Fishing Fly tying

Fly tying: Whip finishing by hand

About a decade ago, while sitting at a table in the dining room at what is now Calder Mountain Lodge on the northern, roadless tip of Prince of Wales Island, I busied myself tying up a few bright orange streamers for the next day’s fishing for Dolly Varden in the island’s tannin-stained salmon streams.

An angler from the Seattle area watched closely and wandered over to chat about the pattern I was tying—nothing fancy, really. Just an orange bead, orange thread and then some maribou with some purple and pink tinsel. When it came time to finish my fly, I pulled out my whip-finisher and was about to tie it off when he said, “Want me to show you how to do that by hand?

Of course I did. I despised the whip-finishing tool—it always seemed so bulky and, often, the line would slip, and I’d have to start over. The guy nudged me aside and showed me the technique that Tim Flagler describes in the video above. It was painfully simple, and I haven’t picked up a whip-finishing tool since. It’s also much easier to tie smaller patterns, like the Dead Pool Midge.

To that angler in Seattle—I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name—thanks for making things a bunch easier at the vise. The video above will shave some time off your patterns, and, of course, you’ll look cool in front of your friends, which is half the battle, right?


— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.