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Thread: ESSENTIAL FLY TYING STUFF - Readers cast (Neil M. Travis) - Dec 05, 2011

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Bothell, WA, USA
    Blog Entries

    Default ESSENTIAL FLY TYING STUFF - Readers cast (Neil M. Travis) - Dec 05, 2011


    If you were limited to just the essentials for tying flies what would make your list? That was my quandary as I prepared to close up our Montana home and head for our winter digs in Arizona. In previous winters I had not carried any fly tying stuff with me but this year I thought I might tie a few flies during those times when I wasn't otherwise engaged. I'm not the type that can sit around and watch TV or even just twiddle my thumbs, and when I find myself at loose ends I tend to fall asleep.

  2. #2


    Neil,since you ask...

    About 10 or so years ago when I became a snowbird I faced those issues. I have my own place down south so I chose to maintain two tying areas. Without going into specifics I will mention how I handled the materials issue.
    Some I just purchased duplicates but for most I split and took half with me. At first I would forget what I had where so I began labeling each with the name of my location...if it had a name on it it meant I had a duplicate at the other place.
    Re: feather pelts and some furs, etc. ...though I can see where one wouldn't want to...I split them in half.

  3. #3


    I think it would depend on the type of flies you tie. If you tye mostly drys the a couple of good necks, tailing material and dubbing. If s/h's then what ever material you may need there. It goes on for each style of fly. When I travel I take for good necks and tailing material. Partridge, starling and some hen necks. Thread you could get buy with black, white lt yellow and a olive. Hooks to match what you would tye. and two sets of dubbing. I like those little multi-compartment cubes. I have some seal, super fine, beaver and some nymph dubbing. CDC of various colors, elk and deer hair and some cheneil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    aimless wandering
    Blog Entries


    Since I only use a dozen patterns any more, the materials and supplies to tie those fits in a fairly small container, and the remainder of the tying stuff, to tie the thousands of patterns I do NOT use, sits at home.

    whip finisher
    bobbin for thread
    bobbin for weight wire
    copper wire (2 colors)
    olive and tan thread, orange kevlar thread
    lemon wood duck and gadwall flank
    dubbing in burnt orange, gray, and yellow
    chenille two colors
    hooks in about 6 sizes and styles
    5/32 black chrome beads
    .020 weight wire
    saddle hackle, grizz olive and grizz tan
    glo bug yarn
    foam for hoppers
    rubber legs for hoppers

    And that is about it for 99% of my fishing for the year.

  5. #5

    Lightbulb For the year 2011 ...

    ... I did very well with only eight or so dry fly patterns and a couple nymph patterns for well over one hundred days fishing moving water in the Northern Rockies.

    I expect to do about the same next year - FEB patterns for skwala, salmonfly, golden stone / hopper, and October caddis plus a couple small caddis, a small BWO, and a Griffith Gnat for dries from March through November. Several colors and sizes of rubber legs stonefly nymphs and a couple sizes of soft hackled pheasant tail nymphs will get me through the rest of the year.

    Several colors of antron yarn, a couple colors of closed cell foam, two or three variations of MFC centipede legs, and a patch or two of humpy deer hair will do for the big dries, add some BWO and caddis dubbing, CDL for BWO tailing and peacock herl for the gnats, and a couple sizes of grizzly hackle for the small dries.

    Nonlead weight, a couple medium cheniles, and rubber leg material for the big nymphs and some pheasant tails, copper wire ribbing, the peacock herl, and grizzly hen will do for the small nymphs.

    Just today, I "started over." I boxed up a bunch of materials that I had acquired since the last time I "started over" a few years ago that I haven't used hardly at all and don't expect to use and sent them off to BB member MTWFF in NE Montana to use in his fly tying classes for the Boy Scouts.


    P.S. Realizing, of course, that I might get a little crazy and want to do some coppery john nymphs or some drake or PMD dries or something equally exotic, I did hold onto a couple extra spools of ultrawire and an extra pack or two of dubbing. None of that UV stuff, though.
    The fish are always right.

  6. #6


    When I travel and tie, I like to focus on the most used patterns in my box, and the upcoming hatches. In this case it would be the Spring. I too use probably 95% natural materials when tying. Toss in a little bit of flash material for dubbbing, ribbing & whatnot.

    Here's what my list would look like:

    Dubbing assortments- Hareline Rabbit, Squirrel, Spectrablend, Ice-dub
    Hackle- Medium Dun neck, Cree neck, Brown Neck, Grizzly neck
    Brahma Hackle- Pale Yellow neck, Natural neck, Silver badger neck, Furnace neck
    CDL patches- Dark pardo, Ginger
    Hen Pheasant skin
    Partridge Skin
    Pheasant tail- Dark brown, Natural, Ginger
    Peacock Herl
    Ostrich Herl- Black & White
    Goose Biot- Dark Brown, Ginger, White
    Turkey Biot- Olive, Pale olive, Sulphur
    V-rib- (small) Olive, clear, brown
    Hair patches- Natural elk, bleached elk, coastal deer, Comparadun dark and light Dun, moose body
    CDC- Light dun, dark dun, tan, white, natural, olive
    Thread- assortment
    Uni-wire- (small) assortment
    Clear scud back
    Holographic tinsel- Gold and silver
    Tinsel- (medium) Gold/silver

    That's about it. That's actually what ties 90% of my patterns all year. LOL

  7. #7


    I think we should make this more interesting and say the supplies have to fit in a shoe box size container.This will force you to choose materials for patterns you treasure the most and have a high level of confidence in.This will take alot of thought on most of our parts.

  8. #8
    AlanB Guest


    Quote Originally Posted by hook549 View Post
    shoe box size container.
    That's generous. I do a traveling fly tier demo where it all fits in my shirt pocket!

    The rule is that I would have enough materials to tie a dozen of each of 12 patterns. It really does have it all! The way it works is that I use what I think of as "system patterns". For example, what species does a thorax dun represent? Any depending on the colours and size. Same thing goes for the PTN and many other flies.

    It is more a kit for a few days away, than one for half a year. Even so you could get enough for thousands of flies in a shoe box.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Beacon Falls, CT


    Considering my age and eyesight I would surely forget anything smaller than a size 16 hook and would definitely back off on the dry flies in deference to streamers. I would be trading fishing success for reduced frustration. Also it seems you might be limiting yourself to trout only.
    Last edited by Ray Kunz; 12-10-2011 at 08:10 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Livingston, Montana USA


    My article was intended to solicit some comment from our readers. The posts have illustrated that we are all individuals, and besides the obvious items like the vice, etc, each person has his or her own personal ideas of what is necessary.

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