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Why Fly Tying Is the Perfect Winter Hobby for Anglers

The Art of Fly Tying

As winter descends upon Colorado, with freezing temperatures and shorter days, many anglers are looking for indoor activities to complement their love for fly fishing. One such activity that perfectly complements fly fishing is fly tying. Fly tying is the process of creating artificial flies used to catch fish. It not only enhances the fly fishing experience but also serves as a fulfilling and creative hobby. While fly tying may not appeal to everyone, it is an activity that every angler should try at least once.

Comparing Fly Tying with Cooking

An interesting comparison can be drawn between fly tying and cooking. Suppose you are planning to cook a nice meal at home. You would typically find a recipe or gain inspiration online, make a quick trip to the grocery store to gather the necessary ingredients, and then follow the recipe to create your dish. Similarly, fly tying involves finding a specific fly pattern recipe, visiting the fly shop to purchase the materials, and then following the recipe to craft your own fly.

Just like cooking, fly tying is an art form. Every fly tyer has their own unique style and preferences, just as cooks have their own cooking techniques. There is no right or wrong way to tie flies. While there are basic skills and tools required for fly tying, such as a fly tying vise, scissors, bobbins, whip finishers, bodkins, hackle pliers, and head cement, each individual can develop their own style over time.

Essential Tools for Fly Tying

To begin your fly tying journey, you will need a few basic tools. The most important tool is the fly tying vise, which holds the hook securely in place as you tie materials around it. It is recommended to invest in a decent vise that provides stability and control. Along with the vise, you will also need scissors for cutting and trimming, bobbins to hold the thread, a whip finisher to knot the thread around the fly, a bodkin for applying head cement, and hackle pliers to clamp down on feathers.

Head cement is an essential item for every fly tyer. It is used to lock the thread in place, preventing the fly from unraveling. Other useful tools include a hair stacker or hackle stacker, dubbing twister, dubbing comb, tying tweezers, UV glue kit, and various types of scissors and bobbins. Good lighting, such as a tying light or UV desk light, is also important for effective fly tying.

Getting Started with Fly Tying

If you’re unsure where to begin, purchasing a complete fly tying kit can be a great option. While these kits may contain lower-budget tools that you may want to upgrade eventually, they provide a convenient starting point.

To kick start your fly tying journey, here are five beginner fly patterns to try:

1. Zebra Midge: This versatile pattern imitates midges found in almost all river systems. It is fast and easy to tie, and you can experiment with different colors, sizes, beads, threads, and wires.

2. Squirmy Worm: A modern take on the classic San Juan worm pattern, the Squirmy Worm is effective in higher water scenarios. Be creative and add different colors or beads to customize this pattern.

3. Woolly Bugger: Considered the universal streamer pattern, the Woolly Bugger resembles small baitfish and can be tied in various colors and sizes. It is a go-to pattern for fishing in any body of water.

4. Frenchie: A new-age version of the pheasant tail pattern, the Frenchie features a heavy bead and a slim profile that allows it to sink quickly. Customize this pattern with different bead colors, threads, and hot spots.

5. Waltz Worm (or Sexy Waltz): This competition-style nymph pattern imitates cased caddis and can be tied in different colors and sizes. The pink bead variation is particularly effective in winter months.

These patterns provide a great starting point, and their materials can be altered to suit your preferences. There is no right or wrong way to tie flies, so let your creativity flow!


Fly tying is an ideal winter hobby for anglers. It not only complements fly fishing but also serves as a creative and fulfilling activity during the colder months. Just like cooking, fly tying is an art form that allows fly tyers to showcase their individual style and preferences. With the right tools and materials, beginners can dive into the world of fly tying and discover the joy of creating their own fishing flies. So why not give fly tying a try and unlock a whole new dimension to your angling experience?

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