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“Fly Tying 101” Tying off your material 

When you begin tying flies there are plenty of phrases you will hear repeatedly and after a while they will become automatic. Your tools will become an extension of your arm and you won’t have to second guess.

But right now if you are beginning this may not be automatic yet, some of this may even be overwhelming and confusing.

With “Tying off” being one of those phrases.

You will continue to hear it all the time between the Fly tying videos, books, magazines, our tying sessions and everywhere else so it might help to become acquainted with the meaning.

What “tying off” essentially means (in a matter of fact- run on sentence- kind of way of putting it) is this:

“You’ve reached the point where you are finished using one material that’s on the hook- but you can’t put another one on until you remove the excess material you have left- or it’ll look like crap when it’s done.”

Now what?

 Example: You can’t put any dubbing on to the pattern that you are following, until you have removed the rest of this turkey biot above

Yet how would you do that?

By tying it off.

Now I’m Going to give you a step-by-step that will not apply to every single material (because as we will go over in a later post, it varies, for example: with a soft hackle you may put thread behind the Hackle and run it through to the front) but this will definitely apply to the great majority of them. we are.

on the edge of danger!

Stalemate: It’s 3am..  You’re Sitting at your bench, super excited to whip up something with this new found love of fly tying you’ve acquired. yessss!

..then all of a sudden you realize you’re completely unsure on how to get rid of this mess left, without the whole thing coming undone.

..Hackle pliers dangling, dangerously close to unhooking and sabotaging all of your hard work.

(You can sleep well tonight knowing that sooner or later it will happen, it’s ok, not a big deal just put them back on and wrap it again.)

Where do we go from here?

We go up!


Hold it up!

You’re gonna Take those pliers with the material attached and hold it vertical with your ‘tying hand’

Up and to the left

Then with your non tying hand, bring that threaded bobbin UP and over to the left side; by doing so it will begin to compress the material from underneath.

Toss it over

At this poiny You can either carefullyyyy the bobbin up and over the hook shank, but if you’ve been to our Fly tying group or saw me at a show you’ll hear me say “just toss it over”. Really, just toss it.

In which case you literally, just hold the Bobbin and drop it over the other side.

Do that twice in the same spot, while holding those pliers in the same position.

and Don’t move that hand that’s holding the hackle pliers! Yet…

Thread up, pliers down

You’ll pick up the bobbin and hold it up in the air vertical (The exact same way you were just holding the hackle pliers)

and then go ahead and drop those hackle pliers.

As you can see below you have essentially resumed the same previous position with the tools, but now they are reversed.

Bring the thread up and in front

Next: While leaving those hackle pliers hanging there you will Bring that thread around and up in FRONT  of the hanging pliers and the material.

Now bring it Back down in front
Back up again..

Then… REMOVE the pliers. (but don’t take my word for it on how many wraps before this step since I cant see what you’re tying and it’s all personal preference depending on what the material is. You may need more or less) so experiment and see what works for you .

Remove pliers. snip excess, one more wrap and that’s it!

At this point Depending on what you are tying and what the next material is you can take one more wrap, Cut off the excess material that you spent all this time trying to finally rid yourself of, take one more wrap anddd thats it!

You tied it off!!

This technique is used constantly, and sooner than you realize you wont even have to think it will just come automatically.

Now Continue with your pattern from here. have fun!


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