Fly tying bobbin holder

With the right fly tying bobbin holder you can handle any kind of thread

Fly-tying bobbin holders are certainly among the most basic and indispensable tools for tying your flies. They hold the tying yarn firmly, fixing it at the same time so that the yarn does not run uncontrollably off the spool. At the same time, they make it easier for you to tie in the other tying materials, because you determine the pull-off resistance and thus the tension with which the tying materials are tied onto the hook. In addition, you can let the tying yarn hang freely under the fly on the fly-tying bobbin holder without your fly disintegrating into its individual parts. This way you have both hands free to prepare the materials for the next tying step. Simple fly-tying bobbin holders are also suitable for all these tasks. When buying a fly-tying bobbin holder, you should mainly pay attention on the following points: that it can hold all types of yarn spools, that the pull-off resistance can be easily adjusted and that the thread guide fits the respective tying yarn. This is because superfine tying yarns in particular can notch the thread guide and the sharp edges of these notches will damage or even cut the thread under tension.

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A bobbin holder, sometimes just called bobbin, is a very simple to use but essential tool for tying artificial flies. Its role is basically to allow you to handle the spool of the fly-tying thread in a practical manner and then easily wind the thread around the shank of the hook. As you already know, the tying thread allows you to firmly attach the different materials to the hook that will form the artificial fly. The bobbin holder will avoid the uncontrolled release of the tying thread from the spool. Moreover, you can leave the bobbin holder hanging free under the hook to take breaks between tying the various materials in without the already tied materials coming off the hook because the weight of the bobbin holder and the spool will keep the tying thread under tension.


There are various forms and types of bobbin holders, here we will try to explain the main characteristics of the various models so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs:

  • Bobbin holder with 2 legs
  • One-legged bobbin holder with adjustable drag
  • Thread tube: ceramic, steel or plastic?


Bobbin holders with 2 wire legs are certainly the most widely used among artificial fly tiers, both novices and professionals and generally feature a Y-shape design. They are simple and versatile, and especially if you are a beginner you should rely on these models for tying your artificial flies.

Nowadays, thread spools are almost all standard and all the bobbin holders listed in our online shop, despite their different arm widths, fit almost all spools on the market. The thread spools you will find in our online shop are all compatible with any bobbin holder.

Remember that the more the legs of the bobbin holder tighten the spool, the more tension there will be in pulling the tying thread out and vice versa. If the tension on the tying thread is to high just lower the pressure the wire legs put on the spool by simply bending the wire legs slightly to spread them out.

There are also adjustable bobbin holders with 2 legs, which allow you to moderate the tension of the thread without having to bend the wire legs, such as the BOBTEC 1 and BOBTEC 2 bobbin holders from Stonfo by simply regulating the pressure via a slider.


It is primarily a matter of personal taste which of the two basic types of bobbin holders you use to tie your artificial flies. One-legged bobbin holders with adjustable tying yarn spool brake differ from the previous described models in that they have a screw-adjustable drag that allows you to fine-tune the pull-off resistance of the tying thread.

Replacing the tying yarn spool is slightly more cumbersome with this type of bobbin holder but not complicated. The only thing you must watch out for is the width of the spool and the size of the hole in the spool which must be large enough for you to fit it onto the bobbin holder’s axis. The standardisation of the various products should not cause you any problems in this respect unless you use special or very old spools.


Apart from the construction type of the bobbin holder, there are other very important features that you should consider when buying a bobbin holder. One of these undoubtedly include the extremities of the bobbin holder tube, which are the main contact points between thread and bobbin holder. There is nothing more annoying than the fly-tying thread breaking shortly before you end up with your artificial fly and your imitation literally disintegrates in front of you.

To prevent this, the tube is generally lined with one of these materials:

  • ceramic
  • steel
  • plastic

The lining must necessarily have a smooth and resistant surface. You must consider that these contact points have to withstand the passage of hundreds of metres of tying thread. Modern fly-tying yarns are usually very thin and under tension the slightest unevenness is enough to damage them, causing them to break or at least fraying out. In addition, the synthetic materials of that modern threads can wear down even very strong materials like steel in the long run.


If you often tie artificial flies with modern, super-thin fly-tying threads, ceramic is definitely the best choice because it has an extremely smooth and durable surface. The only thing you need to be careful of is not to let it take any blows, as the ceramic could be irreparably chipped and make the bobbin holder unusable.


Steel is definitely a good compromise: smooth, strong and cheap. Compared to ceramic it is less prone to damage if you drop it but in the long run it could create roughness on the edge if you were to use the very thin modern fly-tying threads often.


Plastic is also very good but is preferred when using yarns that are not too thin. It is certainly perfect to be combined with the construction of traditional fly patterns using cotton threads. This type of bobbin holder is much more resistant to impact than ceramic also. But if you tie a lot, it may wear out sooner than the other models, especially when combined with the thinner and more modern synthetic tying yarns.


On a standard bobbin holder, the thread spool is simply clipped between the 2 wire legs which will hold it in place, whereas on a single arm bobbin holder you need to unscrew the side screw, insert the spool on the single arm axis and screw the side screw back in, which will then also act as a drag.

Once the spool is placed on the bobbin holder you need to pass the thread through the appropriate tube, which is extremely quick and easy if done correctly but very frustrating if you don't know how to do it. The most practical way is to use a threader.

There are many different types of those little helpers, but they are all good and do exactly the same thing. You simply insert the threader into the bobbin holder tube from the tip towards the spool, hook or loop the fly-tying thread onto it and pull the threader back out.


A bobbin holder needs to fit comfortably in your hand, as it is the fly-tying tool you use the most. An ergonomic shape makes it easier to grip and the tying process more enjoyable.

You can use a small rubber band to secure the tying yarn to the bobbin holder when you have finished to tie your artificial fly, so that it does not slip out of the tube and force you to rethread it before the next construction session.

For convenience, it would be ideal to have 3 or 4 bobbin holders loaded with the tying thread you use most, to avoid having to constantly change the thread.