Tungsten Carbide Arrow Scissors from Dr. Slick
Tungsten Carbide Arrow Scissors from Dr. Slick

There are so many varieties of fly tying scissors available that choosing a pair can be confusing. We’ll attempt to explain the different styles and shed some light on picking out the right scissors for your needs. As you read this, keep in mind that choosing the right scissors has a lot to do with personal preference. Many styles have the same size blades, but there are some offerings that work a little better for certain situations.

All Purpose Scissors, as the name suggests, are designed for a range of cutting needs. Similar to Hair Scissors, they measure 4 inches long overall whereas Hair Scissors are 4 ½ inches long. This can make a difference, depending on the bulk or thickness of material you are cutting. Since All Purpose Scissors have the same blades as Hair Scissors, you can use them for deer hair and other natural materials if needed. However you want Hair Scissors to remain as sharp as possible, so it is a good idea to only use them for that purpose only and nothing else. That way they remain sharp and you get a smoother cut when cutting natural materials such as deer hair.

Arrow Scissors were originally designed for close up work. Their blades are often the same size as those of other styles but some now have a Micro Tip. These are the best for close up work and are narrower at the tip than the original Arrow style of scissors. These are especially useful when working on very small dry flies or nymphs. The original Arrow style can still be quite useful and the notch at the base of the blades is handy for cutting wire or lead.

Tungsten Carbide Scissors are made from extra hard steel which helps them stay sharper longer. They are available in the basic styles (All purpose, Hair or Arrow). Being more durable, they are considered better quality than other steel scissors and command a higher price.

Razor Scissors are a unique style that have a tension knob on the pivot point so you can adjust the tension of the blades. Many tiers really love this option and it can come in very handy. You might have noticed a pair of scissors that you use for a long period of time become loose and will not cut as well. If you have Razor Scissors, you can just tighten the scissors with the adjustment knob and quickly remedy this issue. These scissors also have extra sharp blades, often made from higher grade steel.

A choice of smooth or serrated blades is available, with serrated being most common. Basically serrated blades grab the material better than smooth, unless the smooth blades are extra sharp. You will see a difference if you test the two side by side. Grab some strands of material and make a straight cut with both. The smooth blades have a tendency to squeeze the material out toward the blade point while the serrated will keep it in place and make the cut. There are scissors available that have one blade serrated and the other smooth; one blade is usually enough to grab a hold of the material. We recommend you try both and see what works best for you.

Our Economy JS Tools Large Loop Scissors
Our Economy JS Tools Large Loop Scissors

There are a variety of handles or loop styles to suit your personal preference. You can choose from open loops which are adjustable in size, large loops, plated steel, painted handles, or rubber grip handles. All of these have to do with the feel they have in your hand. It’s a good idea to experiment and see what feels and works best for your hand and use.

We hope this brief article helps explain some of the various features available in fly tying scissors today. You can always find the right fly tying scissors for your needs @ J Stockard.  Happy tying!

5 Comments

  1. Excellent information. I would add that it’s wise to have a pair of heavy-duty scissors for cutting particularly thick or tough materials, and another pair designed for fine, precise cutting. Any time you have to force a cut with scissors, you run the risk of dulling them or, worse, springing the blades out of alignment.

  2. Thank you for the explanation of different scissors, especially the difference in arrow tip and micro tip. A pair of arrow tip scissors that I have are narrower on one blade, but certainly not micro tipped.
    I also appreciate some of the other articles, videos, and charts you have published on your website. The best of these is the thread chart, published in 2018.

  3. I’ve accumulated quite an array of scissors over the years, most of which don’t get a lot of use. There are a few I rely on. For average, routine tying work there are any number of scissors that will perform adequately. It’s at the fine end and the heavy end that having the right scissor becomes important. I would not want to be without my pair of Dr. Slick Synthetic Scissors. Don’t let the name throw you. They have stout blades that handle cutting thick clumps of deer hair or bucktail with aplomb. Yet they are fine enough at the tip to allow a fair amount of precision. Any job that they are precise enough to do, I use them for. This saves a lot of wear-and-tear on my middle-range scissors. On the fine end, micro-tip scissors are definitely the way to go. I have an ancient pair of surgical iris scissors that were given to me by one of my fly fishing mentors, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I use them only for the most delicate and precise work, and they’ve held up beautifully. I can remove a single, errant hackle fiber with ease. Of course the Dr. Slick micro-tip products have a similar origin, the medical instruments industry, and will perform this function very well.

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