Okay so i just got back into fly fishing, the kids are grown now and i have time to actually take it seriously now. I usually get out at least once or twice a week. I have been buying all my flies from FlyShack.com or Flystop.com. The average price between the two of them is around .70 cents a piece
I am now seriously considering trying to start tying my own. I realize it's probably super gratifying to catch fish on flies that you tied by yourself. I have a few questions for you guys that tie your own flies.
1. Is it economically worth tying your own?
2. When a person first starts, do they buy a boat load of material or do they pick a fly they use a lot and start there?
3. How good of a vise do i really need? I don't want junk only to have to upgrade later, but i want to try to keep my initial investment under $400.
4. What sort of tool do i need and should i buy a kit or all the stuff separately?
5. The plan now is to start with midges, eggs, and other small nymphs since right now this is what i'm fishing through winter. Is this smart?
6. Are there any good websites i could checkout. Mainly for understanding the terminology?
Any info you guys have to offer will be greatly appreciated.
Pick a couple patterns you want to tie n buy materials accordingly. Also buy the best vise n tools your budget will allow. YouTube has some good how to vids in tying different patterns. Just google the pattern you most want tie n see what ya find.
I've tied a few but haven't fished them yet. I bought cheap materials n cheap tools and became frustrated and haven't tied anymore since. I have used a friends Equiptment and really enjoyed the quality tools n good vise.
There was another thread about this on here recently, this fall. But:
1. You likely won't save money over buying, but as you already seem to know, you'll gain other advantages like satisfaction and ability to tie what you want.
2. Buy what you need to tie what you use. Your materials stash will grow rapidly whether you want it to or not!
3. Buy a quality vise. Spend $100-$200. Try before you buy, if possible.
4. I'd buy tools separately, but at once, from a good fly shop. Again, put your hands on them. Buy the best scissors you can get. (I like Dr Slick). Bobbin, hackle pliers, maybe a couple other items. You don't need a tool shed.
5. Tie what you'll use the soonest. If you can go out and use what you tie, and catch fish, you'll have the fever and tie like a mad man.
6. Internet is overloaded with fly recipes, videos of how to tie nearly everything, and books galore. Google any fly name, and hang on! Its never been easier to learn to tie flies. You can see more demos in a day than I could have seen in months or years when I started.
Like anything else, just practice. Tie, tie, tie. Your flies will get better, and you will get more efficient with each one.
One other question i forgot to ask. Is a fly tying course necessary? I mean i am a total noob. And none of my friends fly fish so asking them any questions is not an option. I did search YouTube on a specific fly, Holy Mackerel, videos galore!
The one thing that does look really tricky is that tool they use to whip. Gonna have to study on that one awhile.
What are some of the features i need or are nice to have in a vice, and what are the ones i could probably do without?
Thanks for the quick replies guys and keep them coming.
A class isn't necessary, but would certainly give you a great head start. If you have a local fly shop or two, use their resources, and support them with some purchases. Most can teach you tons. Some will give you one-on-one instructions. If a class is an option, do it.
I believe, as was once told to me, that "Got gave you the best whip finishing tool there is." Your index and middle fingers! I tried a whip finishing tool for a while, but found my hands do it just as well or better, and I don't need to pick up another tool. Your results may vary, but I'd try it without the tool first.
Its nice to have a vice that rotates. "Rotary." It makes access to the entire hook/fly easier during the process. There are quite a few really good ones out there these days. Again, that fly shop is your best place to look, try, and buy. Many of them have weekly or monthly seminars and tying demos, especially in the winter months. Go if you can. Check out fly shows too. Nothing beats watching a master from a few feet away.
The whip finish can be a bit daunting at first, but practice a bit and its no problem. Make sure your vise is capable of holding the hook size you will be using. Some are better at holding small hooks, while others require a smaller set of jaws. My vise doesn't hold the small hooks very well, but will hold larger ones well and is ok for practice.
No matter what pattern you start with, you will probably use more materials than necessary. For example, a hair wing on a bucktail - cut the amount of hair you think you need... then use only half of it. The fly will both look better, as well as swim better.
You can find many different fly tying supplies around the house. Why buy fancy furs if you already have a cat or dog in the house? Perhaps your wife has an old sweater with a wool yarn that is perfect for a fly... she won't miss a few inches from the cuff. After a few years of fly tying, you will notice materials everywhere. The difficulty is convincing your spouse that a three-day-old roadkill pheasant is valuable.
I tied 2.5 years on a $25 vise from j stockad. Worked fine. I'm glad I upgraded now but if cash is tight don't break the bank on a pricey vise. Don't skimp on scissors (I use Dr slick. Not all that expensive but there are cheaper ones that might tempt). And get a bobbin with a ceramic insert.
Regarding economy of tying your own. Don't forget that all flies are not tied equally. Some discount flies are tied with cheap material and your dries may float better and longer. Also discount flies may fall apart faster than flies you tie, especially if you use a drop of head cement. Additionally you can tweak patterns and create versions that aren't for sale.
I tie for three reasons, the meditation therapy stress relief, the feeling of self reliance and the satisfaction of landing fish on self made flies and patterns. If I looked at the economics of it, it might depress me. Tying is my hobby and hobbies cost time and money. I spend what I feel appropriate. Usually a trip or two a week to the fly shop.
There was a great thread I found on vices here. They did a big review of all vices from under 50 to over 200 bucks. The Peak vices and Anvil Atlas looked nice and were under 200. i would finally recommend searching past threads.