Quick Tip #1:
I have known some great fly tiers. One in particular was a perfectionist. He would not use a fly unless it was perfect. One tip he gave me was not to use scissors to cut the thread as it would leave a small tag which could be seen. Instead he used a straight blade of some sort such as an X-acto knife for a clean cut. (This is NOT the tip yet.) So I got an X-acto knife and used it for years. One day I was tying and I reached for some material. As I did something began to roll off my desk. I closed my legs to catch it, and I did. Unfortunately it was the X-acto knife. Four stitches later I was as good as new and a little wiser. Since then I have switched to a cuticle remover to cut thread. It works perfectly and is SAFE.
Quick Tip #2:
When showing a friend how to tie some parachutes dry flies, he was having a very difficult time splaying the tail fibers and keeping them splayed. A very simple fix is to use a loop of thread (or any other small diameter material) at the bend of the hook. Pull it from bend through the tail fibers to split them. To split the tail in half, run the thread evenly between the fibers. Then tie down the excess thread and you have a perfectly split tail.
Please note there are 3 tail fibers in this example. When you go to split 3 fibers, you pull the thread such that your loop straggles the center fiber.
Quick Tip #3:
The 1st is for those who on occasion feel a little pain when tying any fly with a stinger hook. By utilizing a small magnet you can keep the stinger hook out of your way. The magnets can be purchased at most home improvement or craft stores. The size of the magnet is up to you. I personally like the 3/8 of an inch circular rare earth magnets, as they have a very strong magnetic field.
The picture below illustrates how I used to tie intruder type flies. But after 10-20 times catching the stinger hook, something needed to change.
By utilizing a small magnet, you are able to keep the stinger out of the way. Please note, I have found trapping the stinger hook between the vise and magnet works great.
Quick Tip #4:
This next tip/trick can be used to change the look of dry as well as soft hackle type flies. With so many social media platforms, people are posting some truly beautiful flies. I have been asked how people can post pictures of flies with all the hackle fibers aligned so perfectly. Well, there are two reasons. One is to practice/tie a lot. Second, they are using different techniques to get a desired look. Below are two ways to hackle dry flies (And there are many more ways then these two approaches.)
The 1st method is just a typical way to hackle a dry fly. In this method, I have the dull side facing me.
The extra space on the hackle is there so that with your 1st wrap of the hackle you do not trap any fibers forcing them to go towards the rear of the fly. Each successive wrap is wrapped in front of the previous wrap.
As you can see the hackle fibers are evenly spaced without any major problem.
Quick Tip #5:
Usually, with trout flies, I tie between 6-18 flies of a specific pattern; so, material prep is a key factor in how consistent the flies are and how fast I get them tied. Recently, I was tying a bunch of “prince nymph” style flies for an upcoming trip. As I was preparing my biots for 24 “prince nymph” type flies, I decided to share this little trick I learned 40 plus years ago when I was a member of the California Fly Fishermen Unlimited club.
Managing biots on the quill can be a real pain sometimes. A simple solution is to wrap the biot around some sort of a dowel. You can use anything from a pen/pencil to a small steel rod. I attach the base of the quill to the rod with UV glue and then wrap it around the dowel. At the end of the quill, I use UV glue to attach it to the dowel. (You can attach the quill to the dowel in a number of ways… from using tying thread to o-rings.)
As you can see in the photos, the biots are splayed out. Now it is extremely easy to select the individual biots.
Two methods of attachment, UV glue and o-rings, are shown.
Quick Tip #6:
This next tip is about using a smart phone for improved photos of your master pieces. Today’s smart phones, which are remarkable pieces of equipment, enable anyone to be a good photographer! Having said that, here are a couple of ways to improve your pictures of the flies you tie.
A Suggestion – Purchase a vblog (aka vlog- video log) light, ranging in price from $10 to $100+. They make life easier to capture great pics. Here is my reasoning.
Photography is nothing more than managing light. (There is a little more than that; but, in simplest terms, if you control the light you will take great photos.) In an effort to control this light, before I started to use a blog light, I had to:
Work at developing an optimum light condition.
Move my vise to “stage” the photo.
Make sure the camera, light and subject matter were in predetermined positions (#1 above).
Then, move the vise to my fly tying table- if I were doing a step by step series on tying a particular fly.
Above is my “stage”. Please note there are a lot of parts to this: a background, a light source, reflectors on the right and left of the fly to control shadows and brighten the subject, mirrors underneath the provide some backlighting.
My setup for using a vblog light.
All I do is put the blog light in front of my vise and take a picture. The light source is in a ring configuration, providing a fairly even illumination of the subject. It takes about 1 minute to take a picture. The vblog light helps the camera to optimize the setting before taking a picture.
The image of the left was taken with a vblog light source while the one on the right was taken with “my stage” setup. Both photos received the same editing process. There was minimal software editing on both pictures. You can certainly spend time on editing the picture on the left. ( I was never able to get it to be as clear or as sharp as the blog light pic)
The fly above was tied by Harry Lemire and was one of his “fishing flies”
(All pictures for these articles were taken with a cell phone utilizing a vblog light source)