Random Review of Fly Tying tools, materials and gear – August 2017

Random selection of fly tying tools and gear that I regularly use and endorse.

Random selection of fly tying tools and gear that I regularly use and endorse.

For the record, I’ve been thinking about reviewing a bunch of fly fishing related items for quite some time.  I wanted to share my appreciation for a wide variety of products that I use on a regular basis.

I will say more about some of these products than about others. My point here is simply to list several of the products and say a little (or a little more) about each.

Are the products I use better than others currently available?

Although a few might be, more likely, these are simply decent products that I have found agreeable to my personal tying skill and experience. I am fortunate to be able to tie with a very wide assortment of tools, materials, and hooks. Some of these please me greatly, some do not.

I decided to simply browse my tying bench, grab a fair number of items I have been using lately, lay them out on the floor, take a photo, and get on with my review, providing links to the products so that the reader currently unfamiliar with each could easily check them out in the catalog.

Please excuse the madness of this post. Best I can do today. Now here goes.

I will make my way generally from upper Left to lower right.

1. Craft Fur Brushes
2. Steve Farrar’s blend
3. opal mirage lateral scale
4. Zap A Gap
5. Gamakatsu SL 12S
6. Loon UC Clear Fly Finish Thick
7. Fluorocarbon tippet by Hatch and Rio
8. Regal fly tying vise, with magnum jaws
9. ProSportfisher Classic tube
10. Hareline Alaska Brass Cones
11. Petitjean Long Loop TRr Scissors
12. OPST Dubbing Twister
13. Loon Ergo Bodkin
14. Loon razor scissors 4″
15. C&F rotary hackle Pliers
16. NorVise Clutch Bobbin

1. EP craft fur brushes: With a stainless steel wire core, these brushes are available in a dizzying number of colors. I use the white/white for baitfish bellies. You can use these brushes to create baitfish bodies, finishing collars, wet fly hackles, and more. The Craft fur brushes may be the easiest to use, but it is well worth the time of all tyers who craft large fresh and saltwater flies to check these out. Brushes are composed of natural and synthetic materials and incorporate various amounts of flash.

2. Farrar’s Flash Blend and Farrar’s UV blend. This material is the most delightful and frustrating I regularly use for tying baitfish wings. The delight comes from a great array of color choices, the blending of several colors (e.g., bleeding mackerel, bleeding black), and the incorporation of flash into the materials. Some of these colors make the most spectacular baitfish style flies in my box.

The frustration I have with these materials involves the fact that the basic texture varies depending on the color and over time. For example, the texture of Fl chartreuse Farrar’s blend has varied over time. The material I purchased two weeks ago is head and shoulders “better” than it was a year ago. Color is better, texture is better, and the flies I tie are better. My assertion that the material is now better is of course a subjective evaluation

3. Lateral Scale: This is my favorite flash material for everything from steelhead flies, salmon clousers, to saltwater flies.

4. Zap A Gap: simple and dependable glue. Super tough. Helps make your flies super durable. Be careful how you use this stuff.

5. Gamakatsu SL 12S hooks: my favorite all round saltwater and estuary fly hook, I will be reviewing these in a separate post. From #2 to #8/0 these are a very nice balance of hook wire diameter, sharp points, saltwater safe finish, and strength in a fly hook.

6. Loon UC Clear Fly Finish (Thick): Now that Cure Goo is out of the picture, I have considerable experience with this new Loon UV cure and really like it. The Thick version has a consistency that is easy to work with when making heads on large saltwater fly heads.

7. Fluorocarbon tippet by Hatch and Rio: I find myself fishing fluorocarbon leaders more often than not. I fish both Hatch and Rio Fluorocarbon material and find both brands are entirely reliable, tough leaders.

8. Regal fly tying vise, with magnum jaws: withoug goint into detail, I tie on two vises, the NORVISE and the REGAL. I prefer the REGAL when tying large saltwater flies, because I like the way I can slowly rotate the head of the regal vise while forming UV cure heads on big flies. I need the Magnum jaws for my very large hooks on heavy wire.Regal vises are absolutely dependable, hold hooks well, and I’m confident that the REGAL and the NORVISE will perform for every tyer.

9. ProSportfisher Classic tube: I use this tube when tying tube Intruders because it is PERFECTLY suited to rigging hooks on a mono loop. I tie my fly on the tube (note that I can cut my tube to any length I wish) and then to rig the hook, I slip it into a mono loop and pull the loop knot into the rear of the tube to secure it. This tube material will not crack in cold temperatures, can be cut to any length, and does not require a separate hook holder. This tube is available in different colors and diameters from a micro to a magnum.

10. Hareline Alaska Brass Cones: These are big and bad heavy cones. These are the ONLY cones I have found that I can use on both tubes and hooks. The cone is PERFECT for use on the PRO SPORTFISHER Classic Tubes. It is also perfect to slip over most of the heavy saltwater hooks I tie on.

11. Petitjean Long Loop Trim Scissors: These are absolutely fantastic specialty scissors that I would not like to be without. There are so many situations where I need a long straight scissor blades. This includes working with tying Intruders, trimming saltwater materials and so forth.

12. OPST Dubbing Twister: heavy duty and dependable. I love mine. Bet you will love yours too.

13. Loon Ergo Bodkin: I once thought that bodkins were all alike. Not so. I LOVE the handle on this bodkin. I can hold this tool while I am winding on a composite dubbing loop.

14. Loon razor scissors 4“: I have tied with Dr. Slick razor scissors for years. I have recently tied with these Loon razor scissors and LOVE them. I like the yellow rubber finger loops. It is POSSIBLE that these Loon scissors are sharper and hold an edge better than the DR.slick scissors. I am not sure. This is possible, I think they are but dang this is a close call. At present I think I like these are a tiny bit better, and think it is worth your while to check these LOON scissors. Just sayin’.

15. C&F Hackle Pliers: I have written about this product before, but I am still so enamored with the ability of these pliers to hold everything from hackles to dubbing loops to marabou, to craft fur brushes – that I felt motivated to mention them again. Great product.

16. NorVise Clutch Bobbin: Great automatic bobbin, if you have not used one of these gizmos you should try it. One thing you will need to get used to is making sure the thread does not retract into the tube when you finish your fly and cut the thread. This will require you to re-thread the bobbin and it quite irritating. If you are tying with NORVISE you will just secure your thread/bobbin on the thread post, but if you are tying on another vise you will just need to strip out 12″ or so of thread before setting the bobbin down on your bench. It took me a few days to get accustomed to this process but when I did, this bobbin revolutionized my tying.

I hope these ideas help you find the tools, materials, and gear you most prefer from the Fly Tying industry.

Jay Nicholas August, 2017

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