Super Simple (and Free!) DIY Bodkin for Fly Tying

A bodkin is a long, pointy piece of metal with a handle. It's often called a needle with a handle, but most of the fly tying-specific bodkins are actually much fatter than a sewing needle. Bodkins have a few uses:

  • Freeing hackle fibers that you've trapped under yarn wraps (This is what I use bodkins for the most.)
  • Applying small amounts of head cement to a fly, especially smaller flies. You put it on the tip of the bodkin and then apply it to the head of the fly.
  • Teasing out/separating yarn or synthetic fiber materials in flies, especially streamers.

I have a couple of commercially bought fly tying bodkins, and they work, but I wanted a really small one to make it easier to free those trapped hackle fibers. I ended up just taking a sewing needle and hot gluing the eye end in between a folded-over layer of thin cardboard, like so: 

DIY fly tying bodkin

(Click here to see the larger version.)

Other options are to stick the needle through an eraser or piece of cork. I eventually stumbled across this video showing how you stick a needle into a chopstick to make bodkin. I did that and it looks and works great:

DIY fly tying bodkin 2


Another budget option? Simply use a safety pin. Bend the needle part out away from the rest of the safety pin, and use the rest of the safety pin as a handle.