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