Of course this is an opinion piece and based on my personal experience – there is little in the way of objective data to guide one on this topic, unless of course one simply looked at total sales numbers for each and every possible fly tying thread type, and how much fun is that?
I started out by looking around my own fly bench to survey the threads I am using, given that I tie trout, steelhead, salmon, and for all sorts of finny critters in fresh and salt water environs. Anyway, I thought it might be fun for my own thinking organization and as a matter of offering some possibly new thoughts to other fly tyers to write this post.
Naturally, if you, the blog reader, ties only small dry flies or only giant billfish flies, this article will miss the mark by a long shot.
But if you are an artist of widely varying taste, one who is likely to experiment in the types of flies you will tie, this article just might be helpful and at the very least might open up possibilities to try something new.
So – in no particular order, here is my nomination for seven threads that I regularly use at my bench, including note of why I might reach for one versus the other at any given point in time.
Danville’s 210 Denier Flat Waxed Nylon – This thread is strong and sticky and very well suited to many flies that require attaching a lot of materials with little worry about the potential for adding bulk, and actually this tread is desirable if you want to build up the head on a fly. I use this for all of my Clousers and for many traditional wet steelhead flies.
Veevus 150 D GSP – This is a thread I resisted using for decades, but have finally come to realize just how useful it is when tying very large spun deer hair flies and using bucktail to craft hollow flies. The material takes some getting comfortable with, it is SLIPPERY beyond belief and requires finesse to cut with scissors, but it has no equal when it is necessary to really bear down and pull on the thread to secure or spin materials on a hook. I have tried finer and stouter GSP and for now at least prefer the 150 D for of my spinning on flies larger than *6 but would suggest 100D for #8 and smaller hooks.
Danville’s 70 D Flymaster - This is a thread I used for decades with absolute confidence and satisfaction – then I drifted off to tie with newer more modern threads and this gem lay untouched in the back corners of my bench. Two years ago I remembered how pleasant this thread is to work with and decided to try it again. Home run! The thread is available in a zillion colors, is very slightly waxed (I think) lays flat, has just a little stretch, actually the perfect amount of stretch. This is a PERFECT thread for general fly tying in sized of about #8 to #20.
Ultra Thread 70 & 150 D – This is another thread I used a lot of and forgot about when i was experimenting with more modern threads. Like the Danville’s FlyMaster, this UTC thread is super versatile, comes in dynamite colors, lays flat and has a little stretch. Main difference I can tell is that this UTC is slick, has no hint of wax, and the colors have a sheen you will not find on the Flymaster. For micro collars on Euro Nymphs, you will find it difficult to find better thread for the color spots!
Lagartun X-Strong 95D & 150D - This is my fancy thread when I am looking for the strongest flattest laying threads for tying small heads on my steelhead wet flies. The Lagartun X-Strong color palate is more limited that Ultra Thread, but it is stronger and will lay flat flat flat and if you want super slick smooth heads this is your stuff.
Veevus 10/0 – Veevus is my go-to thread when I tie very small flies and am most concerned with thread build up. I am not as fond of the color palate offered by Veevus when compared to Danville or UTC, but if I want a “round” thread to grip slick materials onto the hook, and if I want strength versus diameter – this thread is super satisfying to use. I will use anywhere from 8/0 to 12/o Veevus threads, and some tyers prefer Veevus for all of their tying.
Danville’s Monofilament Fine – It may be the case that mono threads are only or mostly useful to saltwater tyers, but this stuff is versatile and stronger than I ever imagined, and I now find that I like to use this fine mono thread for a wide variety of my freshwater flies as well. Keep in mind that this mono is slick, but it is stretchy and fun to work with. Like GSP, this is a specialized thread you might not use often – but I suggest that your tying skills will be advanced if you experiment with this on some of the flies you tie all the time.
Why not mention Uni Thread? Simple. I never got around to tying with Uni Thread. My friends tease me about this and remind me that Uni makes great threads and tinsels for starters and the price point is very good as well. So Let’s be clear that my failure to mention Uni is a random element of my experience. Might just go out and tie with Uni for the next 6 months to give it a fair trial!
General guidance on color palates?
Danville’s 210 Denier Flat Waxed Nylon – Emphasis on white, fl. Chartreuse, fl. Blue, and Black.– consider adding fl pink, fl orange.
Veevus GSP – White, white, and white.
Danville’s Flymaster 70D – emphasis on pale subdues colors including burnt orange, pale yellow, Adams grey, olive, brown — and then add fl chartreuse and fl hot orange.
Ultra Thread – Emphasis on bright colors including red, yellow, green and orange.
Veevus 10/0 – Emphasis on black, claret, olive, grey, brown, and olive.
Lagartun X-Strong – Emphasis on black, red, orange, green.
Danville’s Monofilament – Clear, clear, and more clear.
I hope this has been helpful.
Jay Nicholas – Autumn 2019