I spent a little time in the garage this week sorting fly tying materials. I periodically receive donations of fly tying materials and tools as well as fly fishing gear to benefit my Central Oregon Flyfishers club, the kids program – Next Cast Flyfishers, and Central Oregon Project Healing Waters.

Donated Fly Tying Materials | www.johnkreft.com

I’m always intrigued when I receive these boxes. You never know what might be inside. 

On more than one occasion, I’ve tossed most of the materials. They were so old and of such poor quality I knew they would never be used.

Sometimes, I find quality materials in the boxes. These might be capes and saddles full of feathers waiting to be used. Or untouched boxes of Superfine dubbing.

Box of Fly Tying Materials | www.johnkreft.com

Many times, the materials are hardly used at all. My wife calls these donations “collections”. She envisions the fly tyer who constantly purchases new materials or another color in hopes of tying some flies…but never does. Therefore, these materials get shoved into boxes and eventually find their way into my garage.

Some people want their donations to go to kids. But trying to transfer the material to the next fly tyer generation is a difficult task because many of the materials used to tie flies today are quite different. I find skins of squirrels, scraps of various fur – mink, otter, muskrat, and beaver, along with pheasant skins, and dyed bucktails to name a few. I think some of them are “road kill”, where the tyer found a dead animal along the side of the road and stopped to pick it up. Have you done that?

Fly Tying Materials | www.johnkreft.com

Synthetic materials are the name of the game today. Walk into any fly shop and you’ll find dubbing in every color under the sun. Sure, rabbit, opossum, and squirrel dubbing are still popular, but mostly I see brands like Superfine, Ice Dub, Antron dubbing, Craft Fur, EP Fibers, Flashabou, and Krystal Flash.

It might be time for me to go through my fly tying supplies and get rid of the materials I don’t use. I’m sure I have some materials that haven’t seen the light of day for quite some time.

But I tie lots of flies, both quantity and variety and you never know when you might need something. I recently surpassed the 2,300 mark for the year.

Yes, I’ve tied over 2,300 flies since the first of the year. They have included dry flies, nymphs, streamers, classic steelhead and spey flies, and classic soft hackle and wet flies. I might be known for the variety of flies I tie, which is why I sell custom flies through my RiverKeeper Flies website.

I recently finished tying several dozen RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple flies, both BWO and PMD mayflies, to fill a few compartments in the “provider” box.

It was timely because I received an order for several RS2 dry flies in sizes 18 and 20. Here are a half-dozen size 20.

RS2 - Size 20 | www.johnkreft.com

They’ll head out the door tomorrow.

I just tripped over my large box of hackle. Perhaps it’s time to tie a few flies using them…I don’t want to leave too many hackles for someone else to use!

I hope when it’s time for me to get rid of my “collection”, someone finds boxes of well-used materials. I want my journey to be one of someone who enjoyed tying flies.

Enjoy…go fish!



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Similar Posts


  1. Hi Mark

    Not CDC – Web of saddle hackle feathers, dark dun. Click on the link and it will take you to the fly pattern sheet with more info.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.