How to tie flies

Thousands of patterns exist for dry and wet flies, bucktails, and streamers. (For the differences, see Flyfzshing.) Some are realistic imitations of living things; others are fanciful creations. The dry trout fly shown, called Grizzly Wulff, imitates a mayfly. It is designed to stay afloat in fast water.

A fly’s body is made by wrapping fine thread around a hook, incorporating the tail, wings, and other parts as you go; it is often adorned with fur, floss, or tinsel. The tail and wings are usually the tips of feathers, but animal hair or yarn may also be used. The hackle, usually a feather from a rooster’s neck, is stiff and bushy in a dry fly, long and wispy in a wet one. The head is of thread, wrapped and lacquered.

To start, you’ll need a miniature vise, hackle pliers that open when squeezed, tweezers, fine-pointed scissors, bobbins for holding thread, and an awl-like dubbing needle for fine work. Supplies include hooks in several sizes, from No. 16 (small) to No. 6 (large); bits of feather, fur, hair, and yarn; mylar tinsel; thread; tier’s wax; and head lacquer. Buy a beginner’s set and add more as needed. Making a Grizzly Wulff (1) Wrap the shank of the hook with waxed thread; add a tail of deer hair by wrapping the base. (2) Use a larger bunch of hair for the wings; cut off the extra and wrap. (3) Push the wing hair upright, divide it into two bunches, and crisscross the thread between them. (4) Tie in the bases of one brown and one grizzly hackle feather; then wrap the body with pale-yellow ‘floss. Wind the hackle feathers several times around the body in front of and behind the wings, separating the fibers with a needle. Wrap the head; lacquer it and the body. foam that is at least 4 inches thick.