How to Make a Whip Finish Tool

by James McElroy
A whip finish gives your fly a clean head.

A whip finish gives your fly a clean head.

Your whip finish tool helps give a finished fly a clean and slender head and smooth hackle tie-off point. If you do not have a whip finish tool or have broken yours, you can always fashion a homemade tool from common household items. It is possible to make a whip finish tool in a pinch so you never have to use clumsy overhand knots to finish off a fly.

Cut the hook off of the top of a wire coat hanger with wire cutters. Make the cut where the curve of the hook stops bending.

Bend a small hook into one end of the wire. Gasp the very tip of the wire with the pliers and turn it outward from the direction of the main curve of the wire. Imagine the wire as a complete circle; the bend is away from the center of the circle.

Turn the tip of the other end of the wire to a 90-degree angle that leaves the tip pointing away from the inside of the imaginary circle.

Cut a dowel rod or wood pencil to about 6 inches.

Saw a diagonal slot into the tip of the dowel rod. With the dowel perpendicular to the ground, saw at a 45-degree angle to the dowel until the slot reaches all the way across the tip of the dowel and emerges from one side of the dowel along its length. When you are finished, the top part of the saw blade will have barely cut across the diameter of the tip of the dowel, while the lower part of the blade emerges from the shaft of the dowel.

Secure the wire into the slot in the dowel rod with wood glue, with the opening in the wire's arc facing away from the dowel rod. Make the center of the wire arc rest along the slanted slot you cut into the dowel, then clamp it in place until it dries.

Items you will need

  • Wire hanger
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Dowel rod
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
  • Clamp

Tips

  • You can also whip finish a fly using only your fingers.
  • Whip finish tools are also useful for tying off thread after you have sewn a button onto a shirt.

About the Author

James McElroy began his journalism career in 2001 and his stories have appeared in newspapers around the world, including "The Columbus Dispatch" and "The Star-Ledger." He studied journalism at the E.W. Scripps Graduate School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images