Get Acquainted with Fly Tying Scissors
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
Household scissors usually come in pretty standard form, which is to say they are typically on the larger side and relatively inexpensive. I know that about three or four pairs are sitting around in various drawers in my house, but they are all the same familiar style. Having more than one pair of these is more about convenience than utility. After all, cutting things like paper doesn't require much precision.
On the other hand, we fly tyers have different needs. We require smaller, sharp scissors that work effectively in tight places and make exacting cuts. For this reason, it's common to find several types of scissors on many fly-tying desks, each with its unique niche. Now, that's not to say that some fly tyers can't get by with a single pair, but even someone like me who only sits at the vise occasionally can still find value in getting more specialized with tying shears.
Popular brands, like Loon Outdoors and Dr. Slick, each offer a healthy selection of scissors for every aspect of the tying process. One thing you'll immediately notice is the price of these little scissors can be on the higher side. Cheaper varieties of scissors are available, but the old saying "you get what you pay for" definitely applies here. These pricier versions are crafted with extra precision from hard materials such as steel or tungsten carbide (which Dr. Slick says is seven times harder than stainless steel). They can even feature bonus additions like adjustable tension or built-in wire cutters. As a result, good tying scissors will typically feel better, cut easier, and last longer.
If just getting started in fly tying, one suggestion would be to start with a quality all-purpose tying scissor. This style will accomplish most tasks very well, and you may even discover they are the only pair of scissors you need. In fact, up until a few years ago, I mainly used this one scissor type and did just fine. My pair features micro-serrated edges to help cut slippery chunks of hair (like synthetics) easier but still snips natural hair and thread with ease.
Besides the versatile all-purpose style scissors, another style that many tyers find extremely useful is a scissor with fine tips. Typically a bit smaller overall, these scissors have thinner blades and excel at getting into tight spots and making precise, minor cuts. If you tie a lot of tiny trout flies (which I don't), these should be pretty useful. But, even a streamer junkie like me finds these very helpful sometimes.
In my opinion, the last of what I call the "core" scissors to own are hair scissors or a noticeably beefier scissor, like the Loon Prime. Whether these scissors are made with stout blades, serrated edges, or a combination of both, they are good to have when cutting larger chunks of material repeatedly.
Besides these standard styles of tying scissors, many other examples are available, with some being pretty specialized and innovative. Just a couple of other examples to note include:
Thinning or tapering scissors have one standard and one slotted blade. This unique design cuts fewer fibers on each clip which helps to quickly and gradually thin out areas where fibers may have been tied-in too thick. They are also great for helping to blend two colors more naturally together, and the slotted blade could even be used to help tease out dubbing.
Like two razor blades, Razor scissors feature thin, very sharp blades that quickly cut various materials. The price of these scissors is usually a bit more compared to standard designs, but if you're willing to pay a bit more for additional sharpness, these are worth considering.
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