HomeAbout UsOur LocationBusiness Hours, PoliciesBooks for SaleRiver Magic StoreFREE! River MapsFishing ConditionsNova Scotia Salmon Fly GalleryNova Scotia's St. Mary's RiverFly Tying Workshops, ContestClassic Salmon Fly GalleryBiographiesStillwater Slim on the Line ...Cordless ViseRiver Magic makes News!Links We Like


Fly Tying Season


Fly tyers everywhere are taking advantage of indoor winter time to prepare for the next fishing season. Fly shops are restocking to supply customers with hooks and materials, and each year new natural and synthetic materials hit the market. During the past 40 years I’ve been amazed by many improvements in hackle quality along with new feather products bred specifically for fly tyers. New synthetic materials, such as incredibly fine yet strong GSP thread, also enhance the fly tying experience. And we’ve even discovered another use for a dead coyote – they have wonderful fur for fly tying.


Learning how to tie flies has never been easier. Fine quality books, videos and hands-on workshops at your fly shop make it easy to master the skill. An early challenge for a beginner is master the whip finish knot, used to tie off thread as the final step in tying a fly. So, we Googled “whip finish knot” and found a wealth of video clips showing very clearly how this finishing knot is tied, both manually and using a whip finish tool. It’s a far cry from my beginning days when I borrowed fly tying books from the library. If a new library book had any color plates of flies, they soon were torn out and hoarded by over-zealous tyers.


Fly tying tools such as vises and scissors have also improved over the years. New full-rotary vises speed up fly-tying and are fun to use, as well as new styles of non-rotating vises. Some of our better medium-priced vises are now lifetime warranted and made in USA, such as those made by Regal or Anvil USA. There are also some good imports available like the Danvise and some Regal knock-offs. They are both economical and reliable. Many cheaper vises are available, but they frustrate the tyer and soon find their way to the landfill, possibly ruining the hobby for a beginner. Several years ago a doctor who tied flies believed that surgical-quality scissors and tools would be welcomed by fly-tyers, and he was right. His company, Dr. Slick, now supplies our market with excellent quality tools at quite reasonable prices. Anvil USA and Tiemco (branded as Metz) likewise supply good scissors.


Development of the fly tying bobbin, which happened after I started tying, made fly-tying much easier. They are available with metal or ceramic tubes. Ceramic bobbins last longer and don’t cut our thread, but the cheaper metal bobbins can be used for tougher materials, like tinsel, when they become worn. We tyers also use a hair-stacking tool to even animal hair tips, resulting in a neater looking fly. These devices work well except in dry air (winter), when static electricity makes hair stick to the tool. Fortunately, Anvil USA now makes a stacker that is not affected by static electricity, and it’s a joy to use anytime.


All of these developments were fuelled by steady growth in popularity of the hobby. There never was a better time to begin this hobby. Fly tyers have never had it so good!


Our fly of the week is a dry trout fly that we created at River Magic’s fly tying workshop last week. These workshops are free, held every Saturday from 2 – 4 pm. Hooks and materials are provided, bring your vise & tools.




Thread:                      UTC G.S.P. 50 Denier black thread

Hook:                          Mustad 94840, size 10 - 14

Tail:                             Black barred white coyote guard hair from the animal’s back (don’t cut butt ends)

Body:                          Tan coyote underfur

Wing (optional):        Butt ends of tail material looped over, tied down, and divided in two  

Hackle:                       Grizzly neck or saddle hackle

Head:                         Black thread finished with head cement


Please send comments and suggestions to slim@rivermagic.ca


Please stay on the line …