My first fly tying kit came with a set of tools and among them was a Bodkin Needle. I instantly picked it up and thought to myself “Now why on earth would I ever need this? It’s just a stiff piece of metal.”. It soon found itself at the bottom of my drawer and only came to see the light when I used it to manage UV cure on a midge or a wing casing. Years later, this silly little tool has changed my life.
You can say that a large part to my lack of knowledge for this tool was due to my early stages of learning how to tie flies. I was so eager to learn these big, gorgeous and completely out of my level patterns that, naturally, lead me to bypass so many essential tips and techniques.
Ever looked at a fly you tied and thought to yourself “There is something wrong about this guy.. oh well, maybe the next one will look better!” without truly analyzing the steps you took to create your now deformed pattern? Well, Id be guilty if I didn’t raise my hand to this question. They just didn’t look right and my solution was that if I tied 25-50 of these they are bound to naturally get better and better.. because practice makes perfect, right? Not in my case.
When tying a pattern in the shop and evaluating my finished fly, I was asked “Did you use your bodkin needle to ensure your proportions to the size of the hook?”. I said “Well no, I didn’t know that was something I could be doing with the bodkin needle”. So we tied a new fly, but this time we utilized the bodkin needle. We placed the bodkin needle behind the eye of the hook to determine the distance we would need to avid crowding the eye, we used it to align where the back of the fly would end on a curved shank hook, we then also used it to determine where the thorax would start in correlation with the rest of the body. The results left me speechless.
In just a few flies, my patterns looked natural and better than I had ever seen before. I was proud. And it was all thanks to that stiff piece of metal that I took for granted so long ago. Now my bodkin needle sits on my tying bench next to the tools I use most often, where it should have been from the very beginning.