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  • Tricks of the Fly Tying Trade: 3 Everyday Objects to Boost Your Tying Productivity
  • Post author
    Dennis Gamboa
  • fly fishingfly tying

Tricks of the Fly Tying Trade: 3 Everyday Objects to Boost Your Tying Productivity

As a Commercial Tyer, I Always Tie My Flies in Large Batches.

Efficiency is the name of the game here, and being that I produce over 50,000 flies per year, I've developed some methods to boost my fly output over time. Here are some simple tricks, some of which I've been using for well over a decade, that you can use to make your own fly tying quicker and easier.

1. Wooden Clothespins

Tired of holding your molded eyes together until the glue dries? Whether you're pressing them on one at a time or waiting for adhesives to dry, there is an easier way!

Wooden clothespins are the ideal helper because of their wide surface area and their wooden surface won't slide or scratch the molded eye surface.

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Even better is that the best place to purchase these is from your local dollar store. You don't want the the spring tension on the pins to be too tight and you will find the good quality ones squeeze too tightly, causing adhesive to leak out the sides, which makes the dollar store clothespins the perfect fit for fly tying as the spring tension is less tight.

This clothespin technique is also useful on Fish-Skull Fish-Masks and Baitfish Heads. Why? For one thing, the Living Eyes are HD molded eyes and covering it with UV resin to hold the eye in place can dilute the realistic appearance.

Try prepping Fish-Masks and Living Eyes with wooden clothespins to save time.

This method is well suited for use with eyes from 1.5mm to 18mm and with E6000 adhesive or Devcon 5-minute epoxy.

2. Cauterizers

Battery operated cauterizers are an excellent inclusion to your fly tying bench toolbox. Primarily used in the medical industry to seal off a wound or an incision, disposable sterile cautery pens can reach temperatures of up 1200 degrees Celsius.

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These precision tools are most useful for clearing out the eyelets of stray fibers and other fussy materials. I also use them regularly to clear out runny head cements that have dried or cured resin. The cauterizers are even hot enough to burn through 2-ton epoxy! They were once only available at medical facilities and outlets, but are now a common tool and easily found at your local fly shop.

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I do a lot of custom work with EP fibers and similar materials. Super glue was the norm for attaching the moulded or tape eyes to the fibres, but this was never permanent and came off readily with with any slight impact from the side of the eye. I originally found E6000 glue and 5-minute epoxy much more effective.

Creating a well for eye placement with a cauterizer.

Now I make eyes bomb proof by using the cauterizer to burn a small well or hole in the EP fibres, just enough to expose the wire base or hook itself. This technique creates a solid foundation for the glue/epoxy and eye to adhere to rather than just fibres itself. The well also prevents glue from running out and onto the body resulting in a cleaner fly.

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Using a clothespin to apply consistent even pressure throughout the drying process makes this method one of the most solid and efficient ways to adhere eyes on a production scale. 

3. Wooden Craft Dowels

Here’s another commercial fly tyer tip for when you're putting eyes onto Fish-Skull Fish-Masks — use wooden Craft Dowels to hold several of them together.

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This makes it easy for you to place eyes on accurately and ideal for gluing or UV curing stages. You can use up 2-3 dowels on the larger size Fish-Masks.

Get Tying!

The next time you are tying with EP Fiber, craft fur, baitfish synthetics, or Body Tubing, use these simple objects to cut down your production time and get back to your vise more quickly, or better yet, out fishing!

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About Dennis Gamboa:

Dennis Gamboa is a professional commercial fly tyer based in Vancouver, BC. His upcoming book, "The Commercial Tyer — Trade Secrets Revealed" is scheduled to be released in 2019. He’s been tying flies for more than 25 years, in addition to teaching fly tying for over 20 years. His home-based business, The Fly Box, produces over 50,000 flies per year. An avid fisherman, Dennis casts in local waters for salmon, trout, and bass. He travels the world to cast for bones and GT's. He's part of the Flymen Fishing Company CFT Program and a pro tyer for The Canadian Llama Company. His creativity and design earned him a spot on the Lagartun Pro Staff team and he is one of the newest members of the Partridge Pro Team with Partridge of Redditch to represent the West Coast of Canada. He has published fly work in BC Outdoors magazine and is featured in Toni Lolli's Book "The Art of the Fishing Fly" (2018).

  • Post author
    Dennis Gamboa
  • fly fishingfly tying

Comments on this post (19)

  • Jul 11, 2018

    Appreciate. Sign me up.

    — tom horan

  • Jun 20, 2018

    I look forward to your next group of tips.
    Thanks

    — George Gordon

  • Jun 19, 2018

    Fantastic tips! Sign me up!

    — Mike San Luis

  • Jun 17, 2018

    Love it these little “tips and tricks” that are super helpful!!

    — Randy Seller

  • Jun 01, 2018

    sign me up.

    — John McCoppin

  • May 29, 2018

    Sign me up

    — Rich meyerpeter

  • May 28, 2018

    Sign me up

    — Max Lytle

  • May 28, 2018

    Great tips! Some of them were “dang, why didn’t I think of that?” Very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    — Allen Vessels

  • May 25, 2018

    Sure saves lots of time and effort. Thanks

    — Ralph E Griffin

  • May 25, 2018

    Great info. Better learning it from a pro than doing it trial and error. Looking forward to the next mailing.

    — Jim Hanley

  • May 25, 2018

    Excellent article! Book should be a winner.👍

    — Tony Zahran

  • May 25, 2018

    Love the regular e-mails with tips. I’m new at this, and I learn something every time.

    — Craig Phillips

  • May 25, 2018

    I have been tying for 72 years and am still learning. The clothes pin idea is a good one. Been using a cauterizer for years and would not be without one. Keep the tips coming.

    — Bob Miller

  • May 25, 2018

    Dennis,

    thank you for sharing these tips and your knowledge with us. It is very much appreciated!

    — David White

  • May 25, 2018

    Retained in the Novice school of Fly Tying … but, always interested in other tiers tips and efficiency, Thanks. Would read more tiers tips!

    — Max Hearn

  • May 25, 2018

    Cool

    — Walter hedegaard

  • May 25, 2018

    Thanks
    Always appreciate good tips

    Eddie Chiles

    — eddie chiles

  • May 25, 2018

    Would like to learn more of your secrets to fly tying.

    — Steve Bush

  • May 25, 2018

    Intermeadiate tyer always looking to improve and for unique techniques.Its hard to imagine the number of flies you tie each year.

    — Bill Sykes

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