Fly Tying 101 A Lot Like Water Ballet

I am  in Nashville for the holidays so my dad sat me down at the vise for my first ever fly tying lesson. I’ve been wanting my own stash of buzzballs – as many as I want, whenever I want – so I am now inspired to try my hand at tying. So far, I’ve only watched him tie two buzzballs, but I already know my favorite part is going to be palmering.

water ballet Palmering is beautiful! The vise rotates and the hackle unfurls in a uniform motion, fanning out in a perfect three-dimensional pattern. Like a well-choreographed water ballet routine, it evolves right before your very eyes. I love it.

The recipe for the LaFontaine Buzzball is explained quite well in this video by my friends at Headhunters. My dad followed it to the letter:

hackle palmering 1

palmering 2 PC210089


I’m excited to give this a try. Stay tuned friends, as soon as I can find a break in the holiday hoohaw, I am going to channel my Inner Esther Williams and palmer the night away at the vise…


12 Responses to “Fly Tying 101 A Lot Like Water Ballet”
  1. Rob says:

    Looks like a little wooly bugger or seaducer.

    Check out my buddy Matt Wirt’s site for fly tying videos:
    He’s really good at teaching and showing how to tie. Larger saltwater flies are easier me thinks.

  2. Glista says:

    Can’t wait to see what you tie up this winter. We will be expecting some winter fly tying posts. :)

  3. Be careful, be very careful – you are starting down a very slippery road for which there is no way back – I mean tying flies. Once you start nothing else is good enough unless you caught it and you tied it. Heck, I am already tying flies for a trip to Long Key in April while I wait for my materials to come in to tie woolly grubbers and slumpbusters for spring smallmouth. You start with fizzballs and woolly buggers and before you know it, you are tying anything you can get a pattern on and have half a room full of furs, feathers, thread and all kinds of glittery stuff. I know, I have the addiction.

  4. Jim@FFO says:

    Wish I had a decent shop nearby, but I have to rely on the intertubes for supplies. Never thought my tying area would look like I collected roadkill but the real drug dealers are the dudes who sell materials online (Hook&Hackle, coffin creek, etc.). Ebay will clean out your wallet for hooks and thread too.

  5. Harry says:

    LSU flyfisher is right. It’s an addiction. Before long you will have piles of materials and find yourself constantly on the lookout for cheap materials. I am also an addict.

    On the bright side though, I bet you can get a great list of economical places and materials from your readers!

  6. JGR says:

    I’m surprised you are now just getting into tying. I started about five years ago and have become so wrapped up in it that I’ve started helping out with classes in my fly-fishing club. The good part is that it will save you a fortune if you are a heavy fly fisher OR if you’re like me and hang flies up in trees and under rocks.

    Try Hook and Hackle for your basics. They give a discount if you buy online. A good beginner book to try is one of the Skip Morris books.

  7. love all the feedback and direction! excited to delve into this new layer of the addiction. which is, of course, not what I need….another all-consuming passion that keeps me from responsible chores and money-making ventures

    c’est la vie

    yall will be the first to know when I try my hand at the vise!! I can’t wait to start inventing patterns because I have been storing up good fly names for years. the list morphed somewhere along the way–it used to be a list of good band names. now, flies….

    hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirits (oops! I mean “spirit”!!)

  8. Monty Montana says:

    I will only add one small detail…ROADKILL…you live in the roadkill mecca. You can get some great tying materials on your way home form the honky tonks on firday or saturday or monday or any damn time.
    Yea I got it too….addicted up to my butt.

    Monty Montana

  9. can you tie a fly with armadillo?

  10. jeff says:

    Chick, I think you should consider hosting a fly-swap. One of my pals at the Upland Journal does a swap every year.

    The experience level varies from newbie to professional-tyer. It isn’t a competition, so much as a community function…something I bet your fans would enjoy.

    See the flies from the 2009 swap here:;f=10;t=48710


  11. Aubrey Kornn says:

    This is a useful blog, I located your web site doing research aol for a similar topic and came to this. I couldnt get to much additional information on this post, so it was good to discover this one. I will certainly be returning to look at some other articles that you have another time.

  12. I really love fly fishing. The reason I love fly fishing is that it requires a certain skill to get it right. Another thing about fly fishing is around here where I live, nobobdy hardly does it. My favorite fish to catch are Trout. Great post.

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