Fly tying thread is easily the most important aspect to consider when it comes to material tying flies. This is of course besides the hook itself. The reason it’s so important is the best fly tying thread is going to hold all the materials in place.
It can be a little confusing starting out. There are a lot of different buzz words that float around in the tying world that a novice would not understand. Such as single vs multi-strand, waxed vs non-waxed, or denier.
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Simply put, thread matters. So, below we have compiled a short list of the best fly tying threads you can purchase, as well as some explanations of some of the keywords so you know what to ask for when approaching a fly shop associate.
If you’re new to fly tying, or looking to take your flies to the next level, be sure to check out our Fly Tying Section which has everything you need to know about becoming an expert tyer.
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Things To Know About The Best Fly Tying Thread
Now that we’ve gone over a few different types of thread lets talk more about the features of each type. Thread can become surprisingly confusing, so below we’re going to break it down.
Single vs Multi-Strand Threads
Both of these have there own pros and cons list. However, the single strand is going to be easier to tie with. Especially for a novice. Multi-strands will usually lay flatter on the shank than a single thread.
Because the breaking strength is higher on the multi it can be difficult to work with though. A multi-strand thread can start to fray if you’re not careful. This is caused by wrapping too tightly or knicking the hook.
Most thread is made with multiple parallel fibers. Meaning that it will have some twist to it. If you would like then you can flatten it. This will make it easier for you to produce a smooth head on the fly.
Bonded thread is semi-round and is created by bonding filaments together. It will be round when it comes off the spool, but if you warm it up in your hands then it will lie flat on the shank of the hook. Bonded thread is much more abrasion-resistant.
If you don’t want a twist in a multi-strand thread then all you have to do is spin the dobbin. When the thread is twisted there is going to be less prone to fray. When flattened out it’s going to be flatter and easier to work with.
There are several different types of material you can use for fly tying, but the big three are nylon, polyester, and kevlar. Nylon and polyester are both cheap and strong. Making them ideal pieces of material for all fly tyers.
Nylon will typically have a little more stretch than polyester. Make it a little bit easier to work with. You’ll find that Kevlar is super strong and has no stretch to it. Like we said earlier, it can be a pain to work with but it’s great for large flies.
There is one extra piece of thread. It’s relatively new and is not used all the much, but it is worth mentioning. It is Gel Spun Polyethelyne. Otherwise known as GSP.
It is extremely strong. It used to be that thread strength was determined by its size and thickness. This is not the case with GSP. A piece of GSP the same diameter as polyester or nylon will easily outproduce it.
For being as strong as it is it can be difficult to work with. You have to be really comfortable tying flies and using tough materials to really get a good fly out of this. It’s also more expensive. However, if you can foot the bill and tie it then you’ll love it.
Most fly tyers use the smallest diameter as possible. This is because the smaller the thread the less bulk and size you’re going to add to your fly. The exception to this rule is when you’re tying creature patterns.
Below we go over the different sizes and what they could be used for.
These can be very difficult for tyers to work with. This is because they are so big and bulky. Not ideal for a novice and even pros could have trouble with them. That being said, they’re incredibly strong and durable.
These are ideal for saltwater flies or other big game species.
This is another very strong thread. Ideal for use on streamer patterns, on Wooly Buggers or also on terrestrials. You can use this when working on synthetics and can be wound tightly without the fear of fraying.
A 6/0 is still considered a strong and durable thread. This is ideal for a medium-sized fly that uses natural materials. It is strong enough to hold down any natural fibers while also not adding any extra bulk to your flies.
This is considered a thread of average strength. When you think of the best thread for fly tying this is it. This is the one that all tyers use because it’s just that versatile. Plan to have a few rolls of this in your arsenal.
A very fine and delicate thread. This is going to be used on smaller nymphs and dry flys. This may not be the best thread for fly tying beginners. Be careful when tying because you could snap the line if wound too tightly. It will not have the strength to hold down bulky materials.
Waxed Vs Non-Waxed
Tying thread comes in these two varieties. Waxed is going to be a little bit easier to work with. This is especially true when working with materials that you have a hard time with. The reason for this is the wax sticks to the materials and holding them in place.
A non-waxed thread is going to be cleaner. This because they will not pick up any type of dirt, sand, or other material from around your fly tying station. Unlike waxed thread.
However, a nonwaxed thread will also have less bulk and will be able to work with glue much easier than a waxed based thread. If you’re a beginner then a waxed based thread would be nice to start off with, but graduating to non-waxed should be the goal.
For a decent comparison of different fly tying threads, check out This Chart by JS Fly Fishing.
An aspect of tying that gets forgotten by beginners is the denier. Which is easy to understand because it’s not something you would just know. The denier is the weight in grams of 9000 meters of polyester or nylon thread.
Basically, if you see two pieces of thread that look identical, but one says 30 denier and the other says 70 denier then know that the 70 is stronger than the 30.
So a thread that is 3/0 size is going to have a denier of 180. Where a thread that is a 10/0 is going to have a denier of 60.
Best Fly Tying Thread
Now that you know the most important parts about shopping for the best fly tying thread, I’ll list a few threads that I always like to have on my bench. These are great all-around threads for any fly tyer.
- Pros – Great for large flies
- Cons – Difficult to use on smaller nymphs and dries
The Uni Thread Waxed 3/0 Thread is perfect for tying larger dries or streamers. Anything that can be tied with a size 12 or larger hook. This is a strong thread that can hold up and keep your fly usable. Even if you have caught several fish on one fly.
This is made of the same material as a 6/0 or 8/0 thread. However, the only difference is that it is stronger and has an increased number of filaments on the 100-yard spools.
If you enjoy tying streamers or other baitfish imitations then this is the thread for you. This thread also comes in waxed. Which means you can get a better grip on the material when tying.
Be careful though, because wax can also cause clog dobbins and add extra and unneeded bulk to your fly. It really is just up to you and what you prefer.
- Pros – Great for tying smaller flies
- Cons – Difficult to work with if you’re a novice
Ideal for tying smaller flies like midges, or small dries that you want to throw on backwater streams. Where the bugs are plentiful but might not be as a big as a tailwater or a spring-fed river.
Because the material is so small and fine it can be difficult to tie with. Even for the most advanced tier. So, if you’re new to tying and want a challenge then this could be a great wat to get good.
Otherwise, you’re better off starting with a larger thread instead of this one. It could lead to frustration and headaches.
- Pros – A great all-around thread
- Cons – Difficult to use for specialty flies
The Uni Thread 6/0 is great for all-around fly tying. Feel free to use this on nymphs, dries, streamers, or anything you can concoct at your fly tying station. Perfect for someone new to tying and great for the pro to have on them.
This is made of tough and durable continuous polyester filaments. This thread will lay flat on the hook or it can be twisted by using a bobbin. The 6/0 thread is considered very strong for a thread of its diameter.
Uni 6/0 also comes in waxed or unwaxed. Giving the tyer the option to use whatever they prefer.
Uni thread also comes in many different color schemes. Black, white, and olive are going to be the most popular and most used. However, if you want to tie something a different color then just know that uni thread has you covered.
- Pros – Strong and durable
- Cons – color can fade quickly in the sun
You read that right. The Fly Shack Kevlar Thread is made out of the same material as a bulletproof vest. Kevlar thread is incredibly strong and will give durability and toughness to all of the flys you tie. It has an eight-pound working strength.
This is the ideal thread for use on big flies. It’s even better for use in saltwater or when throwing flies to other toothy predators such as muskie, or pike. If you plan on tying anything for saltwater then you should use this.
Kevlar does not come in waxed, so you may find it difficult to handle at first. However, with a little practice, you should be fine. Be careful and don’t try to break the thread with your hands. It can easily cut you. Use scissors instead.
The Kevlar thread does seem to have an issue with the color lasting. If used enough the sun can start to bleach the thread. Causing what used be a black thread to turn into more of a charcoal or grey color.
- Pros – This is a kit that comes with 16 spools
- Cons – can be difficult to tie
The Phecda Sport Silk Tying Thread comes with 16 spools. Silk tying thread is what some of the original fly tyers used. Since then they have come out with stronger materials that are also cheaper. Such as polyester. However, silk can still be a great thread for tying flies.
If you enjoy tying smaller flies in a delicate manner then silk is the thread for you. It would not be best for a novice to get started since it can break easily. However, it’s a very effective material when tied properly.
This is a great kit. It comes with 10 different colors that you can utilize for your tying station. Allowing you to use whatever color you want in your selection.
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Table of Contents
- Fly Tying Materials
- Things To Know About The Best Fly Tying Thread
- Fly Tying Tutorials
- Best Fly Tying Thread
- 1. Uni Thread Waxed 3/0
- 2. Uni Thread 8/0
- 3. Uni Thread 6/0
- 4. Fly Shack Kevlar Thread
- 5. Phecda Sport Silk Tying Thread (16 Spools)
There is a surprising amount of information and facts out there about fly tying threads. Hopefully, the above information and products allowed you to have a better understanding of how to break into the fly tying world.
Don’t be discouraged by all the information. The best thing to do is go out and buy some basic thread and start tying. You’ll be able to pick it up after you get more comfortable with a dobbin in your hand.
Check out some of the products we have listed above, and head down to your local fly shop, or online store to pick them up!
Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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