The Beginner Corner: 4 Flies And The Materials To Get Started

A material and fly list for beginners

Your fly tying room, once you get addicted
Out of the many questions we get sent to us via email or messages on social media etc, one of the
more common, especially for beginners, is what materials or flies should they focus on while learning the ropes. So let's talk about that question here...

First off, there's really no right or wrong answer. It really depends on what you'll be fishing for and subsequently the bugs you'll be tying that ultimately determines your material selection. However, there are a few skills that can be learned on fairly simple fly patterns that can translate universally to other more complex flies as you gain more experience. So our first recommendation is that even though you might be living in Florida and plan on fishing for Tarpon, these are some patterns that you could start with just to nail down those skills. We'll focus on a few of those patterns as well as a list of materials to cover the bases on some patterns for a few different fish targets.  NOTE: We assume, at this point, you've seen our vise options as well as our tool options. Obviously, you need a vise and some tools to work the magic with these materials. You should also start at the very beginning of our Fly Tying 101 courses here. From there, you will see some mini-lessons on how to attach thread, wrap dubbing, attach tails etc -- all of which are skills needed to tie the following flies. Practice those techniques again and again. And again.

1. The Dubbing Emerger (Trout, Grayling, Panfish etc)

As long as you can attach thread and have gone through our Wrapping and Ribbing bodies section of the Fly Tying 101, you'll be a pro at this pattern. Easily one of my most effective nymphs (fly that goes under the water when fish are eating insects under the surface), it's also one of the simplest. Read about it here, but we'll start off your tying session with it now.

Hook: Partridge Fine Czech Nymph #16 (BUY HERE)
Bead:  2.3mm Tungsten Bead, Gold  (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC Premium Thread, 6/0, Brown  (BUY HERE)
Body:  Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing, BWO  (BUY HERE)
Thorax (area right behind the bead):  Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing, Gray Olive (BUY HERE)

2. Wooly Bugger (Trout, Bass or anything that swims)

It's tough to argue either the effectiveness or simplicity of the tried and true Wooly Bugger. It features relatively inexpensive materials, it's not a difficult tie and it will catch almost any fish that swims. It's most often fished in streams and lakes to imitate a lot of different creatures, including leeches, dragon flies, stoneflies, craneflies and the list goes on. It's meant to be fished under the water, so it's meant to sink, not float. Here are the materials you'll need and a video to go along with it:

Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Danville 140 Denier, Black  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Nature's Spirit Strung Marabou, Black   (BUY HERE)
Body: Speckled Chenille, Midnight Fire  (BUY HERE)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Copper-Brown, Brassie size  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Schlappen, Black  (BUY HERE)

3. Brassie (Trout, Grayling mostly, but also good for panfish)

Likely the most bang for your buck if you're nymphing and looking for something effective yet can take a couple of minutes (or less) to tie. You can use this in streams, rivers, lakes, ponds etc and, like the Wooly Bugger, it's fished under the surface to imitate any one of the many small insects the fish will eat.

Hook: Daiichi 1120 #14 down to #18  (BUY HERE)
Bead: 2.3 mm Tungsten, Black Nickel  (BUY HERE)
Thread: Danville, 70 Denier, Black  (BUY HERE)
Wire: UTC Ultrawire, Black & Silver, Size Small  (BUY HERE)
Head: Dubbing of your choice. We like Arizona Synthetic Dubbing  (BUY HERE)

STOP: Tie a dozen of each of these flies. Tie them until your fingers bleed and then tie more. Get them as close as you can to what you see here. Remember, we're working on motor skills and tying techniques. If the fly looks like crap, untie it and tie it again. Be mindful of proportions. And again, go through our skill sessions here.

Now, moving on to something a bit more challenging...

4. Elk Hair Caddis (Dry fly for trout, grayling etc, but also good for panfish)

The Elk Hair Caddis is likely one of the most widely fished patterns in the world, right alongside the venerable Wooly Bugger. It's a dry fly, so it floats on the surface of the water and is intended to imitate the Caddis insect that hatches from the stream or lake to emerge as it turns into an adult ready to hit the town with the other single caddis peeps who also want to desperately get it on before they ultimately flutter and die.

Hook: Daiichi 1180 #14  (BUY HERE)
Thread: Veevus Monofilament Thread, Clear, .1mm  (BUY HERE)
Body: Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing - Callibaetis  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Dark Barred Ginger or Coachman Brown (bear in mind this will tie a LOT of flies, so it's worth the $$$  (BUY HERE)
Wing: Nature's Spirit Select Cow Elk, Natural  (BUY HERE)

So once you have these patterns down, we recommend searching out the areas you'll be fishing and then move onto any of the other patterns we tie. The Fly Tying Tutorial page lists our patterns by category, so you can search through those to find other patterns to tie. But these four listed here are a great start.