More and more fly fishermen and women are picking up the vices and tools and tying their own patterns, and I could not be more stoked! There are certainly many cool aspects of tying one’s own flies whenever possible, as well as very real benefits. Let’s explore the comparisons between tying and buying and you can make the decision.
First and foremost, when I consider the benefits of being able to tie my own flies, one inherent result emerges which is the real basis of doing the work myself. There is no better feeling than catching a fish on a fly that you yourself have tied – period. When I can catch a fish on a fly that I have made myself, I feel as though I am completing the circle of casting, catching, thinking and preparing. In the scheme of things, what else is there?
Let us now take a look at the cost benefits of tying over buying. I am reminded of an article I read just a month ago from a fisherman writing for a shop in Wyoming (won’t mention the shop or writer’s name, but if you assumed this shop was only 30 miles away from Driggs, you would be right.) The article goes on to say that the cost of purchasing the needed vice, tools and materials would counter the savings of tying one’s own flies. Huh? That is like saying you should just rent skiis instead of buying them because the initial cost would be cheaper than purchasing. Sure, if you are a beginning tier, you will have to pony up between $100 and $200 to get started tying, depending upon the quality of the vice you choose. And sure, you will need to then start your collection of materials, hooks, beads, feathers and threads for the future. However, let’s say you put down the $200 to get started? These vices and tools are often one-time purchases for years of tying! How many store-bought flies can you buy with $200? 80 flies? 100 flies? Less, if purchased from said shop above? I would wager that the average fly fishermen forks that over to shops in one season easily. From merely a standpoint of dollars, you would make up the cost of purchasing equipment in the first season, if not sooner.
There are certainly many times where tying flies will be next to impossible, even for veteran tiers. While there are myriad of patterns that are relatively simple to tie, there are also many that I leave to the experts. I buy many patterns from shops and have since I first picked up a fly rod – it will be inevitable. What I try to do is tie the vast amount of patterns that I can and leave the difficult ones to guys like Doug Gibson. He is our head guide and a master tier and I gobble up advice and direction from guys like him whenever possible. We all learn by observing and asking questions and will for a lifetime.
Finally, some food for thought. Even though we have progressed in life beyond the days in first grade making macaroni noodle pictures with glue and sparkle, we still have an urge to create things with our hands, and fly tying is the ultimate arts & crafts for adults. It engages us to create and expand our knowledge of fishing with artificial presentations. Fly tying also gives us a much better concept of amateur entomology, which is invaluable to the rocky mountain trout fisherman. I encourage you to pick up this hobby and you will find it to be rewarding in so many ways other than just a savings in your wallet.
TRR has all the options and advice for the beginning fly tier and the Driggs location hosts a weekly fly tying night during the winter off-season. Every Wednesday night we get together from 4pm to 6pm to tie, discuss patterns, offer advice and provide a club-like atmosphere where beginning to advanced fly tiers can interact. If you are interested, please contact Dave Heib at (208) 354-1200 or stop by the shop Tuesday through Saturday and we can discuss all of your future needs.
Happy tying from the Crew at TRR!