Tying Flies: Tying to save $, or as a practiced hobby?

Hello, was wondering if any of you ty flies to save money or as a regular hobby? I would say if I was to start today, I would think I would ty to save money. How much money does it REALLY save you if you stopped buying and started tying? The reason I say this is because I basically lose 5-6 flies a week getting snagged on bottom,rocks,hidden logs,BIG fish,etc. Can you say I can save nearly 50% of my money tying my own? Is paying the extra 50% worth my time? What are your guys experiences? Would really appreciate it!

Thanks! Peter

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
Matthew 4:19


Active Member
I've been tying as a hobby, and commercially as well for over 20 years. I think that for 90% of the tiers out there, you really only save money if you tie saltwater and bass patterns, and not clousers either, but those $5 and up babies. Eventually, you may become one of those rare individuals who understands that you can approximate a pattern with the materials you have on hand, and that colors doesn't really matter so much. If that happens you can save money on trout patterns too. If you don't get over the "Oh no, the pattern calls for ginger Z-lon, and I only have rust! I have to go buy some!" it is strictly a hobby, not a money saving tool. A wonderful hobby that can keep you inspired until your eyes and your hands can no longer do their little tricks. Tie... You'll love it.
I think it is a combo of a hobby and trying to save money at the same time. I know some of the flies I tie are pretty much just thread and a hook, or are simple patterns with relatively inexpensive materials. Therefor tying these patterns myself really does save me some dough. I also enjoy tying flies, although not quite as much as I enjoy fishing them :LOVEIT ,
Just my 2 cents

I think tying flies is both a hobby and money saving technique. The best advantage of tying your own flies is the ability to make variations of popular patterns or break out with your own pattern. The key to producing quality patterns is to use quality materials and a quality tools.
Funny, I met this guy a week ago and he said he uses flies he tied to catch Steelhead, he says he catches Steelhead on his particular pattern ALL THE TIME. He showed me the fly; (I was expecting some fancy-schmancy-General-Practictionor-Royal-Hilton looking thing)... "It was a #2 hook with 20 strands of tan elk hair superglued with brown thread!!!" He landed 2 within the next 30 minutes!!??? Hummm, the next 4 hrs I snagged and lost 6 store bought rubberlegged stone fly nymphs at 1.85 a pop!
Maybe I will start tying my own...

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
Matthew 4:19

Old Man

Just an Old Man
What do I know---I'm just an old man

I tie just because it's fun and frustrating(sp) at the same time.The best thing about tying flies is when you catch fish with them. The frustreating(sp) bit is when you have the shakes and you try to do something small. Anything with to many feathers I buy and anything with just a few materials I can usually put on a hook. Besides what else can you do in between seasons.Or days when the rivers are blown out.

Tying flies is a hobby within a hobby. Fly tying enhances the total experience of flyfishing. To say one ties to save money is laughable...too many flies with too many materials to make it a cost effective endeavor unless one sticks to only a few select patterns.

I have been tying for about 20 years. Have I saved money? Probably not. However, what is the value of tying a bug lakeside or in camp in Montana? If you enjoy flyfishing then do take up tying.


Active Member
What you described says it all. "...rubberlegged stone fly nymphs at 1.85 a pop! " I tied up three of these for my first time on the Yak and caught my first Yak 'bow on one of them. Subsequently, I lost all of them in the following hours, getting blanked except for that first and only nice one. Had I purchased those flies, I would have been more bummed than elated that my first shot at tying rubber legs paid off. Saved money? I think so. Had a good time despite my lost flies? Definitely!

By the way, if you have the Cabela's Fly fishing catalog, you will see that getting reasonably functionable tools isn't that expensive. Just be sure you get a rotary vise as your first purchase, instead of getting the "el-cheapo" just to save money.


Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan
Well, right now I have more time than money. So I tie to save money. At times I have more money than time and that is when I buy flies. I enjoy it though, immensely. Imagine you catching your next Steelhead on a fly that YOU tied. It's a pretty cool feeling; catching a fish on a fly you tied. Better yet, on a fly that you made up.

And yes, materials are spendy. I guess I lucked out when I hit some random garage sale in Eastern Utah a few months ago and walked away with a big Fenwick tackle box full of over (well over) $200 in tying materials and equiptment (3 sweet vices) all for $20. So yes, I am saving money. Besides, what more do you need than a box full of 5 inch black bunny leaches anyway?

I have been assembling my tying kit over the last two months. If I were to stop buying material now and tie up 250 flies, I might break even. But that is not realistic. It is merely the thing I do to hold me over until I can get back on the water. And I still buy flies when I don’t have the time to tie them and I’m going to be fishing the next morning.

Fly tying is a gift that was passed on to me by my dad. I still remember those first Carey specials, six packs and renegades I tied. It will be the gift I pass on to my kids. A money saver? I don’t think so. More like a memory saver.

i would also say it depends on what you are tying. i mean to pay 2 bucks for a san juan worm or a sparkle dun seems crazy when you can tye a seasons worth in an hour. i try to tie all my easy patterns myself ( pheasant tails, sparkle duns, x-caddis, beetles, etc.) and buy the more complicated and time consuming patterns ( hoppers, stimulators, etc.) you will find that is a really cool feeling to catch a fish on a fly you tyed yourself. then again if you don't like it don't do it. life's too short to spend your free time doing something you hate.

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