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Selling Flies

fly tying bass flies bluegill fies trout flies

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58 replies to this topic

#46 Mark Knapp

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 05:37 PM

Hi Capt. Bob, I quite agree with you on every point. As I said to the O.P. earlier in this thread, it would be a poor decision to go into business tying flies for a living. As for the case of opening a fly shop, that would have to be on a case by case basis. The location, ties to the industry, your resources (ie, financially, your connections etc.) would all have to be considered.

 

The local fly shop (fly shop, is a misnomer it had to be a fly fishing shop) owner up here, a local legend really, deceased now, told me once that the money was not in the merchandise, it was in the fishing trip promotion and brokering. If he didn't arrange trips he wouldn't have made it. By arranging the trips, he also got to outfit the fisherman. I'm talking exotic destination trips for locals to exotic (to us) places like Florida for tarpon. Fly fishing for him was not a business opportunity it was his passion, his reason for living and the only thing he could do. After he died (he was here over thirty years), the fly shop went away and no one else even attempted one, it would have been foolish.

 

For me, the passion is custom knife making. Nobody should attempt to make a living making custom knives, it's silly, it's foolish. But, I have spent my life doing things that everyone else said I couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't do. I have made mistakes, and sacrifices but I am the happiest person I know, and have been the luckiest person I know.

 

Anyone with the passion to have a fly shop, or tie flies for a living will not listen to any of us telling him not to. He would do some research, do the math, find out it's going to be really hard and then do what ever it takes to make it happen. They will have to work hard every day for very long hours at first.

 

When I started my shop, the world didn't need a custom knife shop in Fairbanks but it did need a tool sharpening shop, I worked 12 hours a day in the shop everyday. Then worked a few more hours a day, every day, on the shop, fixing the roof, repairing equipment, making fixtures etc. I worked even on Christmas day for five years when I was getting started. It affected my health. I quit hunting, fishing and trapping for the first seven or eight years I was in business. When I got most of my machinery paid for I was able to start doing those things again. We still have struggles, things change, you have to adapt. Find out what's wrong and find a way to fix it. Business is like that.

 

Living a dream isn't easy, that's why they call it a dream. There's no security in living a dream, if you want security (not you Bob, you're living your dream) don't chase a dream.

 

Check with me in five years, we'll see if my story has changed.



#47 DarrellP

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 10:55 AM

Most dreams seem foolish. You spend your day doing something, even if it's chasing women and drinking. I am convinced that some people can make money regardless of what they go into, while others can inherit a fortune and go broke. I think business acumen is usually more important than your chosen job or business. Another very necessary thing for success is having a spouse that "gets it."
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#48 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 04:44 PM

Living your dream? If my experience is anything to go by... be careful what you wish for.
Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#49 CasualAngler

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 07:18 PM

David (OP),

What about taking some samples of your work to your local Fly Shop, and see if they would be willing to sell them? You'll be giving them to the shop; they're samples, after all. Have them set the Price, put them on display & see what happens. If they sell, you'll have a good indicator of both your quality level & popularity (pattern). If not, you get valuable feedback & critique, with not so much $$ out of your pocket for the Research. Gotta see if there's a market for your work.

You also mentioned cheap materials like wire, feathers, etc. There are great vids on YT about where to find that stuff, like from old radios or other appliances (wire), or your hunter friends for feathers.

Keep tying, work on your consistency & methodology. The more efficient you are, the faster things go.

Good Luck!

Alan :o

#50 knoiseux

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 04:36 AM

I have been trying for over 30 years. In the early years I tried standard patterns for a local shop that subsidized my tying addiction. I started selling again in the last few years via an auction site. But here's the thing. The flies I sell came about from demand. I fished insane hours for a few years. Every day off and every weekend averaging about 1000 hours on the water per year. I met heaps of guides and developed my own patterns that are highly successful. I often would have 100 fish days and people would corner me on a river and ask for tips. I usually gave them flies to try. People started asking for them. The patterns I tie can't be bought in any store. At the same time I started a blog to document my trips. Customers seem to like reading it. I've slowed down a bit recently due to work and health but i still get people contacting me for flies. It helps that I've fished the rivers they do countless times and can give them advice of what flies to use on what run. I guess my point is if you aren't going to do it wholesale you need a point if difference. I don't make money at it. It helps to subsidize my addiction and it's just plain fun.

#51 Poopdeck

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 09:25 AM

hmmmmm, seems David has followed his dream and has been busy tying himself into poverty or he got a real job where he is busy earning a living. I hope it's the latter.

#52 Hardyrod1974

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 12:14 PM

David,

 

I was in your place many years ago, around 1974. I had been tying for myself and friends for about 4 years. I tied for some local shops and for Eric Lieser at the Fly Fisherman's Bookcase in NY state.

I did OK, made enough money to have Walton Powell make me a custom bamboo rod and buy some Hardy reels.

 

I sort of enjoyed the whole process, did it for about 3 years but not full time. I wouldn't do it again though. You get an order for 12 dozen dry flies WITH a deadline and all of a sudden your "fun" pass-time isn't as much fun as it was doing new patterns for yourself or maybe a dozen here and a half dozen there for some friends.

 

Tying commercially comes at a cost though. You now have a deadline. You will possibly be asked to tie flies that you have a hard time with initially. You can't say "no" the shop owner too often before the calls stop. Are you in school? Do you have another job?

 

As an experiment, sit down at your tying bench/ table and tie 3 dozen of one fly, one size of your choosing with just a couple of rest breaks. Time yourself for each dozen. Then put your flies in a big group and see if they are ALL the same.

 

Buy a few flies from a couple of the bigger shops, use them as your model. Sit down and tie a dozen of each, do they EACH look the same as the model? How long does it take you? How many per hour? Do the math. What's your time worth?

 

You will get faster as time passes and that will help. Give it a try. Please try what I have mentioned though.

 

Regards,

Richard



#53 DFoster

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 01:20 PM

Remember this net gem?  I think anyone who has ever worked in a fly shop has heard this statement a time or two.

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And you thought golf was frustrating-


#54 wr1nkles

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 08:12 AM

Remember this net gem?  I think anyone who has ever worked in a fly shop has heard this statement a time or two.

 

Truer words have never been spoken. (or should i said meme'd)

 

I imagine it's only cheaper if you tie the same couple of patterns in a limited amount of colors and sizes. But where is the fun in that?


My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too.


#55 vicente

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 12:27 PM

I think it depends on what style and size flys you're using too, I mostly fish for largemouth so lots of good sized streamers and deer hair bugs at the shop those are 4-10$ maybe more.

#56 jdowney

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 07:49 PM

hmmmmm, seems David has followed his dream and has been busy tying himself into poverty or he got a real job where he is busy earning a living. I hope it's the latter.

 

I hope he's around still, reading this thread.  Even the negative feedback here is good to read.  Maybe that's the perspective that comes from being 48 rather than 19.

 

I've tried a lot of different things to make a living, sometimes following the play it safe and earn lots advice, and sometimes following the go with what you love to do advice.  There is a grain of truth in all of it, and dammit if that grass isn't still greener over there (I'm currently in one of the play it safe jobs, mostly hating it).

 

I can also well believe that a younger guy could go from beginner to intermediate, almost expert in a few months.  I took a long break from tying a couple times, being far from fishing holes most of the time out here in the desert, and each time it was harder to relearn the skill.  The last time it was like being an 8 year old novice all over again!  But then I no longer have young eyes and young coordination, and I tend to be having a beer while tying, just making matters worse!

 

I have learned that to sell anything you make, the best bet is to find a niche (or bumble into one).  Don't compete with those kids in Asia, you can't.  Find the demand that they can't fill.  Vastly easier said than done, but try stuff and don't take it too hard if it doesn't work out.  Some of the best lessons in life are the failures, though they are not remotely satisfying they are useful knowledge.  Eventually, something you try will pan out.  Other than that collection of tired old chestnuts, I have no advice for selling flies - last time I sold them I couldn't drive yet and the pinnacle of "investment" was a $30 Thompson vise - had to borrow that kind of money from dad back then, but he was a good sport.  I still have that vise too, nostalgic old fart that I am.



#57 DarrellP

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 07:50 AM

I agree with the niche idea. Tie something they can't get elsewhere. It also needs to be desirable, obviously. Big streamers, wet flies, deer hair poppers. Something high end. Just ask yourself why they should buy your flies. But remember, you may have to tie a gross of flies you hste.
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#58 Fishlove73

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:52 AM

First of all, let me tell you that form 720 does not apply to tying flies. Secondly, if you tie good...bait shops and friends don’t leave you alone. And finally, there are SO many deductions....everything from materials, shipping, lunch, fuel, vehicles and even networking while fishing is a deduction. You have to actually show a profit in order to pay anything in....

#59 flytire

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 09:30 AM

Are you a commercial tyer?

Most fishermen use the double haul to throw their casting mistakes further - Lefty Kreh






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