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

Some of the tools used are normal and the novice is able to understand what they could be used for. Such as scissors, pliers, thread. But what in the world is a bodkin?

Below, we’re going to 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 downbound or 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. Meaning you can get change and maneuver every small detail of your fly.

It is truly one of the handiest tools that you can have with you in your fly tying arsenal. You will use this in just about every tie you plan on doing and will use it so much you should invest in a bodkin cleaning tool and have one 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 as a burnishing tool on your flies. 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 will come with either a narrow or a fine point on the tip of the needle. These points are going to help you split threads while you are dubbing.

What Makes a Good Fly Tying Bodkin

Below, we’re going to go over a few different features that you should be looking for when purchasing a bodkin. Each of these is going to 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 further 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, you will able to find some that 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 handle is going to be depending on what you prefer as a fly tyer. If one surface is more comfortable in your hands then it will result in a better tying experience.

The main types of handles are going to be made of either, plastic, wood, or metal. Plastic will usually be the lightest so that one would be 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 those hard to reach spots then this is the one for you.

A non-flexible needle is going to allow you to apply more pressure than one that is flexible. This is great for smoothing out any lumps that may have occurred while tying your fly.

Needle Point

Bodkins come in two different types of needlepoint. Those are fine points and narrow points. Despite the name, bodkins don’t actually have a needle at the end of them as 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. Despite the tip not being made like a sewing needle, it is still very sharp and needs to be capped when not in use.

Also, the handle should have some sort of shape to it like a hex. This doesn’t allow it to roll off the table while you’re tying. Which could result in some stepping on the needle and hurting themselves.

Best Fly Tying Bodkins

Below we’re going to 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

One of the most well known and trusted names in the fly fishing world and the fly tying world is Loon. 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 feel like you need to but is strong to apply some pressure on those really tough jobs. This might be one of the best bodkins out there.



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.



Dr. Slick Bodkin

Dr. Slick Bodkin - Brass

Coming in four different handle types, Dr. Slick Bodkin gives the options 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. These needs are slightly shorter than what you normally see. They are only five inches. So if you like short bodkins then this is the one for you.



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

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!