So you want to learn to tie kebari patterns and fill your fly box. Welcome to the Tenkara Grasshopper Fly Box where I will teach you to tie the kebari and flies I carry each day. Before we can start tying kebari we will need to gather a few basic tools. With this small selection of tools you can start filling your fly box in short order.
The Tools to fill the Fly Box
The fly tying bench is not a necessity but it does allow you to stay more organized. A bench gives you a perfectly flat surface that a fly tying vise will sit on. With all of the materials I have collected over the years keeping things organized has become paramount to maintaining my sanity.
I am currently using the “Rainbow” from Finest Fly Tying Benches of Colorado. Check out my review from when I first got the bench here. I am also using the Side Caddy which has been one of the best accessories I have purchased.
I do also have the Finest Fly Tying Benches of Colorado Laptop Traveler which I use when tying at events or when exploring away from home.
A fly tying vise is definitely one of the most important tools a kebari tyer needs. A vise is used to hold a hook while you are tying a kebari. There are those who have learned and even perfected tying in the hand. This is really cool to watch but not something I am any good at and would not suggest learning this if you are just starting out.
The vise I am using on my bench is the Peak Rotary Vise with the Pedestal Base. This was a gift to myself many years ago as I got deeper into the world of fly tying. I have been extremely pleased with this vise designed by Al Ritt. I will be using this vise to the end of my days as a kebari tying.
The hand tools needed to tie kebari are small in number but all are still very important. These tools can be purchased either individually or in sets. There is an ongoing discussion on whether purchasing individual tools or a set is better. I am going cover the tools individually and let you make the decision on how to buy them.
Bobbin holders come in two primary designs, one just a metal tube and the other having a ceramic ring in the top. I prefer the ceramic ring bobbin holder for one major reason. Small burrs can form in the opening of the bobbin holder tube, increasing the chance of cutting the fly tyers thread. A bobbin holder with ceramic in the ring decreases the likelihood of a cut thread but there is still a possibility of this occurring.
Scissors are an indispensable tool that every tier needs in their arsenal of tools. There are many different tip styles and even finger hole styles. For most of my fly tying I use a straight tip as seen in the image to the right.
When purchasing a pair of scissors, the tier needs to make sure that the finger loops fit comfortably over the fingers and thumb. If the thumb loop is too tight, getting the scissors off can become annoying very quickly.
A fly tyers scissors are extremely sharp and need to be taken care of. Ultimately, you will end up with multiple scissors for different tasks don’t rush out and buy multiple scissors quite yet.
To save time when tying, I have found that keeping the scissors in my hand is extremely helpful. This is something that has taken a long time to practice with consistency but I am getting better.
Bodkins are a tyers best friend as it is a multi-purpose tool. I use it primarily as a way of putting head cement on the kebari to keep the thread from unraveling. I also use the bodkin as an assistant when tying a half hitch knot on a fly.1
A Bodkin can also be used to pick fibers out of thread that has been wrapped into the kebari accidentally. And, in a pinch, it can be used to remove a piece of lettuce from between your teeth after eating BLT!
When using the bodkin to put head cement on a kebari you just want to dip the tip into the jar of head cement. You don’t need much cement to extend the life of your fly.
The whip finisher is a tool used to create a particular knot at the head of a kebari.
Whip finishing is one of the more durable techniques to finish the head of a kebari. Learning the whip finish does take a bit of practice. Patience is a virtue when it comes to learning how to use the whip finisher.
Whip finishing has been one of those techniques that has extended the life of my kebari. I think you will find that same thing as well.
I use hackle pliers when wrapping small pieces of hackle onto a hook. Because some of the hackle I use is so fine I need all the help I can get to hold on it.
When looking to purchase this tool I would suggest a rubber coated tip. I make this suggestion because I find the uncoated tips to not hold the hackle feather solidly and in some cases even cut the hackle. There is nothing more frustrating than an escaped hackle or a cut hackle when you are near completion of tying a kebari.
There are a number of handle variations in hackle pliers. I use both an english hackle plier shape which has a more rectangular design to it. I also use the Dr. Slick Hackle Plier pictured to the right. The handle shape, in my humble opinion, is really up to the individual tier.
Getting your hands on the basic tools listed above will launch you into the amazing world of fly tying. With time and experience I can guarantee that you will add a few more tools to your bench. Have fun with selecting your tools and if you have any questions ask the tiers here or on social media for advice oen tool selection.
If you have any suggestions for tools not listed here leave a comment below.
If you are looking to purchase any of the tools listed above, they are all available through Avidmax.com. There are links both in the tool title and on the image to the right of the description.