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Tying thread breakdown

April 11, 2017


Today I am going to talk to you about the different types of tying threads out there for fly tying.  The first thing we should go over is the sizes as they can be quite confusing to anyone starting out.  There is two common size types of thread, a “zero” measurement system and the more standard sizing denier.  The “zero” measurement system was originally used to measure silk thread a long time ago.  Unfortunately it is a more archaic system and not as reliable as the denier system.  Some companies larger zero measurement might actually be smaller than another companies smaller zero measurement.  The denier system has a more accurate measurement of size and breaking strength and is also a textile industry standard today.  For the zero system, the more zeros, the thinner the thread.  So three zeroes would be 3/0 thread.  With that being said, it makes it easier to determine the thread size needed for size of the fly you will be tying.  The company that uses the older system is Danville, and in reference to thread size and strengths, they are the standard.  You also have the Flymaster threads from them which is a flat, fine thread is considered 6/0.  It is a very good thread to use when you don’t want a thread build up on the fly, i.e. dry flies.  This thread comes in both waxed and unwaxed.  They also have Flat waxed nylon for tying saltwater flies.  Monocord which is a heavy version of 3/0 which is used for hair work.  Flymaster plus is similar to the flat waxed nylon but has more twist to it.  One of the other more popular thread companies out there is Uni-products.  They also use the zero measurement.  Their smallest size is a 17/0 trico thread which is an unwaxed very fine thread used for tying micro flies.  After that you have 8/0 which is used to tie small flies and comes in both waxed and unwaxed; 6/0 is more abrasion-resistant thread and is good for big dries, bead-heads and streamers that require tying in multiple materials and also comes in waxed and unwaxed; 3/0 is a flat polyester multifilament thread that is normally used on flies larger than size 12 and also comes in waxed and unwaxed.  Wapsi is another popular brand out there and comes in denier size.  The three denier sizes they are carry are 70, 140 and 280.  With these sizes, it is the exact opposite of the zero system.  So the larger the number in denier is used for larger flies and the smaller the number the smaller the fly.  Now the difference between waxed and unwaxed.  Waxed thread gets a better hold on material, doesn’t slip as much, prevents fraying and holds dubbing better.  Now the main problem is that wax can come off the thread and build up inside your bobbin and add bulk to the fly.  Granted you can use unwaxed thread just as well and use a paraffin wax whenever you need to dub on to the thread or when you need extra grip with the thread.  I hope this info helped clear up any confusion on tying thread and when it comes down to it, it is just up to personal preference on the thread you use. 


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