Someone decides to coordinate a fly swap and solicits participants. Once the number of participants is fixed, each person ties a number of flies equivalent to the number of individuals in the swap. Prior to the deadline imposed by the coordinator, all participants send their flies in. The coordinator divides them, and sends everyone in the swap one fly from each participant.
It's customary to tag your fly with the name, your name, the recipe, and any other information considered relevant. Also customary to include sufficient return postage, and an extra fly or two for the coordinator.
Calvin, I've been "Meistering" or coordinating several of the beginners swaps here. Because I have about 40 years tying experience I don't meet the qualifications as a tier, so I don't tie for those swaps. (Except for the bonus flies I tie up for all the participants>)
When I coordinate a more advanced swap, yes, I do tie for those. It's customary, but not required.
How "beginner" can you be to get into a beginner swap? I think I would like to get in on a swap, but I'm afraid that it wouldn't be a fair swap for whoever ended up with mine as I am very much the neophyte. The only two that I tie that are fair (at best) are cone-head wooly buggers and epoxy headed surf candy.
I've run swaps that had tyers with only a couple months tying experience. Part of the reason for joining beginners swaps is to improve your tying skills. Nothing helps you out like sitting down and tying a dozen or so of the same fly, over and over. You'll notice a difference between the first and the last for sure. The other good reason for swapping flies is to see how other people do things. Some one may have a great idea for soing something that you haven't thought of.
Keep your eye open for some more beginners swaps through the winter, Right now I'm running the marathon beginner/intermediate swap, but may have time to run a specialty swap or two.