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Selling Flies

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56 replies to this topic

#16 Tom Cummings

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 01:40 PM

I do sell some but to select people. 1 is for trophy swordfish competitions and other is for browns in Pennsylvania. The first is cakewalk second is when entomology comes in and knowledge of area. Current order on 2nd is for 5 flies @10 per and thats per person going on the trip. In short the hook supply is main issue materials go far and cost less in product.

Just starting out I suggest giving a few out for review before so you get a great base and build a name for you. Me I did that now my flies are across the USA and many rest in shadow boxes. Never take shortcuts and always go for quality. It makes your name.

#17 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 03:11 PM

For me the DIY route was everything (I also build my own rods, repair my own reels, rig my own skiffs...).  When I wound up in Miami way back when (fresh out of the service and back from a very bad place on the other side of the world...) I had no connections, no family there at all, and was supposedly there just to complete my schooling ( I dodged the draft by volunteering in the summer of 1967 - but only took the oath in early 1968...).  Having every afternoon and evening free I was on my own - and never having fished in saltwater I found my way out to a local fishing pier that was just on fire... After being called "tourist:" and other names.. I actually caught a fish or two and I was well on my way... These young guys were fishing 40 hours a week - in their spare time...  All of them had great custom rods so I asked around to find out the who the how, and just what shop I needed to visit... I found out that most of them were making their own rods (since what they wanted to use just wasn't being sold in any stores - and none of them had two nickels to rub together...).  One of those guys was nice enough to invite me over to his place and actually show me how you went about building your own rods... There was a local store that sold nothing but the components for building your own fishing rods -all in fiberglass - this was a few years before graphite (now called carbon fiber - so you can be charged more...).  The name of the store was J. Lee Cuddy Associates and that's where I met Lefty Kreh one day (he was the outdoor writer for the Miami Herald back then...).  The young guy that introduced us.. was John Emery (who later was one of the best guides ever out of Flamingo - and also designed and had built the Emery fly reel - if you can find one these days you might  need $2000 for one in good condition...

 

Years later in 1979 I had taken up fly fishing and was beginning to tie a few flies for friends when a fishing club member pointed me towards John Donnell who was operating Shorelines South in Ft. Lauderdale - an Orvis shop.  He gave me a small order and I was then pointed down the road to commercial tying.  For me, in a very hard, unforgiving job that never provided any tangible rewards (other than a paycheck and an opportunity to learn more about the rough side of life than I ever wanted to...) tying flies each evening not only brought in a bit of extra income - but also produced something tangible - that I could be proud of... I considered it sanity maintenance...

 

Over the years, occasionally tying for three different shops at a time I began to improve quite a bit until I was asked to provide a few samples of my work to Umpqua... and I've been with them ever since.  Just a few years ago though I finally hit the wall and quit tying commercially.  I still make bucktail jigs (they're much quicker to tie and don't require the concentration that the fly patterns do...) but will most likely never fill orders again... I'd rather put my feet up and read a book... I still do tie for my anglers though since I know exactly what they need to be successful in the backcountry of the Everglades.... 


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#18 Flicted

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 03:31 PM

I was in your shoes about 25 years ago. At the time, I had tied for about 10 years, loved it and got pretty good at it. I built an AOL webpage when they were the thing and they were free and started selling a few. I advertised politely in chat rooms and kept up with it pretty well. But I didn't get rich. I researched legalities of shipping flies to different states and to Canada and got overwhelmed with the right way to do it. I stopped doing that for a while and then found a local tackle store that bought flies through Umpqua. He had to buy large quantities and it wasn't a money maker for him. But as we talked, he realized that I could make smaller quantities of more patterns and specific sizes. He could make more profit and I could make a few bucks. I tied for him for a couple years. At times, it was more time than I wanted to spend since I had a family and a full-time job. As others have said, the hobby I loved became a job I dreaded. The tackle shop closed because Scheels, Cabelas, and Bass Pro moved in and he couldn't keep the customers. I didn't tie anything for a few months. Then I started again and found that tying batches for Project Healing Waters, giving them to kids or to family and friends or people I meet on the water is more my speed. If you go into it, best of luck to you. Just don't quit your day job.

#19 notenuftoys

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 04:08 PM

I've had a half-dozen or more flies listed on Etsy, and haven't sold a single one.  I tie for fun and had a bunch extra sitting around, so thought I'd throw 'em up on Etsy to see if I could get a little extra spending money.  Yea, that didn't work.

 

A couple guys I know who tie for a living have developed their own flies, marketed them locally, and then when word got out saw demand start to grow.  Oh, and they aren't little trout flies that can be tied overseas for a quarter a piece.  They are bass and saltwater flies.  

 

Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane has tried to tie flies to sell at some point or another.  It ain't easy.  And if you enjoy it as a hobby, the worst thing you could do is turn it into a job.  There's no way in h*** I could sit down long enough to churn out 20 dozen nymphs.  Shoot me first.



#20 Mark Knapp

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 07:41 PM

I tie flies for sale. I sell them for between $3.75 and $15.00 each depending on how big and pretty they are. I have a special circumstance though. Because I was on TV ( I was on a show called "Forged In Fire") some people think I'm a big deal. People come in from all over the place to take a picture with me and get a tour of our shop. I'm really not that big of a deal though, you can just ask my wife smile.png smile.png . We also own an art gallery and I sell them as art not necessarily for fishing with. I'm not suffering under the misconception that my flies more special than any I've seen on this site but people like them.

 

I would never consider production tying for wholesale, but if I did, I think I would set up six vises on a Lazy Susan type thing (that locks in place) so that when I had a particular material or tool in my hand I could do six flies with it at a time instead of just one before I had to put that material or tool down and pick up something else.

 

One more thing, because I sell a few flies in our store, I'm able to write off all my fly tying stuff as a business expense, and my fishing as product research. Now here's the disclaimer, I'm not an accountant or a lawyer but I have an accountant and a lawyer that advise me. Before you do what I do, consult yours.



#21 Mark Knapp

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 07:49 PM

For me the DIY route was everything (I also build my own rods, repair my own reels, rig my own skiffs...).  When I wound up in Miami way back when (fresh out of the service and back from a very bad place on the other side of the world...) I had no connections, no family there at all, and was supposedly there just to complete my schooling ( I dodged the draft by volunteering in the summer of 1967 - but only took the oath in early 1968...).  Having every afternoon and evening free I was on my own - and never having fished in saltwater I found my way out to a local fishing pier that was just on fire... After being called "tourist:" and other names.. I actually caught a fish or two and I was well on my way... These young guys were fishing 40 hours a week - in their spare time...  All of them had great custom rods so I asked around to find out the who the how, and just what shop I needed to visit... I found out that most of them were making their own rods (since what they wanted to use just wasn't being sold in any stores - and none of them had two nickels to rub together...).  One of those guys was nice enough to invite me over to his place and actually show me how you went about building your own rods... There was a local store that sold nothing but the components for building your own fishing rods -all in fiberglass - this was a few years before graphite (now called carbon fiber - so you can be charged more...).  The name of the store was J. Lee Cuddy Associates and that's where I met Lefty Kreh one day (he was the outdoor writer for the Miami Herald back then...).  The young guy that introduced us.. was John Emery (who later was one of the best guides ever out of Flamingo - and also designed and had built the Emery fly reel - if you can find one these days you might  need $2000 for one in good condition...

 

Years later in 1979 I had taken up fly fishing and was beginning to tie a few flies for friends when a fishing club member pointed me towards John Donnell who was operating Shorelines South in Ft. Lauderdale - an Orvis shop.  He gave me a small order and I was then pointed down the road to commercial tying.  For me, in a very hard, unforgiving job that never provided any tangible rewards (other than a paycheck and an opportunity to learn more about the rough side of life than I ever wanted to...) tying flies each evening not only brought in a bit of extra income - but also produced something tangible - that I could be proud of... I considered it sanity maintenance...

 

Over the years, occasionally tying for three different shops at a time I began to improve quite a bit until I was asked to provide a few samples of my work to Umpqua... and I've been with them ever since.  Just a few years ago though I finally hit the wall and quit tying commercially.  I still make bucktail jigs (they're much quicker to tie and don't require the concentration that the fly patterns do...) but will most likely never fill orders again... I'd rather put my feet up and read a book... I still do tie for my anglers though since I know exactly what they need to be successful in the backcountry of the Everglades.... 

 

Great story, thanks.



#22 Gene L

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 09:29 PM

I've been tying for decades and I've not advanced much above the "Intermediate'' level.  I wouldn't deign to tie a fly for sale, wouldn't even tie one to give.  I have friends who do, but I know my limitations.  I'm ham fisted.



#23 Poopdeck

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 11:55 PM

Mark, forged in Fire is one of the few shows I routinely watch. That's pretty cool you were on the show and I saw that you won! Great job. great job!

#24 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 08:17 AM

Production tying is a different animal for sure... The order I dreaded the most is someone who only wanted a few flies -in each pattern... that was a killer if you're trying to knock them out in volume.  With each pattern -here was my standard routine... First assemble all the materials needed -then dig out a "master pattern" if I had one available.... Now process the hooks (if needed - in some circumstances they needed to be sharpened in others the shank had to be bent..). Now do it step at a time - start the thread and tie in the eyes (beadchain, or lead) then toss that hook into a container and go to the next hook.  Eyes, tails, bodies, weedguards then the final run to finish whatever still needed to be done.  No trimming after a material is in place (everything cut to the exact dimensions needed - before tying in place..).  When the run was complete go back and lightly, with the tip end of a Krazy Glue tube, go over each head - then allow to dry.  At this point some patterns were complete and ready to sleeve - others might still need eyes painted on or a fancy rodcrafter's finish (Flexcoat) - then be allowed to dry in a rotating fixture for two hours...

 

I always tied one or two more than the order required - then lined them all up and made sure that I didn't ship any "weak sisters" -flies that weren't quite up to spec (those I kept for my own use...).  It helped a lot to have some interesting music playing - and always the clock - as I watched to see how many bugs per hour I was tying.... After all - you're actually selling your labor along with your skill - and if you're doing it for money - you soon learn to avoid patterns that are time consuming (unless someone's paying you a premium for that order.....

 

Good luck to anyone wanting to do it for money.  There is a lot of satisfaction in making something that not only looks good - but really works as well.  Try to avoid tying patterns for places and fish that you've never gone after yourself... since you won't be tying what's really needed for that area (another of those "ask me how I know" moments...).   And as already said elsewhere - don't quit your day job...


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#25 Mark Knapp

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 01:48 PM

Mark, forged in Fire is one of the few shows I routinely watch. That's pretty cool you were on the show and I saw that you won! Great job. great job!

 

Thanks bud



#26 Mark Knapp

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 06:23 PM

Mark, forged in Fire is one of the few shows I routinely watch. That's pretty cool you were on the show and I saw that you won! Great job. great job!

 

It was actually one of the most fun things I've ever done.



#27 Mark Knapp

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 07:06 PM

Production tying is a different animal for sure... The order I dreaded the most is someone who only wanted a few flies -in each pattern... that was a killer if you're trying to knock them out in volume.  With each pattern -here was my standard routine... First assemble all the materials needed -then dig out a "master pattern" if I had one available.... Now process the hooks (if needed - in some circumstances they needed to be sharpened in others the shank had to be bent..). Now do it step at a time - start the thread and tie in the eyes (beadchain, or lead) then toss that hook into a container and go to the next hook.  Eyes, tails, bodies, weedguards then the final run to finish whatever still needed to be done.  No trimming after a material is in place (everything cut to the exact dimensions needed - before tying in place..).  When the run was complete go back and lightly, with the tip end of a Krazy Glue tube, go over each head - then allow to dry.  At this point some patterns were complete and ready to sleeve - others might still need eyes painted on or a fancy rodcrafter's finish (Flexcoat) - then be allowed to dry in a rotating fixture for two hours...

 

I always tied one or two more than the order required - then lined them all up and made sure that I didn't ship any "weak sisters" -flies that weren't quite up to spec (those I kept for my own use...).  It helped a lot to have some interesting music playing - and always the clock - as I watched to see how many bugs per hour I was tying.... After all - you're actually selling your labor along with your skill - and if you're doing it for money - you soon learn to avoid patterns that are time consuming (unless someone's paying you a premium for that order.....

 

Good luck to anyone wanting to do it for money.  There is a lot of satisfaction in making something that not only looks good - but really works as well.  Try to avoid tying patterns for places and fish that you've never gone after yourself... since you won't be tying what's really needed for that area (another of those "ask me how I know" moments...).   And as already said elsewhere - don't quit your day job...

 

Lots of good insight. You certainly would need to streamline in one way or another. Doing one fly at a time just wouldn't do it.



#28 wr1nkles

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 01:35 PM

Yeah, I too had this dream of tying flies and selling them as a side gig. I forgot all about that dream once I realized how much time it took to produce one good looking fly, let alone dozens.

 

I am not trying to discourage, and you SHOULD still contact your local outdoors shop to see what comes of it. But just remember you can make a lot more money doing something less time consuming, and keep fly tying as a fun hobby.

 

Just for fun (and reference...)

I'd have to tie 4,400 flies with a .50 profit to make the same money I did building a website for a local company that took me 5 hrs.


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


#29 Poopdeck

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 02:08 PM

VERY INSIGHTFUL WRINKLES!!!!!!! But dont forget about the joy and happiness garnered by doing something that you love to do. Remember, you will never work a day in your life if you do what you love to do. 4400 flies is a lot of love.

#30 wr1nkles

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 02:36 PM

VERY INSIGHTFUL WRINKLES!!!!!!! But dont forget about the joy and happiness garnered by doing something that you love to do. Remember, you will never work a day in your life if you do what you love to do. 4400 flies is a lot of love.

 

I don't think you should stop yourself from achieving bigger goals because you have this romantic view of what work should be. Study hard, challenge yourself. Be smart with your money and retire early, then tie and fly all you want, wherever you want.

 

But that's just my over-analytical opinion...


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






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