How to Make Your Own Fly Fishing Lures? [Step-by-Step]

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures
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Buying lures is easy and convenient, but making them yourself is a lot more satisfying experience. This is especially true in fly fishing, which itself is a form of art.

Lure making is not an easy task, especially if those lures are small. You will need a lot of patience, and a very steady hand.

To make your own fly fishing lures, first you need to decide what kind of a lure you want, gather the tools and materials, and have a working area with a lot of light. Feathers, hair, and wool are frequently used materials, and you need to wrap them in a specific way to make them work.

Some anglers do it as a hobby, while other are not satisfied with the performance of those available in tackle stores.

No matter what your reason is, making your own lures has many advantages, and you can learn a lot in the process.

So, to know more about how to make fly fishing lures, and what will you need to do it, read the following chapters for more details.

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What Bait Can You Use for Fly Fishing?

When choosing bait for fly fishing, you will have to observe your surroundings and waters you are fishing at. It is important to present baits that imitate flies present in that specific area, and to change them through the season.

Flies hatch, grow, and change, and different species do it in different times, so you have to follow these natural changes with your flies.

You can ask the local fly fishermen; however, their answers will often be a bit subjective. Eventually, your own experience will provide the best answer.

Another thing to consider is what fish species you are trying to catch. Most frequently, anglers target trout, but you can also fly fish for bass, pike, and similar species.

Flies are divided into three main categories:

DRY FLIES

These are the most common ones, and they imitate the adult insects that land and stay on top of the water surface.

TERRSTRIAL BUGS

These are not so popular and common as the dry ones.

Terrestrial bugs imitate land bugs that can be found floating on the water. Same as the previous ones, they are made in a way that they do not sink, usually because of the foam that is a part of their body.

WET FLIES

These are designed to sink below the surface, and imitate insects or small baitfish that is in distress. They are usually divided into nymphs and streamers.

Nymphs are smaller and imitate insects, while streamers are larger an imitate minnows or leaches. Their design is in a way similar, and both stay under the surface.

ATTRACTORS

These “flies” do not imitate real ones, and they come in different colors, usually bright ones, to attract unsuspecting fish fast, before it realizes that something is wrong.

What is the Best Bait for Fly Fishing?

If you are considering spending a lot of time and patience into learning how to make fly lures, you probably want to know what are the best ones, to make those.

There is one very important saying among fly anglers, and that is “match the hatch”. As I already mentioned, your flies should resemble real ones.

When thinking about producing your own, it would be easier to start with larger ones, just because it is easier to handle larger pieces when assembling them.

I can’t tell you what is the best one for your area, but I can provide some guidance on how to choose the best one.

It is almost a science, and you should find information about fly species, together with info about their life stages. There are hundreds of flies available on the market.

Here are some guidelines:

Observe the water and if you see that fish are feeding on a specific insect, you need imitations, not attractors.
Choose a size that imitates the real one.
• Choose those that imitate the motion of the real bugs, and those with the shape of real ones.
• The same goes for the color.

If you notice that fish are feeding on everything, and nothing specific seems to be their favorite meal, you can opt for attractors.

What Do You Need to Make Your Own / Homemade Fly Fishing Lures?

Besides patience and steady hands, you will need some tools.

Before you even start gathering those, go out an buy the strongest light bulb you can find. Fly parts are tiny, and illumination is the key to assemble it right.

So, before telling you how to make homemade fly fishing lures step by step, I will tell you what else you will need.

Here is a list of tools and items:

Vise tool, or something that can hold a hook in place while work is preformed (pliers can be used but it will be much harder).
Tweezers for handling tiny parts.
Scissors.
Fly fishing hook.
Materials for the fly, like feathers, thread (the one for swing can be used however, if you can find one with a similar diameter but stronger, that would be great), dubbing (natural fur, synthetic fibers…).
Head cement (a form of transparent glue).

Materials used for the actual fly, and their color, depend on a type of fly you are making. The same goes for the hook.

I assume you are wondering where to get all of these materials and tools. Some well-equipped tackle stores that sell fly fishing gear often have a decent selection, and that is great if you just want to buy one or two things you are missing.

Those who are complete beginners when it comes to DIY fly fishing lures can get fly making kits (#ad). Kits usually come in boxes and contain everything you will need. Buying those kits cheaper than buying separate items. Many of these can be ordered online, in case you don’t have a tackle store nearby.

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures - Homemade

How to Make Your Own Fly Fishing Lures? [Step-by-Step]

Here I will tell you how to make your own fly fishing lures, step by step.

This example is quite easy (DIY fly fishing lures are never easy to make but this one is good for a beginner), and you can probably get all the necessary items.

You will need: a dry hook (size 14 or similar), brown hackle, brown hackle tips, black thread, and grey dubbing.

I will divide this into four sections / steps.

Step #1: The Wings

1. Place a hook into the vise tool in a way that the shank is free to work on.
2. Start wrapping the thread around the shank from the eye towards the bend by holding the beginning part in one hand while wrapping with the other around the shank and the loose thread part.
3. When you get to the middle part of the shank, stop, and start going up again, but without wrapping the loose part of the thread in, towards the eye, over the part you just wrapped.
4. When you cover half of the wrapped part, stop, and cut of the loose part but leave the one you were just wrapping.
5. Take 2 hackle tips for wings.
6. Wings should be as long as the shank is.
7. Trim the barbs from the rachis (shank of the feather) but not completely, because that tiny part that is left is for friction, so that the lure can hold in place better. Trim the length of the wrapped part of the shank. The feathery part should be positioned towards the eye.
8. Don’t forget that you need 2 wings, so you need to wrap up 2 at the same time.
9. Start wrapping it, from the eye to the bend, just 3-4 wraps, over the part that already has 2 layers of the thread, but leave some space between the first wrap and the barbs so that you can lift the “wings” up.
10. This is the tricky part here, use your fingers to lift up the wings to make them stand up, and tightly wrap a few wraps in front of them too (on the side closer to the eye) and then transfer to the side closer to the bend and continue wrapping.
11. Wrap over the exposed shank part too, until you come close to the bend.
12. Now take a break!

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures - The Wings

Step #2: The Tail

1. Take larger hackles that will serve as a tail, 2 pieces, they can be slightly different in color, like lighter and darker, and use your fingers to “brush” them in the opposite direction of the barbs, to make them loose and airy.
2. Then strongly pull the longest barbs on the feather to remove them from the rachis.
3. Now you have your tail, which is quite small and hard to hold.
4. Place it next to the hook shank, and make sure that the part that is sticking out on the side of the hook bend is as long as the shank.
5. Start wrapping up, from the bend (where you finished wrapping in the previous section) towards the eye.
6. After a few wraps, do the same as you did with wings, to have it wrapped from both sides to make the tail stick up slightly, and then continue again towards the eye.
7. After about 5 wraps, remove the extra length that is sticking towards the wings, but be careful not to cut the wings. Don’t cut too close to the thread, you will wrap it in.
8. Continue wrapping half way towards the wings. If there are places with less thread, wrap a few circles in those spots to make it even.

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures - The Tail

Step #3: The Dubbing

1. Take the dubbing material and wrap it around the thread you will wrap. Make it even and compact by starting from the part closest to the hook and continue working away from it.
2. The tricky part is to determine how much thread length you need to cover with dubbing, so that it covers the hook shank from the tail to the wings, without having extra.
3. Start wrapping the thread covered with dubbing from the tail towards the wings.
4. When you reach the wings, you should have just a thread without the dubbing, and you should once again wrap it both in the back and in the front of the wings (take a few extra wraps in front (next to the hook eye).
5. Leave the thread hanging.

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures - The Dubbing

Step #4: The Head

1. Take 2 long and thin hackles.
2. Trim them in the same way as you trimmed the wing.
3. Place the trimmed part along the shank, between the wings, so that the feathery part is towards the hook bend.
4. Start wrapping from the eye towards the wings, and then behind the wings too until you reach the dubbing, and then go back to the front part. Make sure that you do not wrap the thread all the way to the barbs, and do it as you did the wings.
5. Leave the thread hanging in the front part, take the feathers and start wrapping them around behind the wings, and then in front of the wings, just 2 circles on both side.
6. Barbs should be pointing in all directions as they spread, and it should look “fluffy” around the wings.
7. Tie the hackle in place by wrapping a few circles of thread around the loose part of the feather.
8. Pull the feather towards the hook bend, and wrap a few circles with a thread in front of it. Then cut off the extra feather.
9. Pull the feathers in the same direction and wrap a thread as many times as necessary near the hook eye, to get a head.
10. Tie the thread around the head and cut the thread off.
11. Use a drop of head comment to secure the head, be careful not to drop any into the hook eye.

And you are done!

Now you know how to make fly fishing lures! You can check all this in video ...

How to Make Fly Fishing Lures - The Head

What Fish Can You Catch With Homemade Fly Fishing Lures?

While trout is the most popular for fly fishing, it is not the only fish that can be caught with this technique. Check more about Fly Fishing vs Regular Fishing.

Some anglers will fish for bass, crappie, pike, walleye, or even salmon. All of those can be caught with your own lures, if you know how to make fly fishing lures.

When it comes to flies suitable your favorite fish, the same rule applies. Observe the waters, and see what they feed on.

Pike is known for biting on streamers, which can easily be made by anglers. Trout will most frequently bite on insect imitations, or even attractors if the conditions are right.

Walleyes also like streamers, but a bit smaller ones than those for pike. Crappies like wet flies, while salmons react great on attractors.

Of course, this is not the general rule, it is just an observation based on experience. Of course, it can be a bit different in your area.

Conclusion

Fly fishing is the ultimate form of fishing, where you have to be one with the nature, and carefully observe even the tiniest details in your surroundings.

Making your own flies is another way to make this experience even more enjoyable. With some tools, and a lot of patience, you can learn how to make fly fishing lures, and enjoy the end result.

Weather you are making them for fun, or because you are not satisfied with fly selection in local tackle shops, make sure that your DIY flies imitate the real ones, that are present on the local waters!

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