Fly Tying Instruction

Fleeing Crab

Catching a fish on a fly is fun. Catching fish on a fly you tied is even better. Tying your own flies adds a whole new dimension to the sport. Aside from being fun and relaxing, tying your own flies gives you a never-ending supply of the flies you like to fish with and allows you to design a specific fly for a specific application.

Fly tying is a skill that can be learned by almost anyone. All it takes is the right equipment and materials, a moderate level of dexterity and some proper instruction. We offer beginner through advanced fly tying focusing on saltwater and warmwater flies. Our tying instruction is intended to teach the correct use of fly tying tools, material behavior, and tying techniques required to produce effective, durable flies. You'll develop the skills, techniques and knowledge that will enable you to tie countless patterns, and you'll have a lot of fun doing it!

We offer a number of options for getting started tying flies and improving your skills.

Our Next Tying Event: Shad Fishing Q and A and Intermediate/Advanced Tying Class

This event will be different from our usual tying events. We'll start by providing some information on the St. Johns River shad run. We'll talk about the areas we fish, gear we like to use, and favorite tactics. Then we'll answer questions on shad and catching them with a fly rod. If you are unfamiliar with shad fishing on the St. Johns please read our blog post or watch our YouTube video on the topic.  

Next we'll move on to the fly tying portion of the evening. Chad Helenthal will be teaching us how to tie his Hairwing Gambusia shad fly. 

No reservations are required to attend this event and anyone is welcome to stick around and watch the fly tying portion. If you plan to actually tie, however, you will need to reserve a spot. We ask that if you are not tying flies you leave seats at the tying table open for those who are. 

Guest Tyer: Chad Helenthal
Date/Time: January 25, 2023. Arrive by 5:45 pm. The event starts at 6:00 pm.
Cost: No charge
Reserving a spot: You'll need a reservation to tie flies but reservations are not required to attend the event. The tying class is limited to 10 tyers, first come, first served. Please reserve your spot by the Friday before the class. You can reserve a spot in person, with a phone call, with an email, through our contact form, or via Facebook or Instagram.
What to bring: We provide the space and instruction. If you have reserved a spot at the tying table you will need to bring a vise and tools and supply your own materials.

Shad Fly - Chad Helenthal


Every winter we spend as much time as possible fishing for American and hickory shad on the St. Johns River. Chad Helenthal is one of the regulars who we sometimes find ourselves fishing next to and with whom we often trade information. Chad takes a special interest in shad, hosting a Shad on the Fly Facebook group, maintaining the website, creating content and designing flies to catch these fish.

Finding commercially tied flies to imitate Gambusia (mosquitofish), which we believe is one of the most important forage items for shad in the St. Johns, is difficult. Chad has developed a number of excellent Gambusia patterns, one of which he will be sharing with us in a couple variations. 

Shad aren't the only fish that eat mosquitofish. Gambusia flies also catch largemouth bass, a variety of panfish including bluegill, redbreasted sunfish, and crappie, and the occasional hybrid striped bass. 

Tyers should be proficient with basic techniques and comfortable using a variety of tying materials. You're welcome to come watch but if you plan to tie make sure you bring your vise and tools. You can bring the required materials or come a little early and buy them before we start tying. Please let us know if you will be coming so we can plan accordingly.

Materials List for the Gambusia Hairwing:

We will have these materials available for purchase but bring your own materials if you have them. One of the advantages of tying your own flies is that you can change colors and substitute materials as you wish. Please feel free to use different colors or substitute a material that is functionally equivalent.

Orlando Outfitters Fly Tying Sessions

We offer beginning tying classes as well as more advanced instruction and tying demos throughout the year. Beginning classes are taught by Orlando Outfitters staff. They cover relatively simple patterns and techniques and move slowly, with step-by-step instruction and lots of explanation. Intermediate/advanced classes are taught by guest tyers as well as Orlando Outfitters staff. They often move along much more quickly, with the expectation that tyers already understand the basics. Details for upcoming classes will be posted on this page.

Orlando Outfitters Beginning Fly Tying Class

This half day class is intended for new fly tyers and will give you the knowledge and skills you need to get started right. We will be tying the Crystal Schminnow, the Fleeing Crab and the Clouser Minnow. More importantly you will be learning the various techniques needed to tie these patterns.

Date/Time: We will be offering another class early in 2023.
Cost: $50
Reserving a spot: Class size is limited to 6 tyers. The tuition fee must be paid in full to reserve a spot. You can pay either in our shop or online. The tuition fee is fully refundable up to 24 hours prior to the start of the class. If you aren’t able to attend, we ask that you let us know as soon as you are able so we can offer your spot to others.
What is Included? The tuition fee covers materials used during the class as well as the use of a fly tying vise and other tools you will need. You will leave the class with any flies you tie as well as a materials kit with all the materials needed to tie one of the patterns tied during the class.

Next Steps: A beginning fly tying class is the start of the process of becoming a proficient fly tyer. Learning to tie flies involves practice. For that you’ll need to have your own tools and materials at home and use them regularly. We offer kits for both tying tools and materials These kits will both simplify the process and save you some money. Many of our intermediate/advanced tying sessions are suitable for newer tyers and are a great way to expand your skills.

We also offer fly tying instruction videos on YouTube including a series of videos that teach the same skills and patterns we teach in our in-person introductory class. This page will guide you through the video class. Here is our full offering on YouTube.

Intermediate/Advanced Tying

Date/Time: Usually on weekday evenings from 5:45 pm to 8:00 pm. Details for upcoming classes will be posted on this page.
Cost: No charge
Reserving a spot: We limit intermediate/advanced classes to 10 tyers. Please reserve your spot by the Friday before a class. You can reserve a spot in person, with a phone call, with an email, through our contact form, or via Facebook or Instagram.
What is Included? We provide the space and instruction. You will need to bring a vise and tools and supply your materials. A materials list will be available two weeks before the class and materials will be available the evening of the class. We do sometimes run out of preferred colors and sizes so you might want to buy early.

Individual Fly Tying Instruction

Private one-on-one instruction is available as well.

Date/Time: Set up individually with the instructor typically during store hours.
Cost: $60 per hour.
Materials and tools are provided for introductory classes. For intermediate/advanced instruction, what is provided will depend on the techniques and materials being used.

Help with Patterns and Techniques

We're always happy to answer your fly tying questions and help you work through techniques and patterns you are having trouble with. Stop by whenever the shop is open and we will do our best to help. There’s no charge but if the day is busy or we are short on staff we may have to take a break to help other customers or ask you to come back when we are less busy. It works best if you get in touch with us before coming in.

More Information and Sign-Up

If you'd like to sign-up for the beginning fly thing class you can pay the class fee and reserve your spot by stopping by the shop or do it online right here.

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