Fly tying patterns for beginners – 3 patterns to get you started

One of the most natural moves for most fly fisherman after they have been in the sport for a while is to start tying their own flies, I remember the first fly I tied and the excitement of landing my first fish on my hand tied fly. This can connect you to the sport so much more and once you’ve started tying you can become obsessed.

Fly tying can be a tool to change your perspective and help you learn the bugs on the river. Once you start tying you instantly start to learn new patterns and their relevance to the water. You become more in tune to what you are fishing and in turn become a better angler. You can also use your creativity to change the patterns and refine them to work for your particular river or body of water. Giving you control over the process and changing your whole outlook on the river.

Fly tying patterns for beginners should start slow so that you can learn the basics and develop your skills. Below I list the first five patterns I would start with as a beginner. These patterns will help build your skills and help you grow into the fly tying angler your looking to be.

San Juan Worm

The San Juan worm is probably the best pattern for any beginner to start with because it is the most simple pattern and is also a very effective pattern. The San Juan worm only has one material and is probably the best fly to tie first, you will learn how to clinch in your material and also be able to hit the water and catch fish. You can also tie this pattern in multiple colors and with a lot of different materials. Some of my favorites are red, pink, tan, purple, and in chenille, and squirmy materials.

Materials:

  • Hook size: 10-16
  • Thread: 6/0 ( whichever color you choose to tie)
  • Body: Ultra chenille ( many different colors and material can be used)

Instructions:

To start get your hook in the vice, cover the whole shank in thread, and leave wrap at the end of the hook. Next step tie in the chenille near the end of the hook, once clinched put in some forward wraps towards the front of the hook. Clinch the chenille again and then tie forward again, now put your whip finish in and you are done.

The reason I would recommend this pattern to start is because the simplicity of it, and also it will help get you acquainted with your tools and your vice. It’s also a very effective pattern and can catch fish almost any time of year. I would recommend tying up at least ten of these before you move on to a new pattern. You can also tie this pattern with other materials which I have shown in the video below

Zebra midge

The next pattern I would start with is the Zebra midge, it is also a very effactive pattern and very easy to tie. This pattern also has only one major material and can be tied in a varioty of colors. during the spring, fall, and winter this can be a productive pattern and almost every body of water in the world has midges in it

Materials:

  • Hook size: 16-24
  • Thread: 6/0 ( color choice is up to you)
  • Bead: 1/16th -7/64th (color is up to you)
  • Body/ thread: 6/0 Thread wrpas
  • Ribbing: small to medium ultra wire

Instructions:

First step is to get the bead on, I like using pliers for this as it can be difficult with your fingers on smaller hooks. Make sure you put the small side of the bead on so the bead is facing the right way. Next throw the hook in your vice, and get your thread started near the bead, cover the hook with thread wraps and bring the thread back to the front. Next add your wire I like slipping it into the bead gap and then wrapping it back towards the end of the hook. Now wrap forward building the body with thread wraps, you want it to be even and thicker near the bead. Finally, bring the wire forward in even wraps until you reach the bead. Now tie off the wire and spin it to break off the excess, whip finish and your done.

This is another perfect fly tying pattern for beginners, getting this pattern dialed in will help you as you move froward. You can also tie this pattern without a bead head and build the head with thread wraps, which is called a black beauty, so give that a try as well and you’ll start filling up you midge box in no time. With any pattern make sure you tie at least ten at a time to get the pattern locked down

Pheasant Tail

The pheasant tail is probably one of the most universal flies in fly-fishing and has been a trusted fly of mine for years. It’s tied in a variety of ways and sizes and represent most mayflies in the water. This is defiantly a little bit more complicated fly but is still very easy if you only tie the basic pattern.

Materials:

  • Hook size: 12-24
  • Thread: 6/0 Black or brown
  • Bead: 1/16th-764th (bead is optional)
  • Tail: pheasant tail
  • Body: pheasant tail
  • Ribbing: small to medium ultra wire
  • Thorax: peacock hurl

Instructions: 

Once your hook is in the vice, tie your thread in and cover the hook shank in thread wraps. Tie in your ultra wire and cover with thread wraps back to the bend of the hook. Grab ten to twelve strands of pheasant tail and even out the tips, measure the end of the tips to the eye of the hook this will be the length of your tail. Tie in the tail near the hook bend. Once clinched in grab the ends of the pheasant tail and wrap forward in even wraps creating the body, clinch and secure near the middle of the hook. Wrap your ultra wire forward in counter wraps to hold and secure your body. Tie in three pieces of peacock hurl and wrap towards the font of hook to build your thorax. Bring the but ends of the pheasant tail over the peacock hurl to create a casing, secure with a couple extra thread wraps and whip finish.

This pattern can be tied in a variety of ways shapes and colors, this is where you really can start getting creative with your tying. Don’t be afraid to try new things with this pattern and I would recommend tying them in all sizes. I’ve caught trout in almost every river I’ve ever fished with this pattern, and have almost a full box of these with me at all times.

Hit the water

brown trout

Next step is to get out there and hit the water with your new hand tied flies. This is probably the best, part of the whole process. When you catch your first trout on your own fly it will be a moment that I’m sure you’ll remember for the rest of your life, I remember my first catch and I’m sure you will too.

The more you tie the better you’ll get so don’t get frustrated if your first couple patterns aren’t perfect. Just keep after it and you’ll be spinning up solid looking bugs in no time. Also, sometimes the ugliest looking flies will catch some great trout, nothings perfect in nature and that goes along with bugs in the water. Also, get creative and add your own flavor to these patterns, there is no real right or wrong way to tie flies it’s all up to you how you want to do it.

As always if you have any questions or need anything at all leave a message below and ill be sure to get back to as soon as I can.

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