Beginner guide: basic fly-tying materials for trout flies

8th June 2019

In the beginning, it is not easy to choose the necessary material to tie the firsts basic flies, there is a huge amount of material out there and pick what you really need can be difficult.
My first recommendation is to buy what you need, and, if is possible for you, in a fishing tackle shop. You should find somebody that helps you. Many online stores have great customer service, but some material has to be seen before buying.

I'm talking about the thread, the dubbing, and the capes/saddles. The olive thread (just a color example, can be brown, orange, etc.) is different from brand to brand. Same story for the dubbing.
Every cape has his own story, there aren't 2 identical capes, you should check some feathers to control the quality. Are their feathers long enough and the barbs quite thick? In the following list you will find the necessary material to tie some nymphs and some dry fly.


Hooks: lots out there, in different shapes and sizes, for dry fly, wet or nymph. At the beginning get some hooks in sizes 10, 12 and 14. It is really important to buy good quality hooks, they are the most important part of the fly and they can make a huge difference when a fish gets hooked. It’s very important as well to keep them sharp.

Threads: with the bobbin it is used to build the fly and keep all the material together step by step. You can get just the white color if you have permanent markers you can color it as you want. Otherwise, some popular for many flies colors are black, olive, brown and red in size 8/0 or 140 deniers.

Dubbing: generally it is used for the body. There are some really nice dispensers in the market, they contain all the necessary colors. Anyway, for starters, you can get black, olive, brown and red (as the colors of the threads) and play with them.

Wire: it is used for imitating the insect abdomen segments and to make the fly more strong, trouts teeth are devastating for the flies. Size medium or 0,2 mm in color copper at the beginning is enough.

Oval Tinsel: it has the same function as the wire, but it’s used for dry flies, it’s widely used in size small and color silver.

Pheasant Tail: the ringneck pheasant tail feather it is the longest feather of the pheasant, can account for half its total length. There are different pheasant feathers for the fly tying, make sure to get the right one (see them here). The pheasant tail has many uses, it can be used as a tail, if wrapped on the hook it can imitate the body or even the legs of the flies. One natural feather at the beginning is more than enough.

Marabou: the marabou feather in the market comes mainly from turkey, some from chicken. The main feature of this kind of plume is the movement in the water, it really attractive for the fish, a popular fly tied with marabou feathers is the Wooly Bugger.
There are different types out there, for art&craft and for fly tying. Usually, the feathers for art&craft are smalls and they are used as decoration. For fly-tying, we need to get large feathers, like thisthis, in black and olive.
Capes and saddles: they are a really important part of your material and they are applied in several ways. We get them from roosters and hens.
The rooster feathers are generally used for dry fly, they are long, stiff and more expensive.
The hen feathers are used for wet flies or nymphs, they are short, soft and less expensive.
Moreover, there are different quality between capes and saddles. This is a really quick explanation about capes and saddles, every piece of them is unique for color and structure.
As I said earlier, you should see it and touch it before buying it, especially if is a good and expensive cape or saddle, where you invest quite good money. If is not possible for you, contact the online seller, ask for details and some pictures.
Get a natural grizzly cock cape for start.

Tungsten beads: trouts find 90% of their food under the water surface, you need something to help you to go down there. Besides the beads make your nymph shiny, this characteristic looks really attractive for the fish. For beginning color gold in size 3.

Don’t be mean when you buy fly tying material, especially with the hooks, the fly-tying hobby is quite expensive but, on the other hand, it’s really satisfying. Catch a fish with your own fly, tied after study and observation of your environment, it’s the best part of this hobby, the essence of fly-fishing.