Before we go any further let
it be said that craft stores do not stock fishing hooks, let
alone specialized fly hooks or Hoffman premium hackle capes..
For some patterns there are no substitutes and those materials
specifically required for a fly are only available at tackle
stores. Our passion for fly fishing could not exist without the
local tackle store. So support your local tackle stores because
if they were not there the basic things would cost even more
when you add transport or postage costs to get them elsewhere.
Any blame of high cost of materials should be focused on the
wholesalers and the government for their countless taxes for
Now to the article
Unlike some American fly tiers
I have met which have to have the exact recipe down to the minutest
material and method, and once they have it never ever straying
from the path, Australian fly tiers seem a little more relaxed
about not having all the materials to make a fly they have been
Aussies as a whole are a make
do with what you have sort of people. What ever it takes
to get the job done. When I first started tying I couldnt
tie more than a few of a pattern with out making a change in
materials or proportions to see if that would make a difference
in cost, tying time or performance. (make them in batches of
30 to 100 or more now though)
So if you too a make do
kind of tier who hates paying some of the prices that are currently
out there for fly tying materials this article is for you, lets
through the aisles of the Newcastle Spotlight store and identify
materials we can use for fly tying. Also giving a few examples
of flies tied with the suggested materials.
The Newcastle Spotlight store
sales assistants should now know me by sight now. But most sales
assistants in the craft section of the store always have a chuckle
at the guy in a suit and tie strolling amongst the artsy, craftsie
type women and old ladys with blue rinse hair looking for
some knitting wool. Their craft section is sometimes my lunchtime
walk. I find something new I can use almost every time I visit
the place and wander the aisles.
In the aisles we have
Kids craft pompoms for globugs and bread flies, even pulled
apart for dubbing uses, coloured pipe cleaners for fly bodies
and chenille substitutes, glitter for mixing into your epoxies
or adding a scale effect.
Above are the pompoms, and the
globugs made with them.
A vast range of pipe cleaners
is available, below a pipe cleaner crazy charlie fly a
very good use of the material. This pattern a good bonefish pattern
- called a Turd fly(tan pipe cleaner), remembering
any bonefish fly is most likely a good whiting fly.
Then we have stemmed dolls eyes
at half the price of the ones sold in tackle stores. See the
Glove squid fly which shows the use of the dolls eyes towards
the end of this article, also the next image with the Salamander
fly for freshwater and tropical species.
The thread section has almost
any colour you could use, in bulk too. Clear mono thread, far
cheaper then any fly store. From a saltwater, bass bug tiers
point of view the mostly thicker threads are not an issue, though
the thin threads are there too.
More choices of thread than you
Plenty of Gudebrod thread which
although a long thin spool you can get other bobbin holders to
suit or just use a power drill to wind thread onto an empty spool
suited to your current bobbin holder.
Also metallic threads here by
the spool and at a comparable price, yet more range. These for
use on the bodies of crazy charlie and minnow type patterns.
In the yarn and wool sections
you can match any nymph colour such is the range of balls
of wool, you can even untwist some yarn and mix colours to form
multi colour segment wraps for nymph bodies, a very effective
Not forgetting Faux wool (shown
next), this wool is used to knit fluffy teddy bears but for the
fly tier it makes great one wrap woolly buggers, no palmered
feather needed. Limited range of colours though.
Here we have a length of Faux
wool and the Faux Fur Bugger fly.
Millinery (hat making) materials
are useful too marabou, guinea fowl, feathers, braiding
and tassels. Below is the range of marabous (look at the size
of those bags in the next image). The range of ribbon material
is endless and has many applications in carapace and wingcase
components of nymphs, prawns and crayfish. At the moment they
lots of Xmas decorations in stock and have a browse through this,
lots of interesting textures, materials and good stuff that has
to be useful for something.
Boas and others, buy your marabou
and saddle hackle by the yard, though not the best quality hackles,
you would be better with strung hackles from the tackle store,
though they too still have their place on the tying desk.
Beads, eyes and other
bead flies, eye stalks, squid eyes, salamander fly eyes, 3D eyes.
Rattle dolls eyes for poppers and bass surface flies. A wider
range and much cheaper than any tackle stores.
Next are a few patterns utilizing
the plastic beads above, for eyes in the prawn patterns, extended
body material in the oversized damsel pattern I am currently
using to target bream. Plenty of more uses, totally use to your
inventiveness. The top right one is a prawn pattern suing flower
stamens for eyes but the body instead on silicone is clear plastic
Then when you are after a pattern
with bead eyes but not the weight of bead chain, heres
your material - strung plastic beads in a vast range of colours
as shown below and see an example in previous group of flies,
the bottom right fly a Hackle Prawn with green
plastic bead eyes.
There is fake furs for teddy
bears used as tails of the Eyes fly and crazy charlie
applications. Although definitely not polarfibre,
the same applications can be done with some of the fake furs
available the one shown below is Yeti Fur.
For the same price as a 6" x 4" patch of polarfibre
you can have almost a meter of Yeti fur
Next is a baitfish fly using
the Yeti Fur. I am currently developing some rainbow
fish patterns similar to this one but different colourings for
my next trip to the Northern Territory. This style of fly tying
promoted by Paul van Reenen of Success Flies is perfectly suited
to one of the prime food sources for Barramundi in the lagoons.
This one is a mullet fly.
The tropical lagoon food source
previously mentioned is a rainbowfish, in particular as shown
below, the Exquisite Rainbowfish from Corroboree
Using a big game or circle hook
and various colours of Yeti Fur and some flash materials
you can imitate any baitfish creating an exact duplicate in fly
materials, 3D profile, weed proof, colourings and just the right
size. A very versatile tying style indeed. I have some videos
on the tying method for those interested.
How about fabric paint for making
3D eyes, adding ribbing to a pattern and many more things.
Silk flowers make great wings
for mayfly dries, leaving the stamens for where you need eyes
on other flies. Other uses include carapace materials for the
same crustacean patterns as you the stamens for.
Below is probably the item I
hope to find the most useful - dark tipped silk flower stamens.
You could use the other colours and use a marker pen to make
them the colour you want. For a few dollars I get 100s
of eyes for my silicone prawn pattern and others and what saltwater
fly does benefit from a good set of prominent eyes.
Next are a few of the silicone
prawns using the stamens.
Upholstery, curtain making and
Mylar tubing plus many more tassels, ribbing materials that all
have a place on the tying bench.
Theres also bulk large
headed pins used for dress making which make good eyes. Plus
Velcro tabs for crab patterns and other uses. Good quality hot
glue guns and plenty of spare glue rods, even a few coloured/glitter
ones (red, blue, green, silver and gold). Great for building
crab patterns, building scud patterns for trout, there is a great
web site on using hot glue guns in fly tying at, http://globalflyfisher.com/tiebetter/hotmelt/index.html
well worth a visit and a surf for a couple of hours.
Above we have these feather based
tassels, I dont know what the crafty types use them for
or what they call them, but each contains enough goose biot for
a few years worth of flies (these for Prince nymphs and Doodlebug
flies - a variation on the montana nymph using red goose biot
down the sides of the nymph and forming tail).
Above is some coloured plastic
tubing, I think they use it for the hooks on knitted coathangers.
There is a fly tying style called Lipstick flies.
In NZ they use lumo tubing in the similar manner for a fly used
at night and call it Nuclear Fushin. Basically its
a length of tubing on a hook, add prism eyes, add optional marabou
tail, use a red marker to add some gills, maybe a darkened back
(black marker) and then go "fushin". The original
Lipstick pattern used the clear tubing used for tropical
fish tank air hoses.
The there are the other stores
to consider:- $2 shops , Op-charity shops, Lindcraft, smaller
craft stores and materials shops, hobby shops. Not forgetting
Woolworths for items like Xmas tinsel. I have been using the
one lot of blue/silver tinsel for almost two years now, cost
60cents, for Eyes flies and the like.
Also rubber gloves which can
be cut up using finger tips for squid cases.
Then stripping the rest of the
glove for larva lace type uses, Woolworths also have bags of
bulk rubber bands (multi-coloured best) again for same larva
lace uses and crazy charlie applications as the stripped rubber
Rubberband Charlies great in
sizes 8 and 6 34007 for whiting and other estuary species.
Well thats a starting point
for you, the rest is up to you. I suggest you head off to a Spotlight
store next time you are searching for fly tying materials, you
may find what you are after and you may save yourself some money
(but because of all thats available you may end up buying
more things then you first intended to!).