The Best Fly Tying Bobbins Reviewed for 2024

A well-crafted fly is truly a thing of beauty, and if you’ve tried your hand at following a trout’s senses, you know how important precision really is.

A good bobbin is a fly-tying essential, allowing you to craft clean, neat flies by providing perfect tension and a continuous, consistent feed of thread. And as simple a tool as a bobbin is, there are plenty of models out there that provide too much or too little tension, wear thread as they feed, or just can’t maintain constant pressure.

If you’re a fly-tying enthusiast, or if you’re just getting started on this addictive hobby, you’re probably in the market for a high-quality bobbin.

We’re here to help, and below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite bobbins.

Quick glance at the best fly tying bobbins:

Related:

Best Fly Tying Bobbins Reviewed

Rite Ceramic Standard Bobbin - Best Premium Fly-Tying Bobbin

Rite Ceramic Standard Bobbin

Amazon 

Rite’s Ceramic Standard is the gold standard against which all other bobbins are judged.

The tension it applies to the spool is fully adjustable, allowing you to improve control and present breakage with very light threads. It releases with greater smoothness than even the Dr. Slick, and sports a ceramic tube insert that protects hair-fine thread from fraying.

The only downside to the Rite Ceramic is that it’s fairly expensive, and if you’re the kind of person who likes to pre-load different threads on individual bobbins, buying a legion of these tools can get pricey.

Pros:

  • Ceramic tubing insert to protect thread
  • Adjustable tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • Expensive

Rite Half Hitch Bobbin - Best Whip-Finish Fly-tying Bobbin

Rite Bobbin Half Hitch Mag

Amazon 

When you’re tying a complex fly, failing to whip finish can lead to disaster as your meticulous work unravels.

Rite’s Half Hitch bobbin solves this problem by adding a specially-shaped barrel that allows whip finishing. For longer, more involved flies, that’s a game changing addition to an adjustable-tension design.

Like the standard ceramic, this Rite bobbin is pretty much in a class all its own in terms of performance and quality, but it doesn’t come cheap.

Pros:

  • Specially shaped barrel allows whip finishing
  • Polished stainless tubing to protect thread
  • Adjustable tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • Expensive

Dr. Slick Glass Bobbin with Delrin Feet - Best Budget Fly-Tying Bobbin

Dr. Slick Glass Bobbin, 4', Dual Glass Inserts, Delrin Feet

Amazon 

Dr. Slick’s tools have a well-earned reputation for quality, and their glass bobbin is no exception.

What sets this bobbin apart for us is the protection glass offers to fine thread. And when you’re tying a complex fly with hair-thin material, a rough bobbin just won’t get the job done. This Dr. Slick will, providing ultra-smooth tubing.

The Delrin feet on this bobbin provide a very nice, consistent tension as well, and you’ll forget about the tool as you tie, perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to anything you work with.

The only thing we don’t love about this bobbin is that the tubing is very slender, and without a threader, you’re going to need keen eyesight and a remarkably steady hand!

Of course, glass isn’t a durable material, so you’ll need to take some care with this bobbin. But if you tie flies that demand ultra-thin thread, this Dr. Slick is very hard to beat.

Pros:

  • Ultra-slick glass tubing to protect tiny thread
  • Good tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • Fragile

Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin

Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin, One Size

Amazon 

Stonfo’s Elite Disc-Drag Bobbin is a fantastic fly-tying tool. 

The steel tube is well-polished, with a unique shape and design of its nozzle to prevent fraying. 

The disc drag system allows you to precisely determine the tension you wish to apply to the spool, and its easy adjustment is a real boon when you’re tying multiple styles of flies or switching thread often.

The only downside to a disc-drag system is that accidentally bumping the knob with your hand while tying can change the tension you’ve set, so be careful about that. Despite this being a concern, if you're tying with a bobbin in hand, this is one of your best choices, as it fits well and feels good.

Pros:

  • Well-polished steel tubing to protect thread
  • Fully-adjustable tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • You can inadvertently bump the tension knob

Loon Outdoors Ergo Bobbin

Loon Outdoors Ergo Bobbin

Amazon 

Loon Outdoors’s Ergo Bobbin is a great tool, no question about it, though there are better options on our shortlist today.

The Ergo makes use of tensioning arms that can be bent to apply more or less pressure to your spool. And while I’m not opposed to this system, it’s often best to buy a few of this style of bobbin, load them with a specific thread, and bend the arms to provide the ideal tension for this one choice. 

You then swap bobbins rather than spools when you need to use another thread.

That can get pricey, but it’s the best way - in my opinion - to use this style of bobbin.

The Ergo features a smooth, polished tube of steel, and the distinctive yellow grip makes this a nice bobbin for tying in-hand.

If you use the Ergo in conjunction with a vice, be aware that it’s quite a bit longer than average, and you’ll need to ensure that there’s sufficient space to use this model.

Pros:

  • Well-polished steel tubing to protect thread
  • Adjustable tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • Best if used with a single thread type
  • Longer than average bobbins

Umpqua Dream Stream Medium Bobbin

Umpqua Dream Stream Medium Bobbin Red

Amazon 

Umpqua’s Dream Stream is a basic fly-tying bobbin that won’t cost an arm and a leg, making it ideal for new enthusiasts or seasoned pros who want a number of bobbins each loaded with a specific thread type.

This no-frills design uses tensioning arms to provide pressure on your spool, and they work effectively in this role. The stainless steel tube holds up to years of use, and it does an admirable job preventing fraying and breaking.

For the price, this is a sweet bobbin, and if you’re looking to buy several, it’s a great option.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Well-polished steel tubing to protect thread
  • Excellent tension and consistent release

Cons:

  • Really basic

Buying Guide: What You Should Look For in a Fly-Tying Bobbin

Tension

Bobbins are essential for tying flies because they allow you to maintain tension on your thread as you wrap and tie. Without their assistance, it’s nearly impossible to tie flies properly.

Of course, that means that proper tensioning is perhaps the most important factor to consider when buying a new bobbin.

There are two general bobbin designs, one that employs arms to create pressure on a pair of spool holders and another that uses a disc system to apply pressure on the spool directly.

Bobbins that use arms to provide tension can typically be adjusted by bending them to create more or less drag on the spool, allowing you to create just the right tension for the thread you’re using. The downside to this is that making these changes from spool to spool can be frustratingly tedious, and many fly enthusiasts prefer to buy more than one bobbin, loading each with a unique thread choice.

Bobbins that use disc systems are easy to set and adjust as you change spools, but they tend to be more expensive, too.

Whichever system suits your needs, you’ll want constant, steady pressure to ensure tight, neat flies.

Protection

When you need ultra-thin thread to tie a tiny fly, not only must the tension be perfect, but also the protection afforded by the tubing or nozzle of your bobbin.

As thread rolls off the spool, it travels through the tubing and onto your fly, but often at an acute angle. This demands that the tubing be made from slick, highly polished materials, often stainless steel - or in some cases - ceramics or glass.

The less friction the less chance of breakage or fraying.

But nothing lasts forever, and over time, thread will wear almost invisible channels in even the hardest materials, and these imperfections can cause fraying. This is especially true if you choose to run wire through your bobbin.

Comfort

Since you’ll be working with the bobbin in your hand, comfort matters.

Some bobbins are a bit easier to control than others, but this is largely a matter of personal taste.

Length

Length matters.

When you’re tying flies with a lot of fluff, a long-nose bobbin is a great option for getting over and around materials. By contrast, a short-nosed bobbin is a better choice for smaller lies where you need to get in close to your work.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which bobbin is the right choice for you - only you know exactly what you need and prefer.

But we can recommend several of the bobbins from our shortlist.

Dr. Slick’s Glass Bobbin with Delrin Feet is a great buy, offering excellent performance for a very reasonable price. We found the tension this bobbin applied to the spool to be great, ,and the glass tubing does an excellent job protecting fine thread.

But if you’re looking for all-out performance, it’s almost impossible to beat the Rite Ceramic Standard Bobbin and the Rite Half Hitch Bobbin. Both models offer an easy-to-adjust disc system for applying tension to the spool. The Standard uses a short length of ceramic to protect your thread, while the Half Hitch employs a specially shaped nozzle that allows for whip finishing.

Whichever you prefer, you’ll be well-pleased with the Rites.

We hope that this article has helped you choose your next (or first) bobbin, and as always, we’re here to answer any questions or field any comments you might have.

Please leave a message below, and we’ll be in touch!

About The Author
John Baltes