Ten Tips For A Fly Tying Production Line

Fly Tying - Ten Tips

It’s that time of the year when many of us are sitting down to restock our severely depleted fly boxes. As a guide, it’s surprising how many flies I can go through in a season and so have a few patterns I like to tie in bulk. Whipping up a couple hundred size 14 nymphs isn’t as easy as it sounds, and when on such a mission, you’re tying for production, not for fun.

Here are ten tips that make my bulk fly tying a little bit easier to manage, and a lot quicker to fill:

  1. Prep your hooks and lay them out. I use a sheet of foam to keep pre beaded hooks readily at hand. I find if you lay out a certain number, you’re more likely to tie them up as opposed to prepping and tying one at a time
  2. Lay out your materials in advance to save messing about with packets and untangling wire etc. Again if I have a ball of dubbing on the table I’m more likely to keep tying until I use it all. Cut wing cases and rubber legs in advance, strip and prepare hackles
  3. Lay out two pairs of scissors, readily accessible if like me, you don’t keep them in your hand throughout the tying process. Keeping your scissors in your hand saves a lot of time, but I’ve never personally gotten used to that. Likewise, keep two bobbins at hand. Especially handy if you break off your thread in the middle of an important step, midway through your tie
  4. Use good quality tools. Nothing kills your mojo like your thread breaking in your bobbin or blunt, cheap scissors not doing their job quick and neat
  5. Keep only what is needed on the bench and keep it clutter free
  6. Minimise those wraps. If pulled tight, it only takes 3 or 4 wraps to secure most materials. And keep your thread short for faster, stronger more precisely laid wraps
  7. Ensure you have adequate lighting. I’m a fan of natural light and so tying by the large, front windows throughout the day works for me, but a soft lamp aimed down from above highlights your vise, and is easy on the eyes when needed
  8. Remove distractions. The TV goes off once the tying starts unless you are the type who focusses more with a little background noise. Turn off your phone
  9. Keep water / snacks beside you. If you get up to make a snack, chances are you’ll get side-tracked and lose your momentum
  10. Like a job, set aside the time to tie, say 0900 - 1200 with a scheduled break in between. Some people can sit down for marathon tying sessions whereas others may knock out a dozen flies and that’s it. The benefit of setting our your bench as described above is that you can come and go as you need, and get straight back into it without fluffing around finding materials, threading beads onto hooks etc

And finally a bonus, time your flies. If I know my first fly takes two minutes, then I’ll aim for 25-30 in that first hour ( keeping it real, as we will still find distractions ). Always set goals, in everything you do.


Chris Dore is a battle tested fly fishing guide with over 15 years of professional guiding experience, battling the demanding, ever changing conditions that our New Zealand rivers throw at us.

In 2006 Chris became one of the first New Zealanders to successfully pass the internationally recognised Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors examination and has since taught many thousands of anglers to up their skillset.

For more in person and on river fly fishing advice and upskilling why not book Chris for a day or three?