THREAD BOBBINS
FLY TYING INSTRUCTION

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reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.

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Parts of a Bobbin

Parts of a Spring Tension Fly Tying Bobbin
COLLAR - Also referred to as the "Thumb Grip"
SPOOL BEARING - Also referred to as "Feet"
TENSION ARMS - Also referred to as "Legs" or "Limbs"
THREAD TUBE - Also referred to as the "Thread Barrel"


FLY TYING BOBBINS
(SPRING WIRE TENSION ARMS)
A bobbin is a "must have" tool. You only need to buy one bobbin when first learning how to tie flies, but most serious fly tiers will have several bobbins, each loaded with different colors and diameters of thread they most often use. This way you don't have to keep threading the bobbin when using different threads, which can be time consuming.

Fly Tying Bobbins
Fly Tying Thread Bobbins

The main purpose of the bobbins is to hold the spool of thread. Fly tying bobbins help control thread tension and direct the flow of thread. Bobbins with spring tension arms are the most common and widely available. They are reasonably priced and simple in design. While all spring arm tension bobbins work on the same principal, there are variations in designs. While you could tie almost any fly using any bobbin, better results will be achieved using the appropriate bobbin for the job.

SIZE OF THE BOBBIN
It is a personal choice of what size of bobbin is preferable, but will also be determined by the style of the fly. Small bobbins are better suited for tying smaller flies and if using a low profile pedestal vise the shorter bobbin can hang freely in the air and keep tension on the thread. A standard size bobbin is around four inches in total length. Some heavy duty bobbins used for tying saltwater flies are over six inches in length.

METAL OR CERAMIC TUBES
Some bobbins have metal tubes and others are made with ceramic. The ceramic tubes are preferred because they are
more abrasion resistant than metal tubes and less likely be scored, thus less likely to cut or fray the thread. Ceramic tubes cost a little extra, but are worth it. Some bobbins like in the top photo have metal tubes with a ceramic insert. The metal helps protect the ceramic from breakage and increases tension strength.


Bobbin Tube Tip with Ceramic Insert

In the above image the tube has a ceramic insert on the tip. Some brands and models of bobbins will have inserts on both ends of the tube.

Ruby Tip
Renzetti Ruby Tipped Bobbin
The bobbin tube has a synthetic ruby insert

Ceramic tubes and inserts are not perfect or the magic solution, but the above ruby tip insert might be close. We have not used bobbins with ruby tip inserts, but it looks good enough for royalty.

PHOTO HERE
Flared Tube Tip
 
Straight Tube / Standard Tub

FLARED TUBES / NON-FLARED TUBES
Flared tubes can help prevent thread damage, but straight tubes offer just a little better thread placement control. Tubes can be flared at either end or both ends.

BOBBIN TUBE DIAMETER:
LARGE
Used for wire, tinsel, kevlar threads, ect...
STANDARD
General purpose
FINE
General purpose and suited for small flies.

BOBBIN TUBE LENGTH
Most common lengths are standard and long.
Standard thread tube length is 1 1/2 Inches
Long thread tube length is 2 1/2 inches
Longer tubes are designed for larger salt water flies. With longer length thread tubes you can apply more pressure and they will maintain better thread control for the conditions. Bobbin tube length might just be a personal preference, but
obviously when tying small dry fly, a smaller bobbin would be more suitable than using a large saltwater bobbin.

TENSION OF THE BOBBIN
Bobbin tension is the amount of drag on the thread. Tension on the thread spool can be increased or decreased by slightly bending the metal arms. When buying a new bobbin, you will usually need to make minor adjustments. When in the process of tying a fly and you need more tension, such as when flaring deer hair, then squeeze the two arms closer together and the extra pressure will provide the tension required.


Bobbin Bearing Beads.
Spheres and cones are the most
common style bearing beads..

SPOOL BEARING BEADS
(The spool bearing beads are also referred to as "feet)" Styles of bobbin bearing beads are spheres and cones, which are made of various materials. Metal, nylon and plastic are commonly used. They need to provide smooth rotation of the thread spool. Any nicks or flat spots can cause uneven rotation and affect thread tension control.

Polished Delrin
Nylon Beads
Stainless Steel
Polished Brass Beads

The heavier metal spool bearing beads can help keep tension on the thread when hanging in the air. Heavier bobbins seem to have better thread control and more tension strength, but that is debatable.

SPHERE BEARING BEADS
Sphere bearing beads offer smooth rotation of the thread spool. One drawback is that the thread spool can be easier to slip off a sphere shape bearing when applying tension on the thread. In some cases the thread spool might have a smaller diameter center hole than can be securely accommodated with larger bearing beads. Sphere bearing beads tend to be brass or stainless steel and found most often on larger size fly tying bobbins.

CONE BEARING BEADS
The shape of a cone bearing bead will allow for a secure hold with most thread spool hole diameters.


Bobbin Collars

BOBBIN COLLARS
Collars hold the thread tube and tension arms together and provide a gripping surface when holding the bobbin in your hand. Bobbin collars can have different shapes and styles, but should feel comfortable when gripped between the fingers. Collars are made with metal, wood trims, rubber boots, ect... Most bobbin collars, including cheap versions haven't really been much of an issue, but if you take time to stop and think about what style is best, then you would notice the difference.

SPRING TENSION ARM LENGTH
Fly tying bobbins will have spring tension arms that are varying lengths. With saltwater bobbins the longer tension arms allow greater drag to be applied with less effort.

Rite Bobbin
RITE™ STANDARD BOBBIN
Single arm drag tension bobbin
Thread tension is adjustable and
maintains a constant drag.

PHOTO HERE
Nor-Vise Automatic Bobbin
Another innovated bobbin design...

CUSTOM BOBBINS
There are several custom designed fly tying bobbins available on the market that have gained popularity in the fly tying world. While the old school tension arm bobbins are still the most widely used, the single arm drag tension bobbins are impressive. There are several variations of this design and which brand or model is best would be up for debate.

After using different size and styles of fly tying bobbins, you will develop personal favorites that fit your hand best or any number of other factors.

Bobbin Threader
Wire Loop Bobbin Threader
These are the most common available Bobbin Threaders.

FLY TYING BOBBIN THREADER
A bobbin threader will make threading the bobbin easy. Made with metal wire loop you can easily push through the bobbin tube and capture the thread.

CUSTOM BOBBIN THREADERS
Photos of Custom Designed Bobbin Threaders

HOW TO THREAD A BOBBIN
Basic instructions to thread a bobbin


Ram Rods used to clean Bobbin Tubes
(Standard and fine tube sizes)

BOBBIN TUBE CLEANER
When using waxed thread, the wax could build up inside the bobbin thread tube and should be cleaned if needed. Generally the worst problem caused by wax build up is it makes threading a new spool of thread is more difficult. You can buy a ram rod designed for this purpose or use a length of mono to push through the tube. Don't use a stiff wire that could damage or score the inside of the tube, which then would cause the thread to break or fray.

THREAD BREAKAGE
If your thread keeps breaking or getting frayed, check the bobbin tube for any nicks or score marks that might be causing the problem. Check both ends of the tube!!!

Beginner fly tiers will apply to much tension on the thread which can cause it to break. (It could even happen to a professional fly tier, but much less often.) The thinner the thread the easier it will break. For beginners a 6/0 size thread would be recommended. When flaring deer hair or when extra strength and tension is required then size 3/0 or materials such as kevlar can be used. The larger thread sizes will add more bulk to the fly, which might not be desirable, especially on smaller flies.

Once in a while you might get a spool of thread that won't sit properly in the bobbin bearing beads. In these rare cases you can try sanding the thread spool and slightly enlarge the center hole for a better fit on the bobbin bearing beads.

BOBBIN THREADER
FLY TYING THREAD

FLY TYING TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
FLY TYING THREAD BOBBIN
FLY TYING SCISSORS
FLY TYING HAIR STACKER
FLY TYING BODKIN
FLY TYING HACKLE PLIERS
DUBBING TWISTER / SHEPHERD'S HOOK
FLY TYING DUBBING COMB, RAKE, ECT...
WHIP FINISH TOOL
FLY TYING TWEEZERS
FLY TYING FORCEPS
FLY TYING BURNISHING TOOL
MISC. FLY TYING TOOLS
FLY TYING VISES
LIGHTING AND VISUAL AIDS
BASIC FLY TYING TOOL KIT

DISCLAIMER:
flytyinginstruction.com does not sell
or endorse specific brands of products.
Descriptions and information contained
within this page is intended for instructional
purposes.

FLY TYING INSTRUCTION
http://www.flytyinginstruction.com
Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.

SPRING TENSION FLY TYING BOBBIN