Stupid Question(s) From A Prospective Fly Tyer

Is fly tying difficult? I know that's probably a really silly question but from an outsider looking in, I'm wondering about the learning curve and how much time (and wasted supplies) I would need to devote to the art before I could consider myself proficient. I am willing to dedicate time, just curious how long I would need to be at it before I could tie anything the fish wouldn't laugh at.

Also, Is this an expensive hobby? Right now, I buy my flies from shops. I have a feeling tieing your own saves money in the long run but I'm not sure about initial startup costs, could anyone shed some light on this please? Thank you!

Sorry for the silly questions, just a noobie trying to soak up as much as I can.


^ me and Bridger
tying flies is fun, lots of fun for me. I have more tying supplies than I can possible use so I give stuff to new folks who are learning. You will not save money, but you will have a heck of a good time catching fish on flies that you have tied. If you decide to tie let me know. I think I have a good basic book I'd send to you. My fly boxes are full of hundreds of flies and I love it.

Chad Lewis

NEVER wonder what to do with your free time
I'd say tying flies is like learning to cast. It's not too hard to make a fly that'll catch fish, and you'll do that rather quickly assuming someone's teaching you. Simple flies that you start on will be easy to tie well. As for hard, well, complicated flies are hard. There's a reason why most people's first fly is a Wooley Bugger. So, time and patience will be required for the learning curve. If you do it several times a week you'll be able to tie a bunch of stuff in three to four months, and fishable flies right away.

As Big E implied, saving money in the long run tying your own flies is not gonna happen. Not only the initial investment, but the continual purchase of hooks and material makes it something you do because you like it. You'll end up going to the shop and blowing thirty or forty bucks gearing up to tie one pattern (in a bunch of different sizes and colors). Eventually you'll end up with enough materials on hand to tie most stuff, but you'll spend a bundle getting there.

It's pretty cool fishing with your own flies. I enjoy tying a lot, and nowadays if I didn't tie I wouldn't enjoy flyfishing as much. I like sitting at the desk and researching flies for species of fish or hatches, finding patterns and tying them. Makes me anxious to get out and try them. Right now I'm working on Clouser Minnows for smallmouth.


Active Member
Jack Dennis, one of the fly fishing gurus, on a fly tying video, looks right at the camera and says, "you can buy them cheaper than you can tie them". He did not lie. You can buy them a LOT cheaper!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
You can buy flies cheaper, and they are cheaper because in some cases they use inexpensive materials. When you tie them you can get the excact thing you want. You wont save money, but you might find a greater satisfaction in catching a fish on the fly you tied, cast on the rod you built...oh yeah, consider building a rod too!
fly tying can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.

fly tying materials can also be as inexpensive or as expensive as you want to make it ($90 chicken necks are not cheap!)

fly tying lessons make the learning curve a whole lot easier


Active Member
I *thought* I fished a lot and *thought* I took it pretty seriously but when I started tying my own flies I really went off of the deep end with fly fishing. There is a great feeling when you catch fish on your own fly (or your own rod). It is also a great feeling when some bug is coming off and the fish are eating them, and you can go back to camp and whip up something that works. It also made me really pay attention to life cycles and such. I used to go to a shop, ask them what was working, and buy a few of those. Now when I sit down at the bench I need to think about colors, size, etc. and I usually tie nymphs, emergers, adults and whatever else stage. For me at least it made me more observant of what was happening on the river because I want to go back and tie flies that will work. There are some very good books out there that give step by step on some basic patterns. I like the David Hughes books, but Craven's are also very good. Enjoy!
all great advice so far. If you take it up, start small and simple. Don't jump in to difficult flies right at the start.
Use thread wraps sparingly. I think the one thing most beginners do it try to tie down materials with 20 wraps. 2 or 3 tight wraps is usually enough to hold any material. If in doubt, use the 5/3 technique. 5 on to hold, then 3 off to tie in the next material at the same point, leaving two to hold the previous material. Make sense?

Also watch videos online. Check Davie McPhail on youtube and tighline productions on Vimeo - great flies (simple to difficult). Take in a lesson at your local fly shop, or ask for a demonstration.

Fish dont care about neat and shiny lacquered heads...they care about general profile of the fly in the water. If youre first fly has a similar profile to what fish are eating, they will take it...You can certainly catch fish on the very first fly you tie!
Wow thanks for the advice guys! Any recommendations for where to start in terms of kits, or is it better to buy your equipment separately? Thanks again for all the great advice on here!


Active Member
Wow thanks for the advice guys! Any recommendations for where to start in terms of kits, or is it better to buy your equipment separately? Thanks again for all the great advice on here!
I started by taking a lesson at a fly shop. A kit and a vise were part of the fee and the kit included all materials needed to tie the 10 or so patterns we covered. It really helped by showing some basic tricks and techniques. After that I just bought books and watched videos whenever I had a question.

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