Fly Tying Tips: How to use a Whip Finish Tool – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Fly Tying Tips: How to use a Whip Finish Tool

Learning how to whip finish flies can be one of the most difficult/frustrating techniques to learn in the world of fly tying. However, it is incredibly imortant for finishing flies so they will hold up long enough to catch more than one fish. Using a whip finish tool is a great way to get tight and consistent finishes on any fly. Hopefully this step by step instruction will help those who are still trying to perfect the whip finish.

This instruction will be from the perspective of a right handed tyer. Directionality will be opposite for left handed tyers. A whip finish is usually completed just behind the eye of the hook but the photos below show it closer to the middle of the shank.

Whip Finish step 1

Start by holding the handle of the whip finish between your thumb and middle finger with your pointer finger on the ball or closer to the point of the tool to prevent it from swiveling. The point of the tool should be pointed right as pictured to the left. With your bobbin dangling capture your thread inside the point and with your left hand, coming from the underside of the tool bring the thread into the groove of the tool at the bottom of the picture. now draw your bobbin slightly left and upwards without letting the thread slip from either the groove or the point of the tool.

whip finish step 2

Move your pointer fnger to the handle of the whip finish tool, allowing the tool to swivel to the position pictured to the left. It may take some practice positioning the bobbin and where the pressure of your thread is when getting to this point without the thread slipping form either point of contact on the whip finish tool.

whip finish step 3

Now that you have formed the thread triangle that is in the previous photo you can capture the thread that is coming directly from the bobbin on the near side of the fly as pictured to the left. This will require the left side of the thread triangle to stay nearly perfectly vertical while you rotate the tool and move the thread coming from your bobbin slightly downward.

Now that the thread is captured you can make 3-5 thread wraps by rotating the whip finish tool around the shank of your hook. It is important to allow the tool to rotate by keeping your hand on the shaft of the whip finish tool.

whip finish step 4
whip finish step 5
whip finish step 6
whip finish step 6

After completing these turns, the tool can be removed from the thread. To do this push the tip of the tool down allowing the rounded end to slip out from the thread triangle.

whip finish step 8

After the tip of the whip finish tool is the only part still in contact with the thread, the finish can be tightened by pulling with your left hand and following the pressure of the thread on the whip finish tool. The point of the tool that is still in contact with the thread should end up touching the shank of the hook as pictured below.

whip finsih final step

Completely remove the tool and pull tight with the bobbin in your left hand and your fly is completely finished. Just trim the thread as close as possible to hook shank and your fly is ready to catch fish!

Learn the basics of fly tying in one of our Bozeman fly shop‘s fly tying classes.