alternative, these could be just what you need if you have struggled with regular fly tying scissors.
Ah, good old Orvis, is there anything in fly fishing that they don’t make?
These scissors look and feel beautiful. One feature that I really like is the small ‘button’ between the finger rings. It stops you from pushing the scissors too close together, giving you a ‘pinch’ instead of a cut.
Orvis has been kind enough to include a tension knob on the pivot point. Twinned with this, they have created blades that are micro-serrated, giving a superb cutting action.
The gold handles are really easy to see on your workbench too.
Great cutting action.
The blades are a little wide and aren’t great for close-in, delicate work.
For the money, these are great scissors. They’ll do the job well, and if you look closely, they aren’t too dissimilar from the Dr. Slick scissors higher up my list. Your choice!
Fly Tying Scissors Buying Guide
So scissors are scissors, right?
You will find a marked difference in performance depending on which you choose. But how do you choose?
I’m going to show you what I look for in a pair of fly tying scissors:
Softer metals aren’t necessarily bad in blades. They can normally be sharpened to a finer edge.
But, and it’s a big but…
Softer metals go blunt quicker, and they are more prone to chips and notches. So my advice to you is this. Pick a pair that will stay sharper for longer.
You can ensure this by choosing harder blade materials. Alloys such as stainless steel and hardened carbide will hold an edge almost indefinitely, provided that you don’t cut anything ridiculous like thick wire.
If you do find your scissors are losing their edge, all is not lost. Here’s a great video on how to sharpen your scissors. Mind your fingers!
Smooth vs Serrated
Are you going to ask me to pick?
Ok, then, my answer is serrated!
And here’s why… Smooth blades are great when they are new and sharp, but over time, as they get dull, they tend to cause the material to ‘slide’ along the cutting surface before they cut. As a result, you may find you get less than perfect edges on your flies.
I don’t like less than perfect edges on my flies.
Serrated blades trap fibers on contact and ensure an even cut.
Again this is personal, but I like to get my hand close to the work that I’m doing. It makes things much neater and more accurate. Go too short, and you’ll lose cutting power.
So here’s what I suggest…
Work in the region of scissors that are around the 3-5” mark. These offer a great compromise and will be really easy to use.
Why would you need to focus on looks with scissors? Aren’t they all the same?
First, you want the blades’ tips to be nice and visible, then you can see where you are cutting. Second, and you’ll have seen me mention it in my product list. When you are tying a lot of flies, you will want to save time. Part of that process is being able to easily locate your tools.
If you pick a dull pair of scissors, it can sometimes be hard to spot them on your work surface. I really like brightly colored scissors, so I can put my hand to them without too much searching.
You’ll have noticed in my above suggestions that several sets of fly tying scissors have a tension adjustment. This is great as it allows you to vary the finger and thumb pressure needed to make a cut.
Why is this a good thing?
Well, you don’t want to accidentally ‘activate’ the cutting motion of the scissors in the wrong place, so by adding a little resistance, you can perfectly optimize how hard you need to squeeze when you are ready.
Blade width is a little bit of a personal choice.
Me? I like to go as thin and as fine as possible.
If you are working on bigger flies, like streamers, then a wide blade is better for cutting through piles of feathers like maribou. I prefer tying smaller midge-like patterns and find a wide blade often crushes the feathers around the area that I am trying to cut.
If you pick fine blades, you can cut both small and big flies. If you go wide, you are limiting your options. None of the above suggestions are overly wide, but I wouldn’t choose any that were much wider.
More to scissors than you first thought? Bearing in mind how much you’ll be using them, it pays to get the best fly tying scissors you can afford…