Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons on Old and New Scissors

Assorted Scissors 


The scissors at your fly tying desk are a really critical part of your tying arsenal. Admittedly, it has taken me a while to get a good grip of what scissors I like and how to make use of different types of scissors. I give full credit to my various local mentors, online videos, and some good old trial and error. I hope this article will pass my lessons on to others.


All Purpose Scissor
Terra Fly Tying Kit
Like most folks, I started with the basic scissors that came with my fly tying started kit. At this point I would never buy scissors like that again. That has little to do with any fault of the scissors themselves, but there are scissors I find more apt for tying.

Obviously, scissors are all about the blade shape and size.

The basic fly tying scissor is an all purpose shaped blade of medium length. These are solid scissors, but they are almost always bound together by a non-removable screw/rivet and can't be easily sharpened. They should fit easily in most hands, but big thick fingers will always have challenges with tying scissors, sorry maybe open loop scissors can help.

4" Razor Scissors
My favorite all purpose scissors are Dr. Slick Razor Scissors 4". These are super sharp and taper to a near micro tip size. They fit really well in my hand. I tie with my scissors in my hand at all times and the size in hand is important to my comfort at the vise.  The adjustable tension is also very nice to make for comfortable and delicate control. I also just recently purchased the Allen Fly Fishing equivalent of this scissor but, I haven't had it long enough appropriately to comment on its use. However, the scissors have a remarkably similar feel.

Razor tip
In the line of tension scissors I also have the 5" Razor scissors made by Green Caddis Outfitters. This size is a little big for my hand held approach and the tip doesn't taper as small as the Dr. Slick's, but they are great for cutting things like foam or dear hair when I need a long straight cut.

From Left to Right: Allen 4" Razor, Green Caddis 5" Razor, 4" Dr. Slick
My final point about the wonders of razor scissors is that they can be sharpened. Since a removable tension screw is what holds the blades together they can be removed and sharpened like a knife.  They should only be sharpened on a very fine flat ceramic (I will follow up on sharpening in another blog). If you have immediate questions shoot me a message on Facebook.

I also keep a pair of curved tip scissors at my desk which are great for setting the curve of deer hair flies or cutting the mouth out of Morrish hopper bodies.

Allen Micro tip
Micro tip scissors are in my "not used to often drawer" at the tying bench, but they are there for a reason. I don't tie for freshwater trout often, but when I am working on small nymphs they can be a real asset to deal with the small hook size. (the current pair is also from Allen Fly Fishing)






Finally I use a set of craft scissors to deal with anything
that will heavily wear on scissors like cutting dear hair off the hide. A trick I picked up from Pat Cohen's DVD. Don't get me wrong these should be high quality craft scissors. As with all scissors its about a sharp edge.

As I mentioned before, when you get into fly tying for the first time you usually end up with basic scissors. However unless you started out well mentored (unlike me), you will dull these scissors very fast because you didn't realize you should really have at least two pairs of scissors each for dealing with different materials.

Fear not......Those dull scissors can have lots of uses.


The foremost use I have for just about any dull scissors is cutting wires. Admittedly, I don't use them for heavy wires like bite tippets, but for most ribbing and lead wires they work well. Once you have dull pair that means you don't have worry about using your sharp scissors.  An additional advantage once you have your wire tied on a fly is that dull scissors fit into tight spaces a lot more easily the standard wire cutters.

If you happen to have dull pair of arrow scissors I substitute the notch below the blades on mine for wire cutters to separate bead chain eyes. I have used it for up to large size eyes without any problem, but I tie with medium eyes for most flies. The notch is more then enough to deal with medium bead chain.




I hope these tips help you take make full used of scissors. If you have any further questioins message me on the Siren Flies Facebook Page

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