In the past—the recent past, as a matter of fact—the only way to get a close-up view of a talented fly tier working at the vise was spending face-time with a talented fly tier. But thanks to many generous fly anglers posting videos on the internet, there has never been more or better fly tying information available. That said, the videos vary wildly in quality, with some being decidedly more watchable than others. Here are a few of my favourite sites.
Some of the very best fly-tying videos are by Tightline Productions. Tightline’s 200-plus videos are professionally shot, lit, edited and narrated, and the ties are straightforward, with more than 70 nymph, streamer and dry-fly patterns, including both classics and innovative modern flies. By the way, I discovered the site a few years ago when, at 11 P.M. the night before a fly-in trip for pike, I was tying to figure out how to properly tie a Lefty’s Deceiver. (I did, and the Deceivers were absolutely lethal, especially in white and chartreuse.)
One of Tightline’s frequent fly tiers, Matt Grobert, also has his own website at CaddisChronicles.com, which has a few additional videos. Not surprisingly, it’s heavy on the caddis patterns, but Grobert is a terrific tier and, once again, the videos are top-notch.
If you’ve mastered the classics and are looking for fresh, sometimes unconventional flies to try, guide Richard Strolis of Catching-Shadows.com might be your guy. A self-described fly-fishing fanatic fly designer, his site has almost 100 videos showcasing his “own personal patterns, and time tested patterns with some added flare.” Again, the quality of both the videos and the fly tying is very good, and Stolis has some promising original patterns. As a fan of beefy steamers, I’ve already bookmarked both the Meat Helmet Sculpin and the Bloodied Baitfish.
For true novices, Copper Fly has something a little different instead of patterns, its video page has short clips demonstrating basic skills, such as starting the tying thread, tying the half-hitch and whip-finish knots.