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Old 10-28-17, 06:28 PM   #1
DoubleRainbow
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Default Economy Fly Tying: Save Some Cash

Hello NGTO,

I wanted to start a thread for some ideas of obtaining commonly used fly tying materials for cheap/around the house. This could help some beginning tiers get started for less money, as well as help you save some . Although some things are essential for quality assurance like dry fly materials, most of the nymph materials can be substituted. When I first started out tying, I found that I had to improvise and find suitable materials to create some of the flies I saw online. I am sure y'all have found some methods as well and it'd be great to hear them! So far, here are some of my "fly material hacks"...

Around the House...

Thin Skin -> Black Electrical Tape, just be sure the shiny side is up and you put some UV resin on it for durability. Added benefit is you can cut it to size and one roll will last you hundreds of flies.

Wire -> Any electronic item that is disfunctional such as clocks, small motors, radios, etc. You'd be surprised at the variety of sizes and colors you can find. For weighting a nymph/streamer, just buy some lead free wire and help out the river

Dubbing -> Dogs or Cats (if they have multiple colors, that's a plus). Use one of those long teeth combs and brush away! Pull out the clump of fur and it's awesome dubbing material. Not to mention your furry friend loves a good ol' brush down.

Tailing material -> Paint Brush Bristles. Usually applies to smaller and thinner bristle paint brushes but I am sure you can find a use for the thicker ones too. For other colors try an old toothbrush's bristles for smaller flies.

Wings -> Ziplock bags cut into shape can make some decent wings, I usually take a very fine tip sharpie to give it some spots. Another good idea is old cassette tapes, they give a darker wing and look nice.

Larval bodies -> Rubber balloons/latex gloves cut up into strips can give a great segmented look in a variety of colors. I usually put a coating of Sally Hansen's to make it more durable. Also you can use permanent markers on lighter rubber to get a nice contrast of colors.

Rubber Legs -> Inside of bungee cords and some round shoe laces usually have strands of rubber in the core. The colors or sizes might not be what you're looking for, but it's always nice to experiment with new proportions and colors.

Eyes -> Burning some old monofilament on either ends after tie in gives you natural looking eyes, good for Damselfly nymphs. Also, cutting off bead linked chains from key chains, dog tags, or other necklaces can make for some good eyes as well. I usually color mine black with a sharpie to vary it up.

Find it for Cheap at...

Pheasant Tail -> If you go to hobby lobby or a similar craft store you can find pheasant tails for cheap and in multiple colors. Use primarily for nymphs as the quality isn't very good.

Tinsel/Flashback -> Craft Stores, usually during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, July 4th, etc. you can find different colored tinsels that work just as good. For smaller nymphs, look for a brand in the thread section called "Sulky", they're more durable than most fly tying branded tinsel and last forever.

Mop Fly Material -> Dollar tree has green ones for 1 dollar. It is in the automotive care section.

Glass beads for Midges -> Make sure to bring an appropriate sized hook with you to see if it fits and doesn't fall out over the eye.

Foam -> Craft stores sell them for cheap and there isn't much of a difference between the ones branded for fly tying vs the ones at these stores.

That is all I could think of for now, and I didn't add in the aspect of hunting for fur, feathers, and other materials. Hope you guys experiment with some of these, and I'd love to hear some of your "hacks".

Tight Lines,

John

Last edited by DoubleRainbow; 10-29-17 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 10-29-17, 07:47 AM   #2
UncleJesse
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You forgot flip-flops and the little foam sandals the toe nail salon give your significant other.

A one piece continual taper ballpoint pen makes the best half hitch tool in the world, a metal one is best but the pens from Hilton are good too.

Sometimes the cotton in a bottle of pills is some type of fiberfill and can used for shucks, you can have any color you want, as long as it's white.

Twist rubber legs with hemostats pull taut and run a marker down them, gives a spiral segmentation when released. Reverse the twist and do it again, give you a plaid, applies mostly the Scottish fishermen.
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Old 10-29-17, 08:48 AM   #3
Chuck Morris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Morris View Post
from a few years back.



Your post has got me thinking about all of the non-traditional materials that I use and have used over the years. Things like coffee filters and used dryer sheets for winging material. Un-waxed dental floss for building up under bodies and sometimes for bodies themselves, colored with permanent markers. Plastic canvas yarn for bodies, wing posts, wings and strike indicators. Brushed out nylon craft cord for bodies, wings, wing posts and streamer fibers. Flip flops for making dremel bugs and other pan-fish/bass flies. Surgical and other latex/rubber gloves for backs. Christmas and other wrapping paper for bodies/flashbacks/weird wings and ribbing. Some dog collars, that have the wildest colors of maribou. These were a big hit at the Unicoi Outdoor adventure day. Haloween masks (Mardi Gras masks) that have some off the wall colors of feathers and biots. Pedicure sandals made out of thin foam, once again wild colors. Crystal string (a stretchy string used in jewelry making) that makes an excellent substitute for Larva Lace. Can be used for bodies and ribbing. Can also be used for legs. Krenik braid for a variety of uses.(Bodies/wings/adding flash/legs etc.) Spinner bait skirts for legs.
I make my own head cement out of Shoe-Goo and Toluene. I also use this mixture on my tying thread when I want to do touch dubbing and as an adhesive when I want to make my PT's/peacock herl flies more durable without adding a rib. Fabric paint for various tasks. (Bodies/eyes on bass and panfish flies/use instead of epoxy on things like Copper Johns/eyes on Thunder Creek style streamers) Use the kind that comes in squeeze bottles and that are "dimensional". Seed beads for some colored bead head flies. Various solutions to dye things, such as tea, coffee, iodine, kool-aid, food coloring. Invisible thread for some tying applications. (It's a very fine monofilament that can be found at Wally World and sewing stores.) Old fly line for extended bodies. Punch embroidery yarn for really easy and simple bodies. (Check FOAL too simple nymph series)
I'm sure there are other things, but for right now that's about all I can think of. Anyone else use weird stuff or am I the only one who walks through a store and think "How can I use that for fly tying?"
Hope this gives y'all something to think about. Think outside the box.
Chuck
PS. As a lot of my tying friends know, I tie with some pretty exotic hair and fur. Vaal Reebok/Mountain Reedbuck/New Zealand Red Stag/Wildebeest/Gnu etc. I have a friend who is a world class taxidermist and he saves me his trimmings.
PPS. Support our local fly shops. There are too many things used in fly tying that cannot be subsitiuted for and most of these items are available only through fly shops.
This is part of a thread from 2009. Gathering tying materials I think.
Chuck
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Last edited by Chuck Morris; 10-29-17 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 10-29-17, 08:25 PM   #4
DoubleRainbow
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Uncle Jesse, Thanks for those hints! I actually don't have a half hitch tool and have been using my index finger but I'll have to give that a try. The banding on the rubber legs is also something I will try, it'd be a nice change form horizontal barring.

Chuck, wow I did not know this was in the forum, thank you for bringing it to my attention! There's a lot of useful information in it and I'm glad I see some parallels with what I found. Learn something new everyday
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Old 10-30-17, 01:40 PM   #5
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The foil from the neck of wine bottles can make for interesting bodies and add a bit of weight too.
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Old 10-30-17, 06:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eiger423 View Post
The foil from the neck of wine bottles can make for interesting bodies and add a bit of weight too.
Woah, great first post! Welcome to the forum. I'm going to try that

DoubleRainbow, cool idea for a thread. I've learned alot already!

Here's my 2 cents.
I've been experimenting with using the foam from Ear plugs on some big hopper/skater-type flies. The ones I have are closed cell foam so they work alright. Haven't come up with anything super sleek or good looking yet though. Feel free to experiment with the idea!
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Old 10-30-17, 11:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by orey10m View Post
I've been experimenting with using the foam from Ear plugs on some big hopper/skater-type flies. The ones I have are closed cell foam so they work alright. Haven't come up with anything super sleek or good looking yet though. Feel free to experiment with the idea!
You need a cylinder cutter for your drill. Any metal tube you can chuck up will usually work if you sharpen the end. A wrecked self opening umbrella shaft is the best thing I have found, the one with a hexagonal shape are as good as any. Cut a piece of flip flop the length you want your body and drill from the side; push it out of the cutter with some kind of stick or wire. The easiest grasshopper from foam is cut 45 deg. bevels on each end same side of cylinder, cut a slit down the center of the short side for the hook shaft. Holding the cylinder on the top of the shaft, upside down, the length overhanging the eye tie down the beveled end. Now flip the length over the shaft, glue the shaft in the slit; tie down a head. From there you can make eyes with a marker; add wings of feather; or stiff material; add legs of rubber or turkey feather. I hope I explained that adequately; add legs and go bream fishing they don't care if it has wings or not.
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Old 11-08-17, 11:09 AM   #8
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dollar store teddy bear dubbing....and they sell 1 mm foam
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