When I began tying flies, I was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. Part of the government budget sequestration in 2013 meant that my USAF fighter squadron was grounded for six months. Bad, because I loved flying and instructing in the A-10 Warthog. Good, because I had the opportunity to fly fish more and begin learning how to tie my own flies.
They may exist, but trying to find a fly fishing community in the desert was like casting flies in the community swimming pool. It’s a nice effort, but there’s nothing there. Nearly all of my fly fishing during this time was done after a long drive to Southwest Utah. This led me to become a self-taught fly tyer who leaned heavily on YouTube videos for instruction.
Why specific places online? Why not just Google or YouTube “How to tie a Hares Ear” and press on with life?
In my experience there are many ways to tie the same fly. Seeing and attempting different techniques helps you decide which method works best for both your preference and skill level.
Also, even though there are hundreds, and probably thousands, of videos floating around the web, not all of them are created with the beginner in mind. Not all of them “teach” you how to tie flies. Many simply “show” you how to tie a specific fly.
These five places are not all inclusive, but I find them each to be unique in their presentation and the value that they bring to a budding student of fly tying. Each has their unique strengths, but all five of them provide some level of instruction as they go along in the videos. As a beginner fly tyer myself, this is a big reason why I gravitate to these online resources.
A Few Caveats.
Although most of these five fly fishing outfits provide more than fly tying videos, such as fly tying materials, or fishing gear, this article focusses on the value they bring the beginner fly tyer through their free YouTube videos. To utilize them, you can either type something into Google like “YouTube Hares Ear Jim Misiura”, type into YouTube search “Hares Ear InTheRiffle”, or you can go to their websites or YouTube channels and look for what you want. Most all have categories to help narrow down your search efforts.
I still believe there is tremendous value in searching for other videos for tying flies. Some extremely talented individuals and guide shops are putting out very educational fly tying videos and many times this is where I pick up little tricks I might not find other places. This is especially true if you are searching for a pattern that might not be as known, as popular, or is unique to a specific river’s hatch.
Finally, I do not receive any money from endorsing these places. None of the links below are affiliate.
Where I Go Online to Tie Flies.
Jim Misiura. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChBe08TywiYfR5M_3P2dBig
This guy is absolutely amazing for the true beginner fly tyer. I cannot say enough good things about how much these videos helped me. I watched Jim’s fly tying videos a ton in the beginning. The big benefit for me was that whatever fly I was trying to tie, Jim Misiura’s “beginner (fill in the blank) fly”, always ended up being the simplest and easiest to master. As a beginner, this was gold. It brought some quick confidence and kept things simple. I still tie many of my flies with the same technique that Jim taught me. In my fly tying experience, the KISS principal applies.
I group these two together because in my opinion they are very similar. Similarly awesome! This is because both have very solid YouTube videos on tying flies. They are both incredible resources and great places for a beginner or any fly tyer to end up when looking to tie a new fly. They have excellent instruction and a wide variety of patterns. I think that InTheRiffle may have an very slight edge on the amount of variations of a specific fly they present videos for. Tightlinevideo does a little bit better job of presenting the materials required at the beginning of the video.
For the beginner, though, I would not get too caught up in tying slightly different versions of the same fly or using the precisely same materials as the video. I find picking a pattern that you are comfortable with and have the right materials for and then repeatedly tying it, is the best way to gain proficiency.
Both InTheRiffle and Tightlinevideo have great YouTube channels with well organized, professional videos that you will learn from.
The folks at FlyFishFood are true artists. They are all about tying quality flies with quality materials and it shows in their fly tying videos. They have a large library of videos including many more exotic and complex patterns including an array of saltwater flies. Although I don’t tie too many fancy flies myself (yet), I always seem to learn a bit more from watching their videos, and they definitely have plenty of the basic fly tying videos available as well. What I like most about FlyFishFood, besides their obvious passion, is the amount of detailed guidance and information they provide while tying. Often, they get very specific on their techniques and materials. Not just explaining what to do while tying a certain fly, but also why they do it.
Okay, it is not technically YouTube, but Orvis has extremely professional and well-made fly tying videos available online. I would love to tell you that the big brands are over-rated, and not as useful as you would think, but I just cannot. Orvis fly tying videos are informative, inclusive, and elaborate in both the breath of flies they present, and the organization of material. Visiting Orvis Fly Tying is like going to an encyclopedia of videos broken down into various logical categories such as dry flies or nymphs.
One awesome chapter they have is on fly tying techniques. Here they cover almost all the simple tasks that will be required for tying most flies, such as how to use the whip finisher or the pinch wrap. Many times, if I am learning to tie a new fly and I am having trouble with a certain task required in tying it, I will pause my video and go to the Orvis techniques to figure out how to proceed or what I am doing wrong. Not only is Orvis well organized, they have instructions for nearly all the basic flies with simple methods.
I have listed five online resources that I tend to lean on more than others, but there are many other great videos for tying flies online. Just typing into YouTube and Google will bring many results of how to tie the fly you are learning. That is how I found all the online resources I recommended. But it was the years of practice that made me appreciate these a bit more than others.
Hopefully, this article saves you some of the time that I spent searching for not only videos on how to tie a fly, but videos that would teach me how to tie moving forward.
I would love to hear from you if you have other great online resources for tying flies. Wadeoutthere and remember to A.B.T. Always. Be. Tying.
Jeff SliwoskiDecember 21, 2019 at 7:11 pm
Great article dude…I especially like the R2FS strategy. I know which flies I need on my favorite river and your article makes it seem less overwhelming to get started tying my own. Now I need to quit being a wuss and take a shot at a few! Keep up the great work!!
Jason ShemchukDecember 21, 2019 at 10:17 pm
ABT my friend. Always. Be. Tying. You’ll love it. Thanks for reading.
A Fly Fishing Mentor. - WADEOUTTHEREJanuary 31, 2020 at 3:59 pm
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Brien BrownAugust 15, 2021 at 2:07 pm
I would also add Kelly Galloup at Slide Inn to those five. Down to earth, honest,no B. S. Explains what you need and why you don’t. Met him at his shop years ago, the best experience of my trip
Jason ShemchukAugust 15, 2021 at 2:48 pm
Yes. I’ve seen his videos as well. Very informative and also an excellent resource. I think I may need to write part 2….
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Jim MisiuraOctober 29, 2021 at 9:08 am
Thanks very much for your support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
Jason ShemchukNovember 11, 2021 at 12:59 pm
Thank you Jim! Your videos helped me incredibly as a beginner tyer. I always went back to the simple patterns you gave examples of. They provided the small victories I needed to catch fish with my own flies and to try new things on the vise as well. I am truly grateful. Thanks for reading and for reaching out.