Trim the End of Your Tippet Correctly
I teach fly fishing to a lot of diverse people from all over America who are really interested in becoming successful at fly fishing. Trust me I’m a happy guy to be the one to help them in this goal. For anglers who struggle with poor eye sight, their biggest complaint to me is when they’re fly fishing a river their poor eye sight limits their ability to thread on a fly. Let’s face it, if you can’t tie on a fly you are not going to be able to fly fish. Your struggles to tie on a fly will also discourage you from changing flies when the need arises. This is the most common “Help” question I get year in year out.
The commercial end of fly fishing has come up with a mirid of contraptions designed to help you thread that fly onto the end of your leader. You can buy flip it magnifiers that attach to the visor of your cap fly threaders and a wide range of products that supposedly will thread your tippet end of the leader through the eye of the fly. Do all of these things work? Well, yes they do to some degree of success. You will even find some anglers who swear by them. I even use them from time to time. I don’t want to dissuade you from purchasing some of these gadgets in fact I would to some point say, “Try it”.
The real problem is the fly itself is not letting you thread the end of the leader through it. Most if not all commercial flies are finished with a type of cement called head cement. In theory, this is done to prevent the thread that binds the fly tying material from coming untied. Also there is a lot of fur and feathers that are sometimes bent over the eye of the hook. No type of threader will ever be able to work as long as there is a fly with the eye cemented over with some material glued to it. So for any angler to tie on a fly the eye of the fly first must be open of any obstructions.
Most if not all fly fishing nippers we use to cut tippet have a needle built into it to do just what it is designed to do, unclog clogged hook eye. Your first step is to make sure before tying on any new fly that you first unclog the eye of the fly you wish to tie on. The second and final step is to take your nippers and cut the very end of your leader at an angle. Do not just cut the leader like you would a toe nail. By cutting the end of the leader at an angle you have just created a point on the end of your leader making it easy to thread your leader through the eye of the fly you wish to tie on. This simple trick will allow you to simply aim the end of your leader at the eye of the fly and push it through the eye. I have been able to thread flies as small as size 26 doing this small two step process for years. If that doesn’t work then I go to some of the commercial products that will also help.