The world of fly tying can be overwhelming to people just starting out. There are so many different types of materials and tools used that it can be too much.

Some of the tools and materials are normal, and the novice can figure out what they’re used for. These include scissors, pliers, and thread. But what in the world is a bodkin?

Below, I’ll go over exactly what it is and what you should be looking for when purchasing your very own bodkin.

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What Is a Bodkin?

A bodkin is used to free up tied down or bound hackle fibers. Essential, a bodkin is a needle that has a handle attached to it, so the user can manipulate the tool more efficiently.

Having this “needle with a handle” allows you to alter and change all of your work at a minuscule level. This means that you can get change and maneuver every small detail of your fly.

It’s truly one of the handiest tools that you can have with you in your fly tying arsenal. You’ll use it just about every time you tie flies, and you’ll use it so much that you should invest in a bodkin cleaning tool and keep it in your fly tying desk.

When to Use a Bodkin

There are so many different types of ways you can use a bodkin. You can use it to apply or remove varnish from all different types of flies, or you can use it to move around the different types of fibers and get them in the right place.

You can also use the bodkin on your flies as a burnishing tool. This allows you to smooth out any lumps or bumps on your fly. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as it can bend the needle.

A bodkin can also split threads very easily. Most bodkins have either a narrow or a fine point on the tip of the needle. These points will help you split threads while you’re dubbing.

What Makes a Good Fly Tying Bodkin?

Below, I’ll go over a few different features that you should be looking for when purchasing a bodkin. Each of these will help you with your fly tying.

Length of the Bodkin

How long the needle or the handle of your bodkin is mainly depends on your personal preference. If you enjoy working farther away from your fly, then a longer one will be better for you.

The best bodkin fly tying tools come in the size of six inches. However, some are shorter or longer. The six inch length is most commonly used.

Handle Material

The best bodkin tool has a solid handle. Similar to the length of the bodkin, the material of the handle depends on what you prefer as a fly tier. If one surface is more comfortable in your hands, then it will result in a better tying experience.

The main types of handles are made of either plastic, wood, or metal. Plastic is usually the lightest, so it’s great for longer tying sessions.

Needle Flexibility

There are two different types of needles in the bodkin world: flexible and non-flexible. If you want to be able to bend your needle to get into hard-to-reach spots, then the flexible type is the one for you.

A non-flexible needle will allow you to apply more pressure than the flexible one. It’s great for smoothing out any lumps that may have occurred while tying your fly.

Needle Point

Bodkins have two different types of needle point. They are fine points and narrow points. Despite the name, bodkins don’t actually have a needle at the end of them like a sewing needle does. Instead, they’re all rounded.

The fine point is great for working on smaller jobs, such as clearing the eye of the hook from any adhesive that may have gotten trapped inside while you were tying your fly.

Safety and Handle Shape

The bodkin should also come with some sort of rubber cap that can go on over the needle. Although the tip isn’t like a sewing needle, it’s still very sharp and needs to be capped when not in use.

Also, the handle should have some sort of shape like a hex. This will keep it from rolling off the table while you’re tying, so you won’t step on the needle and hurt yourself.

Best Fly Tying Bodkins

Below I’ll go over some of the best bodkins for fly tying. See which one you like best and add it to your fly tying case!

Loon Outdoors Ergo Bodkin

Loon Outdoors Ergo Bodkin

Loon is one of the best known and most trusted names in the fly fishing world. Like their other products, this bodkin features their bright yellow coloring and a great handle for extra grip.

The Loon Outdoors Ergo Bodkin is light enough that you can apply a delicate touch whenever you need to, and it’s strong to apply some pressure on those really tough jobs. This might be one of the best bodkins out there.

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Creative Angler Bodkin

Creative Angler Bodkin Brass for Fly Tying

The Creative Angler Bodkin is a great bodkin for someone who is looking to start out in the fly tying world. It comes at a low price point, so you don’t have to worry about spending too much money on a basic list of tools.

The tool is made of brass, and the handle is shaped into a hex pattern, meaning it won’t easily fall off the table while you’re tying.

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Dr. Slick Bodkin

Dr. Slick Bodkin - Brass

Coming with four different handle types, Dr. Slick Bodkin gives you the option to choose exactly what material you prefer to have on your bodkin handle.

Bamboo, brass, stainless steel, and aluminum are all used in different handles. At only five inches, they’re slightly shorter than what you normally see. So, if you like short bodkins, then this is the one for you.

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Conclusion

Bodkins are an essential tool in the fly tying world. They’re versatile and can be used for many different things and to tie many different flies.

So, now that you know how important they are, you should head down to your local fly shop and pick up the best bodkin tool for fly tying!