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Flies: To buy or to tie?

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5 replies to this topic

#1 tctrout


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Posted 07 December 2018 - 06:53 AM

Who better to ask this question to than fly tiers! For the majority of flies, I tie myself, but in the video I share one of the few patterns I purchase. Do you buy, and if so, what are you reasons?




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#2 mikechell


    Cold weather afficando- Give me Snow or give me death!

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 07:24 AM

I don't buy flies at all, anymore.  I lose way too many.  I can tie the flies I fish for pennies a piece ... so I feel no "regret" when I have to snap one off on a submerged branch, etc.

If I paid 2 or 3 buck each, I'd be going after every one, and fishing them until they were worn/busted down to a bare hook.


Yes, I save a lot of money tying vs. buying.

Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
Ex-Marine ... quondam fidelis

#3 rockworm


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Posted 07 December 2018 - 07:38 AM

I tye flies for the same reason I make ravioli from scratch- I enjoy making good things well! I buy very few flies- which I use as examples/models for my own tying. 

I think Mike is an anomaly! I think most of us invest considerably more in this hobby/craft/art than if we used store-bought flies. 

#4 tjm


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Posted 07 December 2018 - 08:25 AM

I buy a few flies each year for a few reasons, mainly to support the local guy that stocks materials (and the guys&gals that tie for him); but also to check out patterns that I might not have the exotic/synthetic/unusual materials to tie prior to buying more stuff that will go unused (many flies are better to look at than to fish); and I sometimes buy reference flies to use when I do tie a pattern that I'm not familiar with, no better picture to copy than the actual fly for three dimensional proportions and color. .


I can, as Mike said, tie the flies I use most for pennies and save much money on the ones left in the water, because I have all the materials needed; but to tie one or two test flies of a pattern that it turns out I don't like to fish or to tie and requires purchasing new materials doesn't work that way- two examples early in my tying experience and about the same time are the Cardinelle fly which sold as a complete kit at the time and the Swannundaze  key-bob lace stuff in several colors that after some years got thrown away. At the time both were hyped to be the greatest thing in fly fishing, yet neither ever caught a fish for me nor anyone I met on the water. Maybe I didn't fish them right or they didn't imitate food in the water I used them in (although the Cardinelle was invented about 50 miles away) but I took it as a learning opportunity and learned to try new patterns before investing my wages in packrat materials. I still have a patch of Australian possum from 40? years ago and can't recall what for and I think 4-5 kinds of synthetic hair substitutes that I  should throw out.

#5 CasualAngler


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Posted 07 December 2018 - 01:25 PM

The flies that I tie & fish with (reverse hackle tenkara flies, Killer Bugs) aren't readily available in shops here. They take minimal Materials and are easy to tie, so it's both economical and a fun activity. Add the excitement of catching a fish with a self made fly instead of a store bought one, & it's a win all around.

Alan :P

#6 dadofmolly


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Posted 07 December 2018 - 09:22 PM

I think most of us invest considerably more in this hobby/craft/art than if we used store-bought flies. 

I can't remember the last time I bought a fly.  Probably back in my early teen years.  I probably would be far ahead money wise if I bought instead of tying as I have quite a large amount of tools and materials but I do it for me and myself.  I enjoy it and because I can do it.  As mentioned, Tenkara style flies are a little difficult to buy except through Tenkara USA or ebay and are so simple that several can be tied in less time to order or to drive to Boulder.  Kind of like "How many rods do I really need or how many reels" (as many as I can get).