“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 and some of this may even be overwhelming and confusing.

“Tying off” may be one of those phrases.

You will continue to hear it all the time between 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.

So..here we are.

on the edge of danger!

Stalemate: It’s 3am..  You’re Sitting at your bench with a turkey biot tied in and wrapped forward, super excited to whip up something with this new found love of fly tying you’ve acquired..

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

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

So 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 point You can either carefully bring 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 bring the bobbin up and drop it over the other side.

Do that twice in the same spot, while holding those pliers in the same position with your tying hand..

but don’t move the hand that’s holding the hackle pliers! Yet.

Thread up, pliers down

Once you have two wraps over the waste ends of the material pick up the bobbin and hold it up in the air vertical (The exact same way you were just holding the hackle pliers)

you can now go ahead and drop those hackle pliers.

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

Bring the thread up and in front

Next: While leaving the hackle pliers hanging there, you can bring the thread around the hook shank again in FRONT of the hanging pliers and the waste ends of the material.

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

Then… REMOVE the pliers.

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, and cut off the excess material that you spent all this time trying to rid yourself of.

You tied it off!!

This technique is used constantly, and sooner than you think, it will just come automatically.

Now Continue with your pattern from here. have fun!

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