Thread tension

morayfisher

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Hi All,

I have googled this and seen advice ranging from “as tight as possible without breaking the thread" to “just tight enough to suspend the bobbin holder”.
Also things like winding the thread around the leg of the holder before it goes through the tube or starting with minimal tension and “palm” the bobbin or squeeze the legs as you wrap to vary tension.
The above assumes a standard, two wire legged holder.
How do you control yours?
Or, is there any merit in holders with adjustable drag, if so which ones?

cheers

John
 

flytire

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i adjust the bobbin holder arms and palm the thread spool. its hard to describe verbally how much compression i'm applying to the thread spool. after 40+ years of tying i know whats right for me

i do not believe wrapping the thread around an arm of the bobbin holder adds additional tension

youll have to adjust your bobbin holder to your tying style
 

Paul_B

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I use the older type bobbin holder and just squeeze the arms in so if I drop the holder it swing rather than drops.
When tying I hold the bobbin to adjust how tight I want the cotton.
 

suzzy buzzer

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It’s a really good habit to learn to control thread tension by palming the spool of thread. So with that in mind try and set the bobbin so it won’t fall under its own weight, and the rest is done by hand, so to speak.
If when making multiple wraps you find the tip of the bobbin holder further and further away from the fly, then apply more pressure ; if you find yourself getting closer, apply a bit less. It’ll soon become second nature.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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I've been tying flies for 50 years and have never used a bobbin holder.

It's like taking a bath with yer socks on... 😜

Ask Mark Knopfler or Derek Trucks why they never use a plectrum to play the guitar... ;)

Col
 
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baca157

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Buy a Rite bobbin holder John. Tension adjustment on it is the best on the market in my opinion. Worth every penny. They got fairly expensive in recent years but still good value. The only challange is spinning the bobbin when splitting the threat - it’s not symmetrical so it wobbles a bit but I got used to it. I set it so it’s tight but not tight enough to break the thread.

Just one thing - Rite bobbin holder will only fit standard size spools - can’t use it with Gossamer - I use standard Tiemco ceramic bobbin holder for those small spools.

You could also try to go bobbinless like Col but that’s hardcore.

Cheers,
Sebastian
 

PaulD

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I've been tying flies for 50 years and have never used a bobbin holder.
Col

Indeed, that was the case. Tying instructions would start with, 'Take 10 inches of tying thread and attach it just behind the eye.'

However, in those days we never commonly used dubbing loops, split thread techniques, used 20/0 ultrafine multifibre threads or used a multitude of other 'mondern-day' wonderments that make a bobbin holder a sound investment.

Come to think of it, there have been notable tiers who 'tied in the hand' without the benefit of a vice. Moc Morgan tied me an excellent sewin fly in his hand and I treasure it to this day. So best to forget all this modern plethora of nonsense, vice, bobbins, whip finish tools etc and become a proper tier like the Cap'n says.
 

morayfisher

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Buy a Rite bobbin holder John. Tension adjustment on it is the best on the market in my opinion. Worth every penny. They got fairly expensive in recent years but still good value. The only challange is spinning the bobbin when splitting the threat - it’s not symmetrical so it wobbles a bit but I got used to it. I set it so it’s tight but not tight enough to break the thread.

Just one thing - Rite bobbin holder will only fit standard size spools - can’t use it with Gossamer - I use standard Tiemco ceramic bobbin holder for those small spools.

You could also try to go bobbinless like Col but that’s hardcore.

Cheers,
Sebastian
Cheers Sebastian,

I’m sure you gave me advice on this some time ago and I couldn’t remember what you said then.

John
 

baca157

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Cheers Sebastian,

I’m sure you gave me advice on this some time ago and I couldn’t remember what you said then.

John
Yeah I probably did John. Not everyone likes Rite bobbin holders because they are asymmetrical but I love them. Have few others but always reach for Rite first. And they are build to last. Solid.

Cheers
Sebastian
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Interesting. How do you control the thread?

From my fingers. I have never given it a second thought. I taught myself from Geoffrey Bucknall's book in the 1960s. He didn't use a bobbin holder, so I never bought one. It is that simple!

His list of the basic tool requirements was:

An efficient vice
Medium and small hackle pliers
Sharp-pointed surgical scissors, curved and straight-bladed
Dubbing needle
Razor blades

His philosophy behind that list was (quoting from his book):

"There are also some special tools which I do not recommend - no doubt they are efficient, but it is my contention that we should not use tools for work that our fingers can do. This is not sheer sentiment for a 'handicraft'. One aspect of fly dressing is difficult to describe in words; it is the 'feel' that a pair of wings is settling down perfectly, that a turn of thread is tight enough. This feel can only grow through the fingers, so the rule is never to hold a tool to a job that the fingers can do."

That's always been good enough for me. All I do to add enough tension to the thread when I am hands-free is I suspend the thread on it's own reel. And that's it. ;)

Col
 
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morayfisher

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From my fingers. I have never given it a second thought. I taught myself from Geoffrey Bucknall's book in the 1960s. He didn't use a bobbin holder, so I never bought one. It is that simple!

His list of the basic tool requirements was:

An efficient vice
Medium and small hackle pliers
Sharp-pointed surgical scissors, curved and straight-bladed
Dubbing needle
Razor blades

His philosophy behind that list was (quoting from his book):

"There are also some special tools which I do not recommend - no doubt they are efficient, but it is my contention that we should not use tools for work that our fingers can do. This is not sheer sentiment for a 'handicraft'. One aspect of fly dressing is difficult to describe in words; it is the 'feel' that a pair of wings is settling down perfectly, that a turn of thread is tight enough. This feel can only grow through the fingers, so the rule is never to hold a tool to a job that the fingers can do."

That's always been good enough for me. All I do to add enough tension to the thread when I am hands-free is I suspend the thread on it's own reel. And that's it. ;)

Col
Fair enough Col. I appreciate the philosophy but I think now I’ve started with bobbin holders that’s it for me. Rough skin on my clumsy fingers as well.
 

morayfisher

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Yeah I probably did John. Not everyone likes Rite bobbin holders because they are asymmetrical but I love them. Have few others but always reach for Rite first. And they are build to last. Solid.

Cheers
Sebastian
Apologies for all the questions Sebastian, one more for now. Would the Rite ‘standard’ at £22 do me for trout flies?
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Fair enough Col. I appreciate the philosophy but I think now I’ve started with bobbin holders that’s it for me. Rough skin on my clumsy fingers as well.

For sure - I suffer from that myself. I actually bought a bobbin holder after many years without one, just to try and get round the rough skin fraying the thread issue. But I couldn't get on with it - it was just an encumbrance - always needing pulled down out the way one minute and then wound back up into play the next minute. It was just a lump of stuff in the way of me tying flies. I realised Geoffrey Bucknall was right. So, it got thrown in the back of the cupboard, where it has remained to this day. I just make sure I have plenty moisturising lotion rubbed into my hands before starting tying, to keep the fraying to a minimum. That and knowing which threads are better than others for 'finger tyers'... an issue not helped by being a left-handed tyer in a world of right-handed twists on threads! :rolleyes:

Col
 

morayfisher

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For sure - I suffer from that myself. I actually bought a bobbin holder after many years without one, just to try and get round the rough skin fraying the thread issue. But I couldn't get on with it - it was just an encumbrance - always needing pulled down out the way one minute and then wound back up into play the next minute. It was just a lump of stuff in the way of me tying flies. I realised Geoffrey Bucknall was right. So, it got thrown in the back of the cupboard, where it has remained to this day. I just make sure I have plenty moisturising lotion rubbed into my hands before starting tying, to keep the fraying to a minimum. That and knowing which threads are better than others for 'finger tyers'... an issue not helped by being a left-handed tyer in a world of right-handed twists on threads! :rolleyes:

Col
When you say “left handed tyer” do you handle the thread (bobbin) with your left hand?
Only interested because I am left handed but find it natural to use the bobbin holder in my right hand.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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When you say “left handed tyer” do you handle the thread (bobbin) with your left hand?
Only interested because I am left handed but find it natural to use the bobbin holder in my right hand.

Yep - I mean I am left-handed, as in Jimi Hendrix, John McEnroe, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.

My set-up looks like this from my side...



I know a few fellow lefties who taught themselves from books where the instructor was right-handed and they simply followed the diagrams and ended up tying right-handed. Maybe that includes you?

The implication for tying flies left-handed is that a lot of threads have a twist in them that tightens when wound right-handed, but unravels and splays apart when wound left-handed. You can see the thread splaying a bit in that shot - and that is one of the better ones for lefties - Uni 6/0. Given the choice between struggling with splaying thread on my fingers, and using a bobbin holder, I still prefer to struggle with the thread. 🤪

Col
 

baca157

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Apologies for all the questions Sebastian, one more for now. Would the Rite ‘standard’ at £22 do me for trout flies?
Hi John. Yep - that’s the one I have and I used it for all my trout flies and big salmon flies as well.

Cheers,
Sebastian
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Isn't "thread tension" what's applied to the last bit of material attached to the hook? Bob Carnill used just a clothes peg while his thread dangled.

Aye, well, that will be what I have - just the spool of thread hanging on itself. Dunno why Bob needed the clothes peg??? :unsure:
 

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