If you were asked to list fly tying tools, the bodkin would probably be the last tool on your list. It might not even be on your list at all. The bodkin is a simple tool used to accurately position thread wraps, pluck out material caught under other materials, or to apply a small amount of cement to a precise spot.


Bodkin made from Deer Antler

You can buy a bodkin for a very small amount of money and most fly tying kits come with one. I have one made by a Japanese company that cost $35. It has a small needle tip that is slightly bent. The handle also serves as a dubbing brush and it can also be used as a half hitch tool. But,you can make one with a sewing needle and a piece of wood dowel. Drill a small hole in the end of the dowel and epoxy the needle in the hole, simple, cheap and effective.

I have made several using deer antler. Needles of different lengths and sizes can be found in the Doll Making section of Hobby Lobby. I have also seen some made using pieces of old bamboo rods that became unusable. No matter how they are made, they all work the same way.

The problem I have with bodkins is that I can not find them when I need them. I don’t always keep my work space as neat as I should. So when I lay the bodkin down, I usually can’t find it without hunting for it. I have tried placing it in a foam block with the needle pointing up. Usually, I impale my hand on the needle. One solution used by many is to place steel wool in a plastic film container. Punch a hole in the lid and stick the bodkin needle through the hole. This holds a small bodkin so you can easily find it. It also cleans cement from the needle. After repeatedly sticking the needle into the steel wool, the needle becomes very sharp. On several occasions attempting to clean epoxy from the needle, I have pushed the needle through the bottom of the plastic container impaling my hand again.

Finally, I have found a solution. WoodCraft sells a small metal canister with a plastic insert in the top that is larger that a film can but not so large that it takes up a lot of space on the tying bench. It is designed to hold small parts such as nuts or bolts. It will hold the largest bodkin and can not be pierced by the bodkin. The last one I bought cost around $2.

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