The types of material used can change the look of the fly as much as the weave itself. Over the years, I have experimented with many different types of materials. Mixing materials can create unique effects. (For example I like to use a fuzzy material for the top and smooth one for the bottom.) Below is some information on materials that I have used in the past.
This is one of the most versatile materials to use with woven flies. It comes in skeins that can be divided into six strands. These strands can be used to tie flies down to size 30. When used for weaving it creates a fairly smooth body. It is easy to weave with because the cotton does not slip easily. Another benefit of embroidery floss is that it comes in over 400 colors. Embroidery floss is available in most fabric and craft stores.
Punch Yarn (Polyester)
There are many different types of punch yarn, but the material I am referring to is very fine and consists of many fibers. It is similar to antron, but the individual fibers are finer. Most flies require more than one strand. Larger flies require 3 or 4 strands. Punch yarn lays flat when weaving. The finer material creates a nice looking fly. Punch yarn can be found in some craft and fabric stores – but you might have to look online if you can’t find it at a physical store.
Superbug yarn is a polypropylene yarn that looks similar to a dubbed body. It is a single ply material that does not work well for smaller patterns. It works well for stonefly patterns and other nymphs. Most colors are variegated which makes a realistic looking fly. It is not available in many fly shops, and might need to be ordered online.
Metallic Embroidery Floss
This floss is metallic and adds a nice shine to flies. It can be combined with other materials to add just a bit of sparkle. For example, you can take two strands of metallic floss and combined with 2 strands of cotton floss to create a unique look. Metallic floss can be found in most fabric or craft stores.
Antron is a material that has many individual fibers. The individual fibers create a sparkle in the material. Smaller lengths can be divided into smaller amounts, although this is difficult to do without making a mess. Antron makes a nice braid, but sometimes individual fibers break or fray which causes the braid to look messy. Be careful when working with Antron around the point of the hook. It can be helpful to tie a knot at the end of the material when braiding. Antron can be found in most flyshops. It comes wrapped on cardboard and around spools.
Ultra Chenille or Vernille
This tightly packed version of chenille works well for larger flies – especially nymphs. It can be combined with other materials to create unique patterns. It is found in fly shops and typically comes in 3 to 5 yard lengths and a variety of colors.
Satin or Rayon Embroidery Floss
This is similar material to embroidery floss but comes in. It is more difficult to work with than cotton embroidery floss because it has a slicker surface. However, it creates a shiny fly. It is found in fabric and craft stores and comes in about 30 or so colors. It is a little bit more expensive than regular embroidery floss.
This flexible body material creates unique woven bodies. It can be filled with oil for a more interesting look. It is translucent so the underbody color shows through. It is a little bit difficult to create an even weave as the material stretches during the weaving process. I do not suggest starting with liquid lace when making woven flies. Liquid Lace is available in many fly shops and online.