cheap and effective fly tying
I made the following statement in a thread, so decided I better back it up…
#10 streamer, #12, #14 nymph, and #16 dry fly hooks, peacock herl, some hackle (I like grizzly), elk hair, pheasant tail, some dubbing material, maribou, mallard flank (I like the yellow color), thread, small copper wire, a bobbin, head cement, and some scissors, a vice, are all you really need to start tying buggers, stillwater nymphs, EHCs, birdsnests, Arizona Peacock Ladies, and other flies that will catch fish. in the above list the only not really cheap item is the grizzly hackle unless you can find some hundred packs.
I was thinking about doing a write up on fishing and fly tying on the cheap, just have not got around to it yet. I can't say I dont have money invested in materials as I have lots of materials, and use most of it occasionally, but I make sure I never run out of peacock herl, yellow mallard flank feathers, and grizzley hackle - especially if you are fishing stillwater.
Materials and Costs:
Hooks - $5 bucks for 50 (4 x 5 = $20)
Herl - $4
Hackle – Whiting 100 pack (if you can find it) $20 the used to be $10 and readily available
Elk Hair or Comparadun Hair – $3 to $5
Pheasant tail - $7
Dubbing – 12 pack dispenser with 12 lifecycle colors - $14
Maribou - $2.50 to $5
Mallard Flank - $6
Copper wire - $1.50
Thread - $2 a roll
Head cement (Flexament) $4.00
Vise and tools – price varies – you can buy a cheap kit for $30 that has a vice, scissors, bobbin, hackle pliers, whip finish tool, etc (I’ve been using mine for 3 years) or a top of the line vice for $300 and individual tools at $4 to $30 each. For the purpose of this article – I have the Cabela’s Deluxe Tool Kit with Case – currently on sale (10/26/11) for $29.99
Total investment tolls and materials (from above) ~$100
Question: Can you tie cheaper than you can buy – well, I think the answer is either yes, no, or maybe. You can break even, if you use the above “cheap list”, you should be able to tie a couple hundred flies (you have 200 hooks) which would be cheaper than the cost of 200 flies at a buck a piece.
However, if you go for the more pricey tools, capes, multiple colors of different tying materials, tie more complex flies, etc, well, it may take longer to break even, or you may find you are behind.
The real advantage of tying yourself, in my opinion, is you can tie what you want when you want (assuming you have the right materials), it is relaxing, and you never have to worry about the store being out of a hot pattern you want to use – plus, there is nothing quite like the thrill of the first (or hundredth) time you catch a nice trout (or other fish) on a fly you tied yourself.
I probably have not bought a fly from the store in a year or more, except to support my local fly shop and when I want to get a little local knowledge at a remote shop.
Patterns you can tie with the above list:
You can of course tie a bunch of unnamed patterns, with grizzly hackles or grizzly hackle that is palmered into the dubbing or peacock herl body, use Pheasant tail for wing cases, wrapped marabou bodies, etc. Here are a few that come to mind that are known patterns you can tie with the material list above – maybe not an exact to the pattern (zug bug, bi-visible, etc) but close enough to catch fish:
Wooly buggers (use a peacock herl brush, 6 strands of herl, or wrapped maribou for the body), Stillwater nymphs, EHCs, birds nest, Peacock Ladies, PTN, Griffith Gnat, Grizzly Bivisible, stimulators, mosquito, Brassie, Copper John, Grizzly Zug bug Nymph, and many more. Maybe we should have a swap where the only material that can be used is in the above list to see how creative people can be.
My favorite Stillwater nymph: Not sure if there is a name for it or not, but I call it a peacock and mallard nymph
#12 Nymph hook
Yellow died mallard flank for the tail, about ½ the length of the hook long (make sure it is well marked) tie the tail in but do not trim the butt section, you are going to use this as a wing case – fold it back and out fo the way, a few wraps of thread will hold it there
Tie in Small Copper wire for ribbing, grizzly hackle, and 4 strands of peacock herl I wrap the herl with the tying thread to make it stronger (you can make herl brushes if you want), then wrap forward herl and thread together on the hook leaving room for the whipped head.
Palmer the hackle, but use only 3 or 4 turns
Reverse wrap the copper wire (wiggle it as you wrap so you dont trap the hackle)
Pull the mallard over the top of the fly and tie it down
Trim the hackle fibers so there are no fibers pointing up hackle fibers to the sides and angling down are ok
Whip finish and head cement.
Have fun tying and fishing this fly and the others you can tie “on the cheap”