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Tools for Fly Tying

Fly Tying Equipment such as Tying Table, Scissors, Vise, Hackle Pliers, Needle


One of the most popular questions I get as About’s guide on fly fishing is “what tools do I need for fly tying?”

While there’s a wide range of fly tying equipment and accessories you can use, here’s a rundown of the top 10 tools you need for tying flies:

Magnifier Lamp

I’ll start with one of the most overlooked tools, a magnifier lamp. I like to think I have pretty good eyesight, but I have a hard enough time threading tippet through the eye of my hooks. Tying flies is a whole new ballgame, and if you can’t see what you’re tying, you’re wasting your time … and patience.

Tying Table

Along with the lamp, you need a nice, wide, clean table to spread out all of your tools and hackle/hair. Organization is a big part of fly tying. And you also need plenty of room and a flat, ergonomic place to work. Because if you’re not comfortable when you tie, the whole process isn’t very fun at all.


Well, first off you’re going to need a good pair of scissors. And we’re not talking your mom’s sewing sheers either. You need fine, fly-tying scissors made with sharp blades but are small enough to work on your tiniest, most intricate flies.


Like your table, it’s critical that your vise is reliable and strong. If the vice is shaky, so are your hands … and your flies for that matter. Make sure your vise is capable of steadily holding your largest flies, but your smallest, most intricate ones as well.

Hackle Pliers

These odd-shaped pliers really come in handle, griping hackle and other material without damaging it. Because these pliers will get a lot of use, consider picking up a pair that’s coated with rubber or silicon on the jaws.

Bobbin Holder

A bobbin holder, while somewhat odd, can help reduce waste and by preventing rats nests and unraveling.

Dubbing Needle

Another odd tool, the dubbing needle has a number of uses, including the teasing out of dubbing material, freeing trapped fibers and applying lacquer to the fly head.

Whip Finishing Tool

While some old-timers prefer to use their fingers, the whip finishing tool can help execute a tight whip finish to your fly in a hurry.

Dubbing Twist

A tool I admit I rarely use, the dubbing twist helps keep the thread taut while creating a dubbing loop.

Hair Stacker

As the name suggest, this tool simply stacks the hair so the tips become more level.


Keep in mind it’s not mandatory that you purchase all of the above tools if you’re considering getting into fly tying, but they’re definitely worth a look.

The hair stacker and dubbing twister are definitely nice-to-haves, but if you’re taking tying seriously, you’ll want to get your hands on a good set of scissors and pliers, and a reliable vice and table.

Everything else is icing on the cake. Good luck on the vice everyone!

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