September Fly of the Month - Tools, Tips and Tricks
I hope you are all enjoying the Fly of the Month topic and getting inspired to take to the bench and try tying or get back into tying (like me!).
That said, I had a "duh" moment! I assumed you already knew many of the basics and didn't focus much on beginners. So, this is for you, both beginners and those of you that need a bit of a refresher, or maybe you seasoned tyers may pick up a tip or two! I'm going to try and demonstrate with large scale string and feathers where I can for better clarity.
So let's start with the most basic and probably most important knot, the half hitch. Make this knot your best friend! If you're a beginner, use it every time you tie in and off of a material. This way if you break or accidently cut your thread you can go back to your last step and start from there and not the whole fly. And it's super simple.
Using two fingers, take your thread and make a crossover loop.
Pass this loop over the eye of the hook and tighten it over your material, making at least two to secure, that's it!
You can do as many of these knots as you think necessary, but two will usually suffice to secure your material.
There's also a half hitch tool which can be handy when making this knot over spun materials, such as deer hair. Just slip the hole over the eye of the hook and slide your knot over the tool. This one has two different sized ends for large and small eye hooks.
Whip finisher. I had a love-hate with this tool, until I learned how to use it properly! This is used to make the final finish knot to your fly. It helps make a nice conical head and secures your last half hitch with several wraps of thread behind the eye.
Start with placing the thread over the bend of the tool and placing your thread behind the hook. This tool spins, so it's handy to put a finger tip on the end of it to keep it in place until your ready.
Let the tool spin away from you, catching that line and bringing the main end of the thread up, making a triangle.
Bring the tool up and over your hook, cathching the main line under and inserting the eye of the hook into that triangle (it's kind of like cats cradle!)
Take as many wraps as you like, pulling some more main thread with the bend in the tool. Be sure to get the eye through the triangle each time and building up th head. Keep in mind, the more wraps or the thicker the line, the harder it can be to pull that thread, but the tool is a bit flexible.
Once you are done, slide the thread over the loop part of the tool, keeping tension on the hook (this is where some flexing of the tool may help). Pull your main line, all the while keeping tension on the hook and closing that loop. When it's flush with your fly hook, slide the hook of the tool out and give a little tug on the line to snug it.
This is probably the most challenging tool to use, but once you get the hang of it you're going to want to use it all the time. Practice on a large hook to build your confidence before using it on a small dry fly.
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