When you have carefully constructed a fly to ensure proper durability, size, color, and proportions, it's no doubt a very satisfying feeling. After the tying is complete and the thread is snipped, you may even just sit there and stare at it in the vise for a minute or two—a thing of beauty! Part of that construction process typically involves wrapping a nice thread head to secure the last of the materials and finish off the bug.
What happens if you mess this part up? At the very least it'll be aesthetically unpleasing—meaning either way too big or just plain sloppy. At the worst, it may be either hard or impossible to adequately secure the last of the fly's fibers. While it's a very basic problem, beginning fly tyers can struggle with consistently making neat thread heads. I did at first, but those days are way behind me now. Here's some simple fly tying tips to help you make neater heads!
Material Amount- Beginning fly tyers may have a tendency to go a bit too heavy on materials, regardless of the fly's size. When tying-in something like bucktail at the head, be very careful when selecting the amount. Often times, less is more—meaning less material can both look more natural and produce better action. If you go too heavy on materials at the head of the fly, they can bulk up the head VERY quickly and make the fly difficult to finish off cleanly.
Thread Thickness- If you're tying flies of different sizes, you'll obviously want to use different thread thicknesses—beefier thread for tying down larger materials for bigger flies, and fine-diameter thread for tiny flies. Using a thread thickness that's overkill for a small hook is a surefire way to bulk-up the thread head way too fast. For additional info on thread, you can click right here.
Make Room- One of the simplest ways to aid in constructing a good thread head is to simply plan ahead and leave some room! In the fly tying tutorials that have been posted thus far, you may have noticed that I always leave ample open space just behind the eye of the hook to comfortably tie-in whatever material I'm using. If this is not done, the material may not be secured properly and subsequent thread wraps may even overlap the hook eye. If I know I'll have a bulky material or several different materials to secure at the head, I'll likely leave an extra hair of additional room.