Thoughts on getting into fly tying...

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by mwdehaan, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Hi guys. Well I just broke down and ordered in about 60 bucks worth of Orvis flies. One wise fisherman told me he believed a lot of these fancy lures/flies were made more to catch men then fish. Which brings me to the Schultzy Red Eye Leech, a pretty looking fly. I was up at Bonaparte Lake here in Okanogan County, and I was rowing along with a black one in tow when a big fish nabbed it up, a few minutes later it breaks me off and jumps one last time to say good bye. It was an18" trout. I couldn't tell for sure what it was, it had the coloring of a kokanee but I've never seen one that big before so maybe it was just a rainbow.

    Anyways with that being my only leech of that kind I decided to order some more, black ones having a 5 week waiting period. My question is, is tying your own flies, is it worth it? When I priced out materials for tying things like chironomids it looked like you could tie quality ones for .70c, while the fly shops charge $2. To me that looked like a good deal.

    But take a look at this leech...
    For my inexperienced eye it looks pretty complex and too pretty to be easily tied. It costs $2.95, plus some shipping charges. I'm wondering how hard these would be to tie, but more importantly would it be cost efficient to even try? I'm sure I'd tie them in all different sizes and gladly make them in bulk.

    Thanks guys, I'm very interested in getting into fly tying. My Grandpa handed down to me his old fly tying kit along with some random materials that I don't know how to use yet haha. So any help would be much appreciated!
  2. I just got into it this week. If you have the vise and tools and some materials then it might be cost effective in the short term if you only want to tie one pattern in one color. In the long run tying all sorts of patterns in different colors and sizes you may break even if you aren't in the red.

    The only way you might save money is if you tie flies that are more durable than some of the store bought flies that can be cheaply made and fall apart quickly.
  3. I'm understanding that in the short term it wouldn't be cost efficient. But after using up all the materials, maybe 20 flies later? Would it be possible to save half the cost if I'd have bought those 20 flies at a shop? The reality of me using all 20 flies is a possibility when maybe tying 2-3 of each in 4 different sizes, as well as sharing these patterns with family. I could see different colors factoring in, but you'd still be using the same hooks, possibly beads, etc, so some would cross over. Also not factoring in the time it takes to tie these. My time isn't worth much right now and I'd most likely be tying while I'm watching a show or movie :)
  4. All the other guys on here are much more versed than I am in this, but I priced out materials that I bought at the shop versus the same amount of flies I could tie. Without including the initial start-up cost, I could save maybe $0.10 per fly. But in order to do so I would have to tie about 50 size 8 olive bead head wooley buggers. I don't know about you, but I probably wont run through 50 in a year or even 2. And the materials for wooley buggers is pretty cheap compared to a lot of stuff.

    If you add in the cost for the vise and tools, if I save $0.10 per fly, I'm going to have to tie several hundred flies before I come close to breaking even.

    From what experienced tiers tell me, you aren't going to end up saving much, if any, money. Rather, just tie for the enjoyment of it!
  5. That was another thought I wondered about. If people tied to save money, for the enjoyment, for the artistry to make something new and catch something on it, or maybe a bit of everything.

    I wasn't sure if someone waited around for good deals on fly tying material, ebay or what not. Or even got some of the materials themselves to save from paying 3 dollars a fly.
  6. I've been tying for 8-9 years now. I have way more $$ into my materials and tools than if I'd just bought the flies I needed when I needed them. But that's not the point. It's become my primary creative outlet and it's just another facet of fly fishing. I like what I tie now better than what I see in the shops (although that is relatively new . . .gotta stick with it, find good materials, etc).
  7. You will never save money tying flies, but that is not why most people tie. Its the pleasure involoved in getting deeper into the sport, of figuring out not only how to tie a pattern, but how to tie it well, of being creative and solving specific issues for specific fisheries. But yeah, if I sold all of my tying stuff for half price I'd still make a fortune.
  8. Haha, thanks guys, much appreciated.
  9. If you're running a cost/benefit analysis then tying flies may not be for you. Or you take the plunge and find out that something simpler (and if you're still worried about $$, cheaper) like a marabou leech may work just as well. Plus, the only waiting period you'll have to deal with is the time it takes you to tie up the bugs you want. Those flies, tied up the night before a trip or in the truck on-stream tend to have magical fish-catching powers, based in part from your desperation. I was tying up a bunch of zebra midges in my car one evening last spring and it was so cold I had trouble even getting the bead on the hook; had to use my headlamp to get enough good light to see what I was doing, too. Flies were ugly but the fish were willing.

    Jamie Wilson likes this.
  10. after tying 30+ years, i will NEVER recoup the money i spent on fly tying . you're fooling yourself if you think 20 flies will get back the money you spent.
  11. i second all that has been said about saving money, and i'll give you a nice example.
    You start fly tying, buy materials for a fly , get home, tie said flies and like them. then you post them on forum, "hey, i tied some nice flies, my first" and ask for critique.
    You get great positive comments, but also some stuff to improve which entails buying more materials to better fit the same flies you just tied, ex, hackles.
    So you got to the store again and buy the hackles recommended.
    Now, you've been to the store twice, lets say the second time you pick up some extra stuff for the next fly you want to tie, 'since you're already at the store'.
    Two trips, and maybe you're out $50 including gas etc.

    Now, would you have spent $50 on flies for the fishing trip. Maybe, but here's the thing, the materials will tie you more flies than 10 or 20, they crossover to other patterns. But thats materials for just two patterns, and simple patterns at that.

    6 Months down the line, you're well into fly tying, its relaxing, you enjoy it. Lets say two trips to the tackle store for fly tying materials per month, for 6 months, = 12 trips, $30 a trip = $360. (more if you shop online, but we'll not count that yet)
    Now ask yourself this - if you were to buy flies, would you spend $360 in 6 months. or $720 in year? I think not, unless you're buying display flies.

    5 years down the line, you like the look of display flies, want to start tying them.
    Materials are in some instances rare and expensive, even the hooks ($15 for 6), you start to buy those materials, lets say the budget entry level in case you dont stick with it. You end up sticking with it and get pretty decent at tying display flies. You start to search out rare and expensive materials. The purchases in one week from three different sources >$120. always searching ebay and other site, picking up what you can find when you find it, in case you never see it again, lets say an Argus pheasant feather from Netherlands for $35 shipped -ONE FEATHER.

    Now ask yourself, are you doing it to save money, or are you doing it because you love it. If the answer is the first, its time to get help. if the answer is the second, you tie because you love it, its relaxing, its creative, your addicted to it. its still time to get help, but you can put it off for a while :cool:

    This is drawn from two real life experiences. My own, and that of another forum member.
    From my own standpoint, this year alone i've spend way more on fly tying materials than i have on flies - guess how many times i've been fishing - - - lets say i can count it on one hand.

    mwdehaan likes this.
  12. I like the short lead time. You loose a really productive fly tie a few up. Go fishing. No waiting around for shipping.
  13. Thank you.
  14. I think we've established that tying your own flies isn't going to save you any money. But, there are very real practical decisions that make it worth it:
    -As long as you have materials, you won't run out of flies.
    -When you get good enough there's no fly pattern you can't have. Want a dozen purple Zoo Cougars in your box? Just tie 'em.
    -You can customize patterns to suit you and the fish. Don't underestimate this one; the first time you tie something and tweak it somehow because you think it'll work- and it does- it's a big shot for the ego.
    -You'll be able to tie flies that you just can't buy. Period.
    -It'll make you a better fisherman. Knowing that you can tie a dozen more when you run out, you'll take more risks with your flies and catch more fish.
    -You won't have to go to the shop to "stock up" before a fishing trip. Although, stopping in at a fly fishing shop is never a bad idea....
    -Satisfaction, of course. Catching fish on flies you tied yourself is wonderfully self indulgent. Letting your buddies have a few of those flies so they can catch fish too is also rewarding, and possibly gets you free beer.
    -One day, you'll come up with your own fly and catch fish with it. That accomplishment may be the holy grail of every hobby fly tier. Personally I'm convinced that there's probably nothing you can tie onto a hook that hasn't been done over the last few hundred years. But if you came up with it without following a recipe, then you own it!

    Although you never really recoup your money from tying flies, you do eventually reach a point where you're spending a whole lot less than you were. Let's say you've been tying a couple years and have a pretty decent collection of materials going. Chance are, there are a lot of new patterns you can tie without buying another material because you have what you need. And at that point, some new flies just need one or two new materials to tie. So you spend four or five bucks on new stuff and tie your new fish slayers, which might open the door to even more flies with the stuff you just bought. Not too bad. Of course you spent a lot getting to that point, but it's nice when you're there. And if times get tough, at least you have enough stuff to tie flies for years and can keep fishing:D
    mwdehaan likes this.
  15. Like others have said, i you think your saving money tying flies, your not. The several thousand dollar material inventory sitting behind me can attest to that. Although that's not why I tie, I've always loved flies of all kinds and I genuinely enjoy tying and I especially like how tying your own flies gives you the freedom to modify and design your own patterns to suit your needs. Also the convenience is nice. Rather then having to go to a shop and buy more flies if I run out of a pattern, I can just tie more to restock my inventory.
  16. I have tied for a lot of years and spent way more on materials than what I could have purchased the flies for. I made the mistake of reading "how to tie" books and if they called out possum, I bought it, and if they called out other exotic materials I went out and bought them. I have a desk full of materials that I only used for one pattern. My suggestion is take a class from somone and learn to use a few basic materials to tie a lot of patterns I only fish and tie dries now and rarely tie anything over #18 so my materials are limited. I tie for my pleasure and I also give a lot of flies away. I am one of those guys that if I am fishing and doing well and someone isn't and asks what am I using I will tell them and also give them some flies if I have a lot with me. For me there nothing better than catching fish on a fly I have tied !!! Another note: There is group of retired guys that tie flies at the Kent Senior Center every Tuesday from 9:30 -11:00. Everyone is welcome . We have extra materials. Just bring your vice and your lies !!!!!!!!!
    mwdehaan likes this.
  17. abandon all hope ye who enter here
    Mark Mercer likes this.
  18. Of course you can save money by tying flies- its just that virtually no one has the will power. In an example cited:
    50 olive wooly buggers. 2 25 pack of hooks (Tiemcos at that) 12.00+1 olive saddle patch 15.00+1 spool of 6/0 uni-thread 2.00+ 1 card of chenille 3.00 + 1 hank of krystal flash 5.00+ 1 pack of olive marabou 5.00 + 1 Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails 3.00=$45. You will still have thread, Hackle, HANs, Marabou, most of the krystal flash and a little chenille left. The second 50 would cost about $15.00. 50 Wooly buggers @$ retail1.75=$87.5. Some flies are much cheaper to tie than wooly buggers. Gold ribbed hares ears nymphs, marabou leaches, bunny leaches, chiromids, most small nymphs are all very economical to tie. So, other than tools and a vise you could be saving cash on the very first batch. Some flies are also more expensive to tie.

    Someone with sufficient discipline could definitely save money tying flies, but you probably won't.
  19. Thanks guys. I think I'll start out with chironomids. I priced them out to be roughly .70c per, vs 2 bucks at the store. I'm interested in saving money of course, but I'm more interested in testing the waters. It's sad to hear that it can be a money pit, but it sounds like that's only an investment in the pleasure it can bring. I have several fly boxes that need filling out and I have the free time to learn. I suppose some other common patterns to learn would be woolly buggers and then some nymphs like pheasant tails and hare's ears?
  20. Jack Dennis, one of fly fishing's gurus, in a video for beginning fly tiers looks at the camera and says, "You can buy em cheaper than you can tie em'. I've known a lot of tiers and everyone of us would agree that that is true.

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