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Futzer

Craft store savings vs fly shop quality

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Hi All, a recent post from YeoldKiller made me think to post this set of thoughts to consider. I know that one of the greatest motivators of the common flyfisher to become the fly tyer is to save big money! The I can get the hooks cheap, and if I buy a big ole bag of feathers at the craft store I can make flies for pennies, not the 2 to 3 dollars per at the fly shop. I just wanted to include a few thoughts to consider before you drop that dollar for a 6 ounce bag of green marabou at the mega craft mart.

 

Craft store feathers are typically harshly dyed, so they have very stiff and easily broken shafts and barbules. Marabou will have more clots and clumps in the feathers and will easily break up when fished.

 

Because of the harsher dyes, the feathers will not act as well in the water and will have more pungent chemical smell to them. That may mean less fish hooked.

 

Most higher quality material is sold to the fly shop folks first, and handled far better vs the slaughter yard stuff sold to distributors to craft stores.

 

In any event, if you buy the big ole bag cheap, consider less useable feathers, less durability, and the possibilty of less fish.

 

Now, I do not totally discourage craft store material purchase, just take the time to learn what a really high quality feather will do for your tying and know the difference and how to select the quality you want.

 

I remember helping, I think Tntom with an adams, and sending a few really good hackles to try, the result was much better, and will last longer.

 

Let me know what you think, Cheers, Futzer.

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I have to agree with you there futzer. When I first started tying I used a lot of craft store stuff and later started using fly tying materials from the fly shops and my flies tie better and look better.

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Futzer I completely agree... when it comes to feathers. I have picked up a number of craft store feathers and even with my limited tying experience I could quickly discern major differences in the quality. However, when it comes to synthetics, ie foam, some yarn, mohair, chenille and especially storage I find that the same thing in a fly shop costs 2-6 times as much. I support one local Denver fly shop pretty religiously, I think he should have at least a couple semesters of his oldest's college education paid for from my account, but I also think it is crazy to buy 2 small pieces of foam for the same cost as the jumbo economy 25 color pack. Now dry fly hackle... that is an entirely different conversation :):)

 

$0.02

 

C

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I agree with Futzer also, except some of his statements are not entirely accurate. Some of the feathers found in craft stores & fly shops come from the same overseas sources. It comes from places like India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, the Phillipines, and other countries. Of course there is a big difference in what is raised in these places & what is raised in North America specifically for fly tying. Marabou for example can come from overseas, or from N.A. but marabou, is not generally raised specifically for tying and is a by product of turkey & chicken farming. Marabou is also used in making costumes & fashion designs, so fly tying is not the only use for higher quality feathers.

 

The difference in most craft feathers & tying feathers is in the grading, processing & handling. The majority of craft feathers are processed overseas, and the dyes used are not the same type used by American materials suppliers. The dyes used by craft suppliers are less expensive, and fade more readily than dyes used by tying materials suppliers. All dyes are chemicals of one form or another and will have some affect on the materials being dyed.

 

That harsh chemical smell you find in craft feathers is the result of chemical treatments for vermin, usually formaldehyde, a step required by our government on such imported materials. Again, the difference between craft materials & fly materials, wholesale suppliers also have to treat the feathers to insure they're free of vermin, but they also take added steps to clean them to remove the chemicals.

 

Some fly shops process their own materials, but most comes from companies who are wholesale suppliers. Some of the bigger wholesale houses, and names you'll often see in fly shops are Wapsi, Hareline, and Rumpf. They process their materials, and that is the primary difference in what they sell, and what is imported for craft shops. :rolleyes:

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Ya I agree with some points here. The only thing I really get from the craft stores often is foam. It's just sooo much cheaper and being a student, that means everything. But pretty much all my stuff comes from the fly shop, unless it's foam or other things that fly shops don't carry, that are unique to craft stores, such as some yarns.

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Thank you all, so far posters, I am hoping this will contain some insight as to how to pick the quality vs price. I for one will spend top dollar to buy the best genetic hackles for the barbule stiffness and shaft flexibility and fine diameter. I know foam is an obvious savings, but consider color and thickness, the craft stuff tends to have brighter colors and larger thicknesses than the expensive fly shop brands.

 

 

I hope with the great experience out there to get some comments on what to look for to make sure a deal is really a deal, I want to save the new tyers some money and same time difficulty with production by selecting a deal vs no deal.

 

Cheers, Jeff.

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Containers

Sometimes containers seem to be a better buy at the craft store. One thing to keep in mind is that if you'll be storing smaller hooks, not all of the craft store (bead) containers have tight enough lids to keep everything in the correct compartment.

 

Foam

As far as the foam goes, you can buy a huge package from the craft store for a couple of bucks. That package does generally contain hot pink, purple, etc... but to me it's worth the price to get the green, lime green, orange and yellow out of it. For beginners, you can use the bright colored foam for practice on predators or a similar pattern. Larger 8" x 14" sheets in "more ideal" colors are typically available for $0.99 each. I've purchased tan, brown, green and black in these sizes. I just mic'd the foam and it measures 1.85mm thick. While it wouldn't work for all patterns, it's great unless you need razor foam.

 

Paint

If you tie poppers, get your paint from the craft store. They have a wide selection and typically better prices. Currently, I'm using enamel, but will switch to acrylic soon. It looks like Delta Ceramcoat is a highly recommended brand.

 

Bead Chain (Eyes)

I don't usually find this at the craft store, but it's available at Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, etc. From what I can tell it's the exact same stuff sold at the fly shop. Just look for the ceiling fan pull chain.

 

Feathers

I've never bought them from a craft store and don't plan to. I've yet to find ANY that were decent tying quality.

 

Rotary Cutter / Cutting Mat

This is a great accessory you can get at the craft store if you're using a lot of foam. Get a properly sized ruler to fit the cutting mat while you're at it. You can zip precise sized strips of foam in no time.

Superglue, Zap-A-Gap, Epoxy - in my experience ALWAYS cheaper at craft stores... and it's the same stuff.

 

I suppose I stick to getting some "accessories" at craft stores, but if it grew on an animal... I'd rather get it from a fly shop.

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Speaking as a former fly pro for an independent shop, I feel obligated to say this, but may offend some...and I certainly do not mean to, but here goes:

 

I'm all about saving a few bucks and convenience. And I will buy things at the local Wally or large chain craft store...I will even order hard to get items directly from the manufacturer, BUT it is crucial you spend some bucks with your local guy. Most places in the Southern Midwest don't even have a fly shop. Hell, there's not a fly shop anywhere near the Cumberland and it's considered the best stocked trpohy tailwaters in the South...we have bait stores and terminal tackle stores that keep a few dusty, molded items under the counter for fly guys...but if your lucky enough to have an independent guy within 50 miles, make a point to occassionally spend a few bucks with him. The kid at Hobby Lobby will sure sell you some foam and doll eyes, but $100.00 says he can't tell you the generation schedule for the big rivers or what flies Bob and Joe took that 5 lb smallie on last week and how to get around the "No trepassing" sign at the gate where they slid the canoe in...Again, let me reiterate that I am not against big chains; I'm all about convenience and saving a buck, but sometimes spending a few extra bucks gets you more than just materials...it gets you good , quality info and keeps food on the table for your local guy who just gave up Fred and Joe's secret access two miles up from the Forks of the Elkhorn....just something to consider.

 

TWF, this was for you, Bro! Rob, no offense, Brother, you know you get most of my paycheck!

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I am a very disearning shopper when it comes to tools and supplies. Owning a dental lab ,I learned very early that cheap tools and materials end up costing more time and money in the long run and greatly effect the quality of the end product. I have learned the only way to truley save money is to by the finest material in bulk rather than buy cheap material that will not preform to the same standards. The same is true with tools. Most times a good tool will outlast and out perform several of its cheaper counterparts.Now I am not saying craft stores do not sell high quality items. But you must be careful which items will perform well when not used for their intended porpose.And as BigDaddyHub said patronize your local fly shops. They may not be able to compete in pricing with the big chain stores but have so much more to offer.

Jeff , great thread.

Fred

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Hey Gang,

 

I'm all for supporting our local fly shops...but...there are indeed a few things that I frequent craft and fabric stores for.

 

Here's my list...

 

- Sharpie permanent markers

- Google Doll eyes

- Glass/Plastic beads

- Craft Fur

- Furry Foam for Turneffe Crab patterns

- Aunt Lydia's type rug hooking yarn for Merkin crab flies

- Craft felt (for cutting out crab bodies)

- Plastic flower "staimens" SP? for Dragon/Damsel Shrimp and Crab patterns

- Craft foam (both 2 & 6 mm thicknesses...2mm for crease flies and 6mm for replacing worn foam in fly boxes)

- multitude of colours of plastic lacing (similar to oval or D-ribbing for Crazy Charlies and such)

- Super Glue

- Acrylic air-brush paint for custom crease flies

- LePages high-tack spray on adhesive (for attaching various mylars and/or materials to crease fly foam)

- Glitter (for adding to epoxy flies)

- Feather Boa (bought an 8ft black one about 5 years ago and have tied 100's of flies using it)

- Assorted spools of tinsels and mylar

- mono sewing thread (500yd spindle for $8.00 at Fabricland)

 

I'm sure theres a bunch more things but I just can't think of them right now.

 

Best regards folks,

 

Henry

 

 

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I don't buy any furs or feathers (with one exception) at the craft stores. I do buy glass beads, stretch beading cord, holographic mylar (Sulky Holoshimmer), rug yarn, foam, and embroidery threads at craft stores. A lot of this material I just can't find at my local fly shops, and I prefer it to the closest fly tying relation.

 

One feather I will buy at craft stores, primarily because I can't find them in fly shops, are exotic Pheasant Tail feathers. I've never seen a fly shop that carried Lady Amherst or Golden Pheasant tail feathers, but most craft stores with a fake-flower department will have these. I like the golden pheasant for a more mottled PT, and the Lady Amherst comes died blood red for a killer "blood midge" PT.

 

My local fly shop gets hundreds of dollars from me a year. The craft store might get one hundred. I do agree that you have to be careful with what you buy there.

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can anybody really say there is 100% high quality usable maribou feathers in that sewn up bundle you get from the fly shop?? you get a lot of junk feathers sewn in! otherwise , these feathers would cost a whole lot more than we are paying now!

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I am glad that the buy local thought came out, some of my best friends are shop rats or owners. I also have never had a shop refuse to exchange or refund if there was an issue with materials. When I travel to fish, I make a point to stop at any shops I see along the way. I will add, buying a round of Lattes, or a six pack has served me very well on information, many times hooking up with a local guide on a day off, just to fish.

 

As for things to watch for in your craft store feather purchase, Coloration, many dyes are brighter colors than I really want for trout patterns. Smell, take a whiff, before you buy, oily smell or chemical smell can affect your hook rate. Hackle stem diameter, many of the strung hackles have large stems that are quite brittle.

 

And thanks Yeoldkiller for the inspiration to thread, I hope it helps make a good decision on when a bargain is not really a bargain.

 

92Esquire, wrote, "One feather I will buy at craft stores, primarily because I can't find them in fly shops, are exotic Pheasant Tail feathers. I've never seen a fly shop that carried Lady Amherst or Golden Pheasant tail feathers, but most craft stores with a fake-flower department will have these. I like the golden pheasant for a more mottled PT, and the Lady Amherst comes died blood red for a killer "blood midge" PT."

 

Take a look at FeathersMC.com, for really high quality resonably priced exotics.

 

Cheers, Jeff.

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I buy very little from craft stores, normally paint, the occasional organizer or box, and a few small inexpensive tools, like dikes (wire cutters) and small pliers for mashing barbs. The rest I buy from fly stores, none of which are in my area, because the closet is around 125 to 150 miles away. I generally buy online from:

 

J. Stockard: http://www.jsflyfishing.com/

 

Thornes Manufacturing out of Canada: http://thornesmanufacturing.com/

 

Bob Marriott's Fly Fishing Store: http://www.bobmarriottsflyfishingstore.com/

 

Cabela's: http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/template...yFishing*051509 and Bass Pro Shops: http://www.basspro.com/flyfishing.html for smaller, less important items,

 

Fisherman's Corner: http://www.fishermans-corner.com/FLYSHOP.htm

 

Orvis: http://www.orvis.com/store/shop.aspx?dir_i...1448&bhcp=1 I like their flyboxes, especially when they're on sale!

 

Line's End: http://www.linesend.com/

 

These are my favorite stores. I have spent by far the most money with J. Stockard because of their inventory, service and and responsible, honest treeatment of clients. Each of these stores has treated me very well though, and equal to that I have received from J. Stockard. The defining factor, though, is J. Stockard supports us here, so I support them when I can.

 

I cannot prove I get better quality materials from the fly shops, but I certainly believe I do, and that simple fact keep me coming back. Fly tying and fly fishing, along with occasional conventional fishing, kayaking and backpacking are my hobbies. I don' drink, smoke, chase wild women (I never caught them anyway) or spend much money on myself otherwise, so I spend quite a lot on each of these hobbies, and that is a true blast. These are my vices; I buy what I want, and I spend a lot more than I should.

 

Like Fred, I have found high quality instrumentation is a far better investment than buying poorer quality. Right now, I usually buy Dr. Slick instruments: http://www.drslick.com/ because they come closest on the open market to the quality of the veterinary surgical instruments I use when operating at the clinic. I have thought about buying what I do actually use; they are more expensive, but so far the Slick line has worked extremely well for me.

 

I love my hobbies; they help me enjoy life!

 

Ray

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I get my ostrich herl from a craft store, tons better than fly shop herl (Over 6'' herls, and really dense), maybe I got lucky. And I get foam from craft stores. Though most everything else is better quality at a fly shop.

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