Top 10 Countdown: Tie Your Own Stinking Flies.

Here are my (Josh’s) top 10 reasons you should start to tie your own flies.
10.  So many different fly recipes can be found on line.
If you wanted to learn a new fly 10 years ago you would have to have to buy a book or magazine and follow the step by step instructions.  This could get costly as you compile books and magazine subscriptions.  Now you can find almost any fly you could dream of online.  Instructional videos can be found on and recipes can be found on a countless number of tying blogs and forums.  For Free.
9.  Fly tying is a relaxing way to spend time.
There is something therapeutic that happens when I sit at a vise with Blitzen Trapper or some other tunes on and tie for a couple hours each night.  I don’t know if it is the rhythm I get into or if it concentrating on something less stressful than the bills but for whatever reason I settle down when I am tying.
8.  Your watching TV already might as well use your hands for something besides scratching yourself or stuffing your face.  
Seriously I can listen/watch a game and tie a lot of flies.  Multi-task and you will find your box filling up fast.  It’s time you are already spending sitting down so just grab a fold up tray and get to it.
Note: feathers and hooks in the carpet will definitely not go over so well so use a tying vise bag.
7.  Tying your own flies can be an art form.
Be creative.  Think outside the box.  I tie my CDC Caddis with a different head than most, due to thinking through the fly artistically.  I still remember the first time I gave a stranger a fly at a stream.  He was getting skunked and I was doing pretty well.  We were fishing CDC Caddis and his loud friend had been telling everyone how experienced he was and how meticulously he tied the flies they were both fishing.  It was getting old and I could tell the newbe was getting frustrated by their lack of action (they were becoming permanent residents of skunkville).  So when I got a chance I slipped the new guy a couple of my ties.  He looked at me and said where did you get these.  I replied, “From my vise” and started to slip away as he whispered, “Seriously? These look so nice.” He tied one on and had a nice rainbow dancing on the end of his line the next cast.  His friend too self indulged to notice our exchange started making a commotion and asked the guy which one of his flies worked.  My new friend with his hands full working the fish just yelled…”One of his” referring to me.  The “expert” was shocked.  Not all my flies look perfect but some do, and those are the ones I am most proud of and most willing to give to others.  I don’t think the fish admired my fly before he took it.  The take was probably more a result of having a more accurate color or size match, but it was certainly a satisfying moment.  
6.  It’s not as hard as you think.
It seems intimidating at first especially if you decide to start with a difficult fly.  Once you learn some of the basic techniques your tying will come along pretty quickly.  Don’t get frustrated with yourself, give it some time and you will be pleased with how quickly you pick it up. 
5.  Fly-tying is a great way to trade for other gear.
Tapered leaders, indicators, a new vise, tippet, tying materials, scissors, gloves, hats, gas money on trips, beverages, fly boxes and even stogies.  When you have the fly they need and can’t find at the shop you can get all kinds of gear for your ties.  Trading flies for gear also means you don’t have to explain all the weird Cabelas purchases that show up on your account statements.
4.  You will save money.
I know there is debate about this.  Some guys say you spend more money tying than you do buying.  Those are also the same guys who run a 600 dollar vise and have their peacock’s in a pen out back.  If you are economical and smart about it.  You definitely save money in the long run.  I tie on a Danvise.  You can get one of these well reviewed vices for around 80 bucks.  A zebra midge costs me 22 cents to tie.  Glue and other tools run about 10 dollars.  It have about 50 zebra midges in my box right now.  The local fly shop charges 2 dollars for a zebra midge.  At 2 dollars, 50 zebra midges cost me 100 dollars…plus tax. I already paid for all of my material and my vice which will tie me 10s of thousands of flies.  Even still you say your time is worth more than the 20 bucks I saved myself on those 50 zebra midges.  But the truth is I have probably tied another 100 zebra midges for family and friends on the same amount of materials I had to buy just to tie the 50 for myself.  
You don’t even need a Danvice to make money on the deal.  A friend of mine has a 20 dollar beginner set up he got for Christmas when he was in college 10 years ago.  He is still tying on that vice and easily ties a thousand flies a year.  If your smart you will save loads of cash.
3.  You can tie flies that work better than flies found in fly shops.
There are almost always flies that work so well for the particular stream you are fishing that can’t be found in the local fly shops.*  There are many theories as to why this is true.  One is that the guides working out of these shops save the best stuff for their boxes.  Another theory is that the companies are to lazy to send the recipe and demo flies overseas to the manufacturers.  I am not sure if any of that is true but I know this I can’t find the perfect flies for my streams anywhere but on my vise.  They may have something close…but when I know what works almost every cast, close doesn’t cut it.

*I have found one exception and that is the Rangeley Region Fly Shop in Maine.  Owner, guide and tier Brett Damm seems to put the best stuff out for his customers…not just his clients.

2.  You can fish better fly sizes than are offered in fly shops.
If the fly shop does have the right fly, you know the one that makes you want to buy their complete stock so that no one else will be fishing it for the next couple of days, it probably isn’t the perfect size. I can’t tell you how many times I was looking for a size 20 or 22 in something and found the shop only carries it down to 18.
1.  Nothing beats a fish taking a fly you tied on your vice.

This is one of the greatest feelings I think attainable in the midst of the incredible experience that can be found in all things fly.

Comments 1

  1. Also, you fish better when you think of your flies as "disposable" because you make them yourself for pennies. If you're shelling out 2 bucks apiece, you're less likely to make that risky cast up under the brush where a big fish waits.

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