Suggested Tools for Fly Tying Beginners
You can get started in fly tying for around $30 in tools plus a vise. Here are the tools I recommend as well as where to buy them and how much they cost.
Ceramic bobbin holder ($15–30)
Technically called bobbin holders, most of us just refer to these as bobbins. They hold bobbins (plastic cylinders) of the thread used to bind flies together. Don't bother with the super cheap ones and even most of the super cheap ceramic ones. At best, they'll fray your thread. At worst, they'll cause it to break, making fly tying extremely frustrating. Spend just a bit more and get a good one the first time around.
Bobbin threader ($2–6)
One of these makes it much easier to put the end of the thread through the bobbin holder's tube. Even the cheapest ones you can find get the job done. This is only for the Dr. Slick bobbin (or a similar bobbin); the Rite Ceramic Bobbin doesn't need one.
These are what you use to cut thread, yarn, hackle feathers, and more. We sell Yarn/Thread Snips if you're in the market.
Whip finish tool (Sub-$10)
When you're done tying your fly, you use whip finish to tie the final knot that holds the thread and everything else in place. Once you complete the whip finish, you cut off the thread and your fly is done. Whip finishes can be done by hand (here's a video about it), but I find that a dedicated whip finish tool (aka whip finisher) makes the job a lot easier.
Hackle pliers ($3–$15)
These are little pliers that grip onto the end of a feather to make it easier to wrap it around a hook shank to create the hackle of a fly.
A lot of fly tying educational sources say that bodkins are basically needles with handles, but the vast majority of fly tying bodkins are much thicker than a sewing needle. I use bodkins mostly for freeing hackle fibers that I've trapped under wraps of thread, but they can also be used for applying little dollops of glue or head cement. See our article on making a simple bodkin for free. A bodkin isn't 100% necessary to get started with fly tying, but I don't think you'll regret having one.