The Beginning Fly Tier
flytiers prefer expensive hackle feathers and other materials for their flies, but the end quality of the fly depends more on technique than the price of materials used.
If you don't have a fly-tying friend or fly shop nearby, consult some of the many catalogs available. They are a good source of ideas and materials for various flies. Many companies have an advisory staff to help you get what you need.
If want to improve your fly tying skills, I suggest getting lessons from a local fly fishing club or fly shop. If these are not available to you, the many videos on fly tying are also very good. Some clubs make videos available to members free. An excellent book is Beginning Fly Tying by Eric Leiser, from Lyons Press.
A Pair of Aces
Two patterns will catch all kinds of freshwater game fish just about anywhere in the world, and they are easy to tie.
Marabou streamer: Place a hook in the vise at the bend and make five thread wraps forward just behind the eye of the hook, then five turns back over the forward wraps. Grasp a bunch of short, black marabou feathers and secure them to the top of the hook with five wraps. Don't let the feather tips extend more than one-third of the length of the hook shank beyond the hook bend. Cut off excess feathers just behind the eye of the hook. Form a head, whip finish and then cement the fly head. This pattern is also effective in white and in white/black, using the white for the bottom layer of feathers.
Le Tort Hopper and Le Tort Cricket variations: These are topwater flies used to catch surface feeders. The two flies are similar, but use black polypropylene body and black deer hair for the cricket.
Apply thread, usually black or yellow, just beyond bend of the hook and tie in a piece of yellow polypropylene yarn. Wrap thread forward just behind the hook eye, leaving space for a small hair head. Wrap forward to the same place and secure with five thread wraps. Apply a small amount of natural white-tailed deer body hair just behind the hook eye and secure with five wraps just behind, and then in front of, the head. Make sure hair does not extend over one-third the length of the hook shank beyond the hook bend. Whip finish and cement. Clip off excess hair at the eye, leaving a small clump for a head. This is the hopper. In a pinch, clamp a split-shot at the hook eye on the leader and fish these flies wet. They work!