I have to agree. I don't see the reason for someone that has never tied to spend huge amounts of money to get into tying. Most kits are good enough or passable. While as stated they won't be the highest quality....if a tier purchases future tying upgrades they will at least have a spare set of tools to fall back on. Or even keep as a travel kit.
I'm not sure but I think when this subject has came up (since I became part of this forum) I've always been the Kit Camp. I've not argued against ala' cart setups but believe a kit provides the tools and materials for a beginner to ascertain whether or not fly tying is their new love.
I started with a Trout & Pan Fish kit that was a gift when I was young. As experience and money allowed I slowly upgraded the vise and other tools but it was the kit that fueled the fire. Of course we didn't have the internet or fly fishing forums then and so I was not looking at perfectly made flies when I started tying. Heck, the flies people post here are ten times better tied than what was shown in most fly tying books in the nineteen sixties and seventies. We've came a very long ways in every aspect of fly fishing & tying but there is still a place for kits I think.
Fred I agree Ard is correct in saying Todays Flies are far Better than The earlier ones I know I can Tie better Flies which seem to last longer for many Reasons such as Access to different & Better Quality Materials especially Tying Threads etc etc.
Anyone who has used The Old Pearsall's Gossamer Thread will know what I'm saying, I found because I always had rough Skin on The Fingers I was always breaking The Thread it was a Real Pain.
Previously I've mentioned where most Kits I'd seen had stuff which is hardly ever used however I have bought The Accessories Kits & Kits which supplied all The Materials to Tie a Dozen or so of one Individual Pattern.
I'll have to second the notion on fly tying kits. Several years ago my wife bought me a kit from Bass Pro to get me started tying. None of the tools were top of the line, although I still use a few today, the hackles weren't top quality by any means, but I certainly couldn't tell the difference with my first few adams. It was a great way for me to learn how to tie, and not break the bank.
With my kit the first thing I needed to upgrade was the vise, I'm assuming that would be the case for most kits, but I guess every one is different.
My wife also says I'm a sucker for kit so I may be biased
You folks make some very good points. I started with no tools, then improvised tools & whatever materials I could get and eventually purchased what was at the time better tools. I have upgraded too a few times over the years. Tying & what is now available in tools & materials has come a very long way as Ard has appropriately pointed out.
I've been in the buy a la carte camp on this subject for awhile now.
When I was tying commercially & selling supplies, I had looked at several kits, and only found one that I thought was worth selling. It was put together by Pete Zito, who was the owner of Black Canyon Flies & Supplies, a wholesale supplier, with the aid of Eric Leiser, who was one of Pete's good friends. Both men were very experienced tyers. This particular kit had good tools, a decent vise & a good array of general use materials including good quality dry fly hackle. Other kits I had looked at either did not have good quality tools or vise, or the materials were of poor quality.
My biggest concern with kits today for beginners, is they may not necessarily get them started with tying flies they can use. Fly fishing has become very diverse. So as an example, a beginning tyer who fishes the south coast of Florida saltwater has different needs for tools & materials than someone who
fishes for trout in the NC mountains. Sure, the same kit will get them started,
but IMO, it's like saying buy any rod & reel outfit to get started, then upgrade. We know that isn't the way it should be done. Like the rod & reel outfit, a tying kit should also fulfill the needs of the tyer, not just get them started.
If there are kits that fit the individuals needs as a beginner, such as species or general fishing type (trout, bass, panfish, etc.) and provide tools & materials that are at least average quality, then I would have no issue with recommending them. Flytires point that we can't check them all, is very valid.
Any kit that contains any poor quality tools & materials IMO is not a good way to start a beginning tyer, because either can make the learning process difficult & frustrating.
I agree that experienced tyers can make better use of less than desirable materials or even some of the tools. I do that all the time. But, because beginners don't usually know the difference, that's the standard by which they end up judging future purchases, and unless someone sets them straight, they're likely to keep making the same mistakes & suffering the same frustrations. That's not how I would want to have someone get started.
Perhaps, an effort could be made to review & evaluate some of the kits currently available, listing pro's & con's & what type of tying they may be best suited. I don't know if that's feasible or not, but that seems to me to be a better approach than blindly recommending general tying kits.
The only reason that I can see for a kit is if the person has no other option because that is all they can afford, or if the new tier is not close enough to a fly shop or big box store to buy individual materials. Even then, if the new tier has a mentor, I think a better option is to buy quality used tools and just the materials for the flies the new tier will actually use.
My belief is that the surest way to discourage a new tier is if he cannot tie flies that will catch fish. So I think a new tier should tie the flies he actually uses.
If a new tier wants to start with a kit, find a tier that has used a kit and buy the discarded vise and tools from him/her or look on Ebay and then buy good materials. There are plenty of them out.
The problem with kits is exactly what Jim stated that they don't necessarily fit the needs of the tyer. Usually if your new to tying you want to tie for fish and the area you are used to. Later on when you really get into tying your outlook may change and then you can buy what you need as you need it.
When I was a kid and started tying I only fished saltwater and there was no such kit. I had an old vise got some 1/0 and 2/0 hooks wherever I could find them bought some bucktail and I was in business . As I read and had more opportunities I advanced my equipment as well as my materials to fit the situation.
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
A kit that doesn't teach the flies a new tier won't be using would be useless. I agree 100%. I haven't shopped kits in quite some time, I simply don't have need any more. The kit I got had a step by step video showing how to tie 6 trout flies, and all the materials needed to tie them, with a few tools. I can only assume there would be kits out there for all types of fishing, flats, saltwater, bass, warm water, ect. If not there certainly should be!
Bigjim, I've gotta say how much I respect you not carrying inventory you don't believe in. That shows a lot about who you are. So many people these days don't sell what they feel is best for their customers, just what will sell and they can make money on. It's sad.