How Do You Use A Bodkin Fly Tying?

Bodkins are used to free-up tied downbound or hackle fibers. They are best described as a needle with a handle. They are a common choice of tools when you want to place cement in a precise location on a finished fly. These are some of the uses on how to use a Bodkin or Dubbing Pick.

The Bodkin 

There are a variety of uses for the fly tying bodkin. You can use this handy tool to apply or remove varnish from your flies, or you can use it to maneuver fibers. The bodkin generally measures about six inches in length, but you can find them shorter or longer. The six-inch length is the most common one used.

Handles on the bodkin will also vary. Some handles are constructed of plastic, but you can find them in metal or wood as well. Another variety in these tools is the flexibility of the needle.

Some bodkin will have a non-flexible needle, while others have some give to them, or flexibility. The needle can also be a fine point or a narrow point, but all of them are rounded and not sharp like a sewing needle.

Separate Fibers with a Bodkin

One use of the bodkin is to separate fibers. After you have tied on some dubbing, you can use the bodkin to pick at it and unlock any trapped fibers. This picking will give your fly a more extensive profile and a more natural appearance. The bodkin can also help separate any clumpy hackle barbs.

Bodkins are Great Varnish Tools

Excellent use of the bodkin is to apply varnish on the head of a fly. You will dip the head of the bodkin into the varnish and apply it to fly by touching just the tip of the head.

Any excess drops of varnish on the bodkin will drip onto the fly head. Using the bodkin is an excellent way to apply the varnish as it allows you a lot of control. It works great for varnishing small areas and heads of your flies.

If you have a larger area to varnish, it is suggested you use a brush to get a more uniform coat, and it will work more quickly. One benefit of using the bodkin is it will be much easier to clean the varnish off, and it is never going to wear out like a brush will.

If you have accidentally dropped any varnish onto the hook eye, the bodkin is a great tool to clean that and any other excess varnish spots.

Bodkins Can Split Threads

Bodkins come with either a fine point or a narrow point on the tip of the needle. These points help to split threads when dubbing.

Bodkins Can Be Used As Burnishing Tool

The shaft of the needle on a bodkin can be used as a burnishing tool as it can help to smooth out minor bumps and lumps. You would not want to use the bodkin needle on delicate material such as floss or silk as this damage too easily and fray.

If you use your bodkin as a burnishing tool, you don’t want to use too much pressure, or the needle will bend. Use the needle shank near the handle of your bodkin as this area is stiffer and less likely to be damaged.

What Other Tools Are Needed Besides the Bodkin?

If you are keeping your passion alive to be out in the waters fishing during the cold winter months, you may have turned to the art of fly tying to keep you busy till the weather warms.

These are some of the tools and tips you’ll need to keep you filling up your crates with homespun creative flies:

  • A vise is essential for fly tying. You will have no problem securing one of these as the market is flooded with choices. If you are just starting out, buy one on the cheaper end of the options until you work up your craft.
  • Tying tools are essential if you’re making your own ties and bypassing the expensive ones in the fly shop. You will need a bobbin to hold your fly-tying thread in place, and a pair of sharp scissors to cut off excess ends.
  • Whip finish is a tool that allows you to put finishing touches on your flies. You will be able to tie a strong knot with this tool that is capable of holding your finished product in place.
  • Bodkin, of course, is on the list of essential tools in the fly making. This tool, as described above, is basically a handle with a needle attached to it. It will, however, become one of your most and handiest tools in your equipment. Because this tool is used so often, you may also want to include a bodkin cleaner as part of your tool kit. This cleaner can be made at home by using an old film canister packed with steel wool. By stabbing your bodkin through the steel wool at a few times, you will have cleaned it and have it ready for its next use. 
  • Hackle pliers are an excellent tool to have when you need to grasp the material that is too small to grab with your fingers. You will be surprised at the number of times you reach for the hackle pliers while making your flies. 
  • Tweezers are a pretty self-explanatory tool and one that will come in handy for a lot of the tiny parts used in the fly making. The tweezers help with those parts that require extreme precision for placement, so you will want to ensure a good pair of tweezers is part of your tool kit. 
  • Head cement will be used throughout your fly tying process and secures your material to your hook. You will want this on hand before you start your fly tying process.

The art of fly tying is an excellent craft to learn as it will pass the time until you get back out on the waters and can save you a lot of money by not having to purchase your own flies.

The bodkin is going to be a helpful tool in this craft and will help you maneuver materials and well as secure some. You will find this is one of your favorite tools to use in fly tying.