Re: Shopping list
It is tough to come out ahead, even withy saltwater flies--- but on the other hand- the materials are relatively inexpensive at least for the basics, and you can tie all kinds of stuff that sometimes will be hard to find in shops.
You might also check around to see if your local fly shop offers a tying class-- many do offer them this time of year and through the winter and since you're in CT near the LI Sound, the shop may offer a SW tying course.
If you have a decent shop, I'd resist the urge to buy off ebay--- one of the most confusing things starting out is trying to figure out what materials to use, and getting the right stuff for the patterns you're tying. After you've been tying a while you'll have a good sense of what to buy--- and that's a good time to start expanding your search for materials into craft stores, ebay etc. There's a lot of stuff on ebay that are grab bag kits of materials, etc that look like bargains, but may be useless for what you're tying.
And the prices in shops for the most part are the same or similar to the same quality stuff you'll find elsewhere. Using the right materials can make a huge difference.
You'll need a few basic tools and materials to get started:
Vise - key here is getting something that will hold the hook sizes you'll be using rock solid. Not all vises will do this. Cheap imported "bargain vises" with soft metal jaws and poorly machined parts will give you fits. For NE SW you'll probably mostly be tying on size 2 to 2/0 hooks, at least initially. Down the road it might expand a bit to include a few in size 4 (for shrimp, cinder worms, and bay anchovies) to size 5/0 or 6/0 (for large herring and menhaden imitations). Obviously if you also decide to fish in freshwater too you'll want something that will hold a wide range of hook sizes-- perhaps even down into the 20's for trout.
If you do shop for vises make sure the jaws will hold a wide range of hook sizes--either with one set of jaws, or with interchangeable, modestly priced (at around $40) optional jaws.
You have several options for starting out--- cheapest is a pair of vise grips or even a regular bench vise if you have one on a workbench in the basement or your garage. Either should be fine for holding SW size hooks 2 and up if you want to just ease into it and get a feel for tying. Eventually you'll want a real vise, but it should be OK to start with. For smaller size hooks-- like trout stuff, you wouldn't have much clearance and these won't work very well work.
In terms of what to look for, everything after holding hooks securely comes in as a distant second. But some other handy features are a vise that rotates so you can view it from all sides, and the ability to adjust the angle of the jaws up and down, as opposed to a vise with jaws set at a fixed angle. This will also help if you work with epoxy or some of the new UV cured resins for patterns like surf candies etc. For saltwater flies, it helps to have a some clearance between the front of the jaws and the vise stem for tying long tails on streamers. It also helps if the vise is sturdy with a heavy base (if a "pedestal" model) to keep it from tipping or moving around on your desk when cranking down on thread.
Much of it comes down to personal preference, and there are a lot of great choices out there at different price points.
A couple things to keep in mind is that there are different mechanisms for holding hooks with spring clamp jaws, cam jaws and draw/collet.
And vises will differ also based on whether they allow you to adjust the angle of the jaws up or down, and/or allow you to rotate the jaws. here are some examples of vises used for SW flies (there are may others, hut these seem to come up the most often):
non-rotating, fixed angle vises- Jaws are fixed at a 30 degree angle and don't rotate.
Rotating fixed angle- Jaws rotate but are in a metal collar that fixes the angle at 30 degrees. Examples Dyna King Kingfisher $120, HMH Silhouette SX $135
Adjustible angle, 360 rotary - where the jaws rotate but the hook shank doesn't stay in the same plane. You can view the fly from all sides. Regal Medallion with Big Game Jaws ($195 for c-clamp or $290 with bronze pedestal base- sometimes you can find used regal medallions with base for $150 but make sure they have "Big Game" jaws (for hook sizes 22 to 5/0), HMH Spartan $185
True rotary (where the shank of the hook rotates in a constant plane). These vises allow you to view the fly from all angles as the 360 vises, but with the added benefit of facilitating "rotary tying techniques" where for instance you can hold the bobbin in place while you spin the jaws to wind thread around the shank instead of wrapping the the bobbin around the hook shank. Examples include Peak $150, Renzetti Cam Traveler $185, Dyna King Trekker $229 and Dyna King Barracuda $359
If you want to spring for an inexpensive vise, realizing that you'll probably want to upgrade fairly soon you might consider a new Griffin 2A (goes for around $50-60), or a used vintage Thompson model A's (go for around $30-35 or so)
Add some tools with recommendations for decent, good, better
Bobbin to hold thread. Avoid cheap Asian imports, minimum acceoptable a Griffin metal tube bobbin for $7, better Griffin ceramic tube (ceramic tube is less likely to cut thread) for $13-14. More expensive bobbins with ceramic tubes from Matarelli, Tiemco, Wasatch, Dr Slick etc. for $18 and up are all great, but it's handy to have several bobbins for different spools of thread-- you can always add more expensive ones down the road and.
Scissors- 3-4" needlepoint scissors you may already have lying around or can buy from a sewing/craft store for $3-5, Dr Slick Arrow Point Scissors $14
Bodkin- just a needle on a stick, any import $2 Get one with a hex handle so it doesn't ro;l off your desk
Optional but good to have
Whip finisher- you should learn to do it by hand but having a tool is helpful for many folks. There are a couple differtnt types, the easiest to use is a Matarelli or "Matarelli style" import. Dr Slick ("matarelli style" import) $6.50, Matarelli $18
Bobbin Threader any import $2
Luhr Jensen Hook 6" file to touch up hook points as needed $8-9
Stuff you already have:
Needle nosed pliers for pinching down barbs
thin plastic grocery bag- slip a handle over your vise and use it to catch trimmings.
hooks: mustad 3407DT (less expensive) or 34007 size 2 and 2/0 A good way to cover different sizes of bait with a limited amount of hooks, small stuff tied on a size 2 without a tail = 2 1/2- 3", big stuff tied on 2/0 with tail = 6"
At some point you'll want to add other sizes as well as other designs like the short shanked eagle claw 254 or 253, or may move to better quality but more expensive hooks like Owner Aki etc.
"Salt water" length or "extra large" Bucktail- white, yellow, olive, chartreuse $5 (tons of uses, in many patterns)
Strung Peacock Herl 1/4 oz 3.50 (for toppings on streamers)
Danvilles Flat Waxed Thread black, chartreuse and white $2 spool ( a good strong thread for SW flies)
Strung SW length 5-7" saddle hackle, white about $3.50 for tails on deceivers
Body Braid: pearl and or silver $3.50 for bodies on flies
Krystal Flash- pearl for a little bling $3.50
SW Flashabou - silver $4
Lead or nontoxic dumbell eyes for clousers (small for size 2, medium for 1/0 or 2/0) 24 for $3
Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails as head cement from any drugstore
With this you can tie clousers, deceivers, bucktail deceivers, glass minnows, bendbacks, ray's flies, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Keep asking questions. Lot's of folks on the board chase stripers and can help you along with this.