Thoughts on getting into fly tying...

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 !!!!!!!!!
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.
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?


Active Member
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.
If you have more time than money, trust me you can tie them cheaper. I tied them commercially for a while, to make money to buy fly gear. But the big benefit is the enjoyment you get out of it and if you want a chironomid with a red rib, tied out of a static bag, with ostrich gills, you can make one. I wouldn't enjoy the sport as much if I had to find places to buy the flies I want, they aren't made anywhere!


Active Member
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.
yup. can't look at it from the $$$$ side. But watching a big ol trout come up on a perfectly presented and tied by your own hand Cahill floating down the zone is unforgettable
I tie flies for several reasons and saving money is not one of them.

First of all, by tying flies, I learn more about the food trout eat. I believe it makes me a better fly fisher.

The flies I tie are better than the ones I buy but I have had 30 years of fly tying. In the beginning the flies you tie will be worse than the ones you buy.

I can judge whether a new fly is likely to be a fish catcher or a fisherman catcher. If it looks good, I will buy one and if it catches fish, I can tie up a dozen.

Have you ever noticed that some fly slots in the shop are empty. They happen to be the hot flies for the current hatch. I am never short of flies because the shop happens to be out of them. This is one of the major reasons I got into fly tying. I could never buy the flies I needed when I needed them.

You bring a fly from home on a trip and it happens to work in Montana. You run out of flies and no shop in the local area sells that fly. This happened to me and now I tie those flies with my portable tying kit.

I have some flies that I use every year in Montana that are not sold in any of the fly shops. In fact they are not sold anywhere because my friend and I came up with them. They are our number one fly and the only way to get them is to tie them.

I've traded flies with other fly fishers. Some of the fly fishers are from overseas and you cannot get the flies in the USA. They worked and so I tied some up on the trip.

When I find a new pattern in a fly tying or fly fishing magazine, I can tie it up and give it a try. Some are duds but others have become go to flies, and I would never have tried them unless I had tied flies.

Tying flies is a way to share your sport with other fly fishers. It is a great way to extend the sport into the winter months.

One of the ways to share a sport is to join a fly swap. I enjoy getting flies from other tiers. Some are better than others but it is a way try some flies you never would have tried. I participated in the first international internet fly swap on the [email protected] mailing list where Han Weilenmann published his now famous CDC and Elk.

I donate flies to my local TU chapter and donate a box of 100 flies to my state TU council banquet each year.

Trout fishing is all about learning something new every year. This year I took up acrylic flies and woven flies. I've got a list of new flies I want to try over this winter.

Woven stone fly I learned to tie

Acrylic flies


Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Put it this way . . . tying becomes a passion and is the "yang" to the "ying" of fly-fishing. I haven't purchased a fly for over 55-years. As cited above, saving money isn't the driver, altho I made money when I tied commercially as a kid, but that DID cut into fishing time on occasion (or hunting time, since I tied feverishly all winter.). Tying is a natural progression . . . and there is no greater satisfaction than realizing "if you tie it, they will come."


Active Member
My dad decided I was going to take up fly tying (over 50 years ago, when I was about 10 years old) to save money on all the store-bought flies we lost or wore out. Of course, I was fortunate that I soon learned that I truly enjoyed the challenge and process of creating something that fooled the wily trout...because I'm absolutely certain it would have been far cheaper to purchase than tie. Tying flies ain't about saving money...and I suspect if that's the primary motivation, the attempt won't be long sustained.

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I tie because there's always some pattern variation that you want/need for fishing. Another good reason is the lack of good fly shops between Omak and Moses Lake. Darth has one in Ephrata and from there I can only think of the displays in the local gas marts.

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