Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Mini-Hackle Pliers Make Good Drying Stations

Spring loaded mini-hackle pliers are easily adapted to drying stations for flies under production. Using an old plastic hotel key, loyalty card or in the case of the photo, an expired Florida fishing license, mini pliers are epoxied or super glued to the card to make a drying station. A bit of coarse sand paper can rough up the bottom of the pliers and a spot on the card. A drop of super glue or 5-minute epoxy will hold nicely. They are also useful for fly photography.

Flash Management

When I started fly tying in the early 1960s, there were few mylar materials on the market. Today, mylar flash materials come in an almost infinite variety. From the very fine Angel Hairs to stretchy Krystal Flash to thick Flashabous, I suspect every fly tyer has a hank or two hanging around the fly-tying desk. Even many of the synthetic fur/hair materials come in hanks attached to a card or secured with a plastic cable tie. When I first started accumulating synthetics, I didn’t manage the hanks of materials very well. My first big mistake was cutting short lengths of material from the long pieces. This left lengths of material that were uneven and random. If you need 6 strands of 2” flash, don’t cut off 6 2” lengths of flash. Cut two 8” strands from the top of the hank. Fold in half and then tie in at their midpoint. Fold in half again and secure. If you always cut your synthetic material at the top of the hank you will not be left with random lengths that might not suit your needs and you will know exactly how much you have left.


My vise sits on a thick piece of laminated Oak like a large cutting board. This prevents cements and such from damaging the desk surface as well as elevates the vise a bit. However, containers of cement, pin corks and hair stackers would constantly fall off or get knocked over at the slightest disturbance. To solve the problem, I laid several strips of Velcro hooks along the back edge. Now each small container, hair stacker or pin corks have a small Velcro button on their bottom. Containers and such stay upright and in place ready to go.

Wire 90 Degrees

When winding wire close to the hook eye there is a tendency to just trim the end and cover the end with thread wraps. What I found over years of tying is that the smooth surface of the wire tends to cause the wire to constantly “float” above the thread wraps, no matter how many you make. If the cut end of the wire remains exposed, the sharp edges may eventually damage or cut a tippet. My solution has been to simply make a couple of turns at the hook eye and then bend the wire back 90 degrees over the hook shank. Thread wraps will cover the wire without the wire “floating”. After the head is finished, the wire tag can simply be wiggled until it breaks. This is generally an even cleaner finish than trying to trim the wire with scissors.

I trust the shared advice and experience will be useful.

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