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May 27, 2021

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What is the Difference Between a Basic and Complete Fly Tying Kit? What is Inside Them?

What is the Difference Between a Basic and Complete Fly Tying Kit? What is Inside Them?

A fly-tying kit is a quick and easy way to get yourself set up and on the way to tying your flies. If you’re a beginner, it helps you save on hours of research on the best tools or materials - it gives you the essentials on what you’ll need to get started.

Kits come in all forms and sizes, and some are more “complete” than others. Let’s look at some of the popular fly-tying kits and determine what makes a kit basic and what makes it complete.


Difference Between Basic and Complete Fly Tying Kit

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “basic” as “constituting or serving as the basis or starting point”. With that working definition, a basic fly-tying kit will help you get started. It will provide the rudimentary tools but may lack some essential components such as a whip finish or vise. These kits may also lack materials, and if they do provide any, only limited options will be available, such as a single thread color or one type of feather.

Tools-Only Kits

One example of a basic fly-tying kit would be a tools-only kit, such as the Colorado Anglers Z797 Standard Tool Kit. It’s a fantastic 8-tool kit that includes a vise with base, whip finisher, scissors, hackle pliers, bodkin, dubbin twister, threader, and bobbin. However, you’ll need to purchase materials such as feathers, dubbin, beads, etc., to begin tying your flies. 

Other examples of these basic tools-only kits would be the Dr. Slick Fly Tying Tools Gift Set and the Zephyr Travel Fly Tying Kit. These kits contain high-quality tools but lack an essential component, which is the vise. It has no materials included to create your flies, so these need to be purchased independently. Therefore, they do not qualify as a complete solution to get you tying right out of the box. 

These basic tools-only kits are best suited for intermediate or expert fly-tiers looking for a set to complement what they already have. It may also replace some of the tools in their existing kit or want a portable set for traveling. These kits make a wonderful gift for the more experienced fly-tier and are suitable for those who want to choose their vise and materials for tying.

Materials Only

These types of kits often do not include any tools or vise. Instead, these are focused on the materials you will attach to the hooks to create patterns. The Hareline Fly Tying Materials Kit is a classic example with 48 different materials: beads, chenille, feathers, wire, and threads. 

Purchasing a materials-only kit will be advantageous for those who already have a set of tools and don’t know where to begin choosing amongst the overwhelming number of materials. Deciding on the thread size, wire strength, dubbin, and hackles can be daunting and may be too much detail for some people. Alternatively, using a basic materials-only kit with a tools-only kit can provide a fantastic starting point for novices or those with intermediate skill levels.

Adhesive Only

Lastly, another type of basic kit is an adhesive-only kit. Adhesives are essentially used to secure the final touches on the fly so that the final knot does not break apart. Popular adhesives to use are head cement, super glue, and UV resin. The Loon Outdoors UV Fly Tying Kit presents the fly tier with a high-quality UV resin kit with various viscosities and needle tips for applying the adhesive. 


Complete Kits

Complete means having all necessary parts, elements, or steps. A kit that contains everything you need to tie flies without purchasing anything extra is considered complete.

A complete kit will include all the tools, some materials, a vise, an instructional manual, and even a case or organizer for your kit. These are the best solutions for beginners who are just entering the fly-tying world and have limited knowledge of the tools and materials necessary. These complete kits allow the beginner to tie flies right out of the box.

One popular fly-tying kit is the WETFLY Deluxe Fly Tying Kit, which has a great balance between the tools provided and its price. It includes hooks, scissors, hackle pliers, a vice, and even materials for tying. While some people might classify this as complete, it doesn’t have a whip-finish tool and a bodkin, which some people can consider essential tools. Although beginners will still be able to tie basic flies with it and is a great starting point to discover fly-tying, it still falls short of being utterly complete. 

The Orvis Premium Fly Tying Kit is a great example of a complete kit. It contains essential tools such as a vise, ceramic lined bobbin, scissors, bodkin, half-hitch tool, hackle plier, hair stacker, and whip finish tool. It has a protective and sturdy carrying case and a DVD instruction manual. It provides materials for 16 different fly patterns, which allows you to target several different fish species. It includes what you need to tie the Wooly Bugger, a popularly effective fly to catch trout, salmon, pike, and smallmouth bass.

A Final Word: Basic or Complete?

Purchasing a complete kit has the benefit of users beginning right away with no additional purchases necessary. Some people want to buy a product that will allow them to learn or get started in a fuss-free, all-in-one package. Complete kits are the best solutions for beginners of any age.

However, basic kits have their advantages. Purchasing a basic tools-only kit allows users to select their materials for fly tying and purchase their vise separately. Combining several basic kits has the benefit of providing a whole collection of tools and materials quickly and easily. Basic kits are a great base point and add the flexibility of early customization for users who are certain they want fly-tying to be a long-time activity.