Welcome to Beginning Fly Tying

Basic Fly Tying Kit for a Christmas Gift
(or any other neat opportunity)

By Al Campbell

I've been getting a lot of requests for information on what to include in a basic kit to begin fly tying. Several of the inquiries were for Christmas gift ideas. Hmmm, let me see, what would I want in a kit? It isn't that hard, I already designed the kit the company I work for sells. I'll only have to modify it a little to accommodate the fly tying series I'm doing here on FAOL. I'd like to thank Bob Fairchild, the tying instructor for the Alaska Fly Fishers for his input and help with this.

Since most of the requests ask me to name the brands to buy, I'll include suggested brands in the following list. This doesn't mean other brands won't work, just that these are the brands I'd include in any kit I designed.

So, here goes, the basic kit to begin fly tying.


  • Vise - Griffin Superior 2A (about $42) or if you can afford it, a Griffin 3ARP (about $80).

    Griffin Superior 2A

  • Several bobbins, ceramic bobbins from Griffin or Tiemco would be nice (about $17 each)


  • At least one, hopefully two pair of good scissors, Griffin or Dr. Slick.


  • At least one, two is better, hackle pliers. First would be a midge style; second, a Griffin rotating hackle plier.

    Hackle Pliers

  • A Matarelli style whip finisher (about $12). If you can afford it, add a Thompson style one as soon as possible.

    Whip Finishers
  • Bobbin threader and a set of hackle guards (Griffin makes these too.).

    Threader and Hackle Guards

  • Griffin Hair stacker and bodkin. (Griffin bullet head tools are nice too.)

    Hair Stacker


  • Hooks - An assortment of dry (size 12 to 16),

    Dry Fly Hook

    wet (size 12 to 16),

  • Wet Fly Hook

    streamer (1x and 2x long, size 6 to 12),

    Streamer Hook

    scud (size 12 to 16),

    Scud Hook

    nymph (size 8 to 16),

    Nymph Hook

    Mustad, Eagle Claw, or Tiemco.

    Eagle Claw Hooks

    Mustad Hooks

  • Hackle - At least brown and grizzly dry fly hackle. You can buy Metz and Hoffman necks as half and half, brown and grizzly. If you can, dun, black and cream are good colors too. (Aprox $35 per neck, #3)

    Grizzly Neck

  • Dubbing - Anglers Choice silk dubbing or a good dry fly dubbing selection for dry flies,

    Silk Dubbing

    and some coarse dubbing for nymphs (any good nymph blend dubbing box would work.)

    Dubbing Box

  • Pheasant tail feathers, peacock herl, turkey flats and tail feathers, and several colors of marabou (especially black, brown and olive).

    Pheasant Tail Feather

    Turkey Tail Feather

    Peacock Feather

  • Thread - Gudebrod selection, especially black, brown, red, olive, cream and orange, 6/0 and 3/0.

    Gudebrod Thread

  • Ribbing wire - copper, silver and gold.

  • Floss - Angler's Choice super floss in assorted colors, especially red, yellow and black.

    Super Floss

  • Head cement - Anglers Choice thin soft body, or Griffin thin coat.

  • Deer, elk and moose body hair.

  • Some brand of body lace, Anglers Choice body stuff, v-rib, Larva-Lace, etc.

    Body Lace

  • Pearl, gold and silver tinsel. (You can get this stuff as a tree decoration and use it for tying after you take the tree down.)

  • Gold, silver and/or black beads, assorted sizes.

  • A string of craft beads in pearl and black plastic for nymph eyes. Gold bead chain for light switches is good too.

  • Rabbit fur strips (zonker strips) in assorted colors.

  • Calf tail and body hair, assorted colors, especially white.

  • Squirrel tail, especially fox or red squirrel. (For tying my famous SHWAPF.)

  • If you can find some, a variety of punch embroidery yarn. This you will have to look in craft stores for. (Also a prime ingredient for the SHWAPF.)

  • There will be other things to buy, and I know you can't get all of this stuff at one time, but this should be a good start. The tools are of primary concern and need to be in any basic kit.

    If you need to limit it, just buy the tools and let the person receiving the kit buy the materials as needed. If you need to trim the materials to a few "must have" items, be sure to include hooks, thread, hackle, herl, dubbing and a squirrel tail.

    You should be able to get these items at your local fly shop if you have one near by. For those of you who need or want to shop by mail, you will find all you need at Hook and Hackle or Angler's Supply House (E. Hille).

    If you want to add one more thing to the list, a coffee grinder or blender for dubbing would be a nice touch. ~ Al Campbell

    Beginning Fly Tying

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