View Full Version : News Sentinel Fly Tying Article

04-12-2009, 10:17 PM
Okay, how many of you out there read this article in the News Sentinel?


My father-in-law tried to get my hackles up today with this article, no pun intended. He immediately started throwing out figures about how much more expensive it is to tie flies than just to buy them, but did not tell me the rest of the piece. I immediately countered with, "Sure it is more expensive if you buy a rooster saddle, hooks, fur, thread, etc. to only tie a few flies. But if you use the materials to the extent that I do by tying dozens of each pattern at a time, then it is ultimately cheaper.

Now after sitting down and reading the article, the author isn't taking a particular side on the issue. However, he is presenting the other side of the coin that most of us see when we tie our own flies. The experience and joy of catching a fish on something I created by my own hands. The first time you take that fly out of the vise and look it over, and you immediately drift off to a place where you just know this fly will work perfectly.

That is why I enjoy tying my own flies. The fact that I actually can tie them for less money than it takes to buy them is the argument that I also use with my wife.

04-13-2009, 12:20 AM
From the article:
"Perhaps the very act of tying the flies has a value you cannot put money on."

Good thing. Last week, for the first time in 5 years of tying, my wife finally asked me how much money I thought I had "invested" in all of my "Fly Tying Stuff"...

I explained that I had about $600 in materials and another $200 in my vice, etc. To which I quickly commented that I have already tied over 500 flies, so I have actually saved money in the process....She just smiled and said: Good thing you do it because you enjoy it, otherwise it would seem like a waste of money when you can buy them for less than $2 a piece...

David Knapp
04-13-2009, 12:32 AM
At the rate I lose flies in the trees and submerged rocks, logs, etc, I would probably lose $10-$20 per trip to the Smokies minimum if I was buying them all. In the long run, it turns out cheaper as much as I fish and as many flies as I go through...(or at least I keep telling myself that...:eek:) Tying costs a lot or at least can but I like the viewpoint that it has value that can't be measured in any currency...:cool:

04-13-2009, 12:44 AM
The Run Down-

There's been some interesting stuff floating about this forum as of lately! This one captures my heart, and I've written about it in the past.

I'm gonna throw out one thing here and see how it mauls over. One fly....The parchute adams! How many of these guys have you all purchased from the store. A bigillion! This is one fly that if you enjoy tying, which I don't, will last just about a life time!

Commercial tiers are soley based on time. Time=Money in this business. There has been numerous articles written about tying for money. These guys buy 3 dozen hair stackers, pre cut there materials, and lay it all out in front of them before even starting tying for the day. There was even an article written by a commercial tier who figured out that if he put his scizzors down after every cut, he would waste "X" amount of time.

So with that in mind these guys tie quickly and as a result sometimes you get whip finishes that unwind, materials that fall out, hackles that unwind, ribbings that unwind, poor commercial quality materials, etc. Most shops are paying half of what the fly costs and sometimes less. So the tier has to cut costs where he can to survive in the business!

Not to mention your getting the exact same fly just about everytime. What matches the hatch where the originator spun the fly may not match the hatch locally. When you tie your own, it allows you to not only be creative, but more effectively "match the hatch"

Can't Stop at One-

I will only mention one more fly for the sake of argument. Anyone who has used this fly will understand. "The Split Back PMD" I bought my first batch at a local fly shop and fished with them. I absolutely fell in love with the look of the fly, but after the first eat the biots would tear lose and became an utterly useless fly. The fish just simply wouldn't eat it anymore.

I quickly learned how to tie the fly and my first tied Split Back PMD caught SEVERAL South Holston brownies! Not just the lil guys, the toothy ones, the 17'' + inchers! It was then and there I decided I would get better with the bobbin.

Adding confidence-

Find patterns you like, disect them, alter them if you like, then tie them. Confidence goes along way in picking your fly selection. I've personally noticed that I'll fish one of my flies longer and harder than I would a store bought fly. I think the confidence is there because you wanted it to work from the second it came off the vice and tried every presentation possible while trying to make it work.


If you tie, you've probably found yourself reading various buggy articles on forums, in books, on various web sites, and where ever else you can get your hands on. Learning bug terminology, names, hatch times, places, etc. All of which makes us better anglers. Because there's nothing like standing waste deep in a stream watching a hatch going off and then coming into LRO after throwing everything in your fly box, getting completely skunked and saying "I saw this yellow bug, it was about a half inch long, looked like it had three tails, with a tinge of brown to it. You know what that was?"

Speaking of confidence, a well known individual and inventer of the pheasant tail, Sawyer, tied six bugs and said he could use them any where in the world and catch fish. He was right. Proof in the pudding!

Thinking outside the box-

There is a man, I can't think of his name, who tied all of his bugs in white. When he got stream side he would check the hatch. Then he would pull out a box of permanent markers and go to work. Pretty smart. One mayfly pattern to match every fly on the stream. Tied in different sizes of course, but all it took was a little ink and he was in business!

Since making that discovery, I won't go on the river without my bag of Prisma Makers!


Everyone likes visiting the fly shop, but I personally hate going to the fly shop just for flies. The winter months provide the average angler with enough downtime to tie a virtual army of flies, even lending enough time to get creative with new possibilites. So when other people are rushing through the summer crowd standing around crowded fly bins, your casually restocking your materials. The summer, I feel, is the best time to get materials and all of them without seeing an empty slot in the stock. The shelves always appear full.

Walking Hand in Hand-

It only makes sense that the fly fisherperson will eventually pick up the side sport of tying. They ultimately work "hand in hand" with one another. Eventually you will find yourself at the fly bin seeing an empty size 14 PT Cruiser bin saying to yourself "D*()&^!, I knew I shoulda been up here earlier this week!" and then ask the staff when they will be getting them in. The response will be a coy one, something along the lines of "A guy just bought the last six, about an hour ago! I'll order them tomorrow should take about a week to get here!" Now that you have begun your vacation and were wanting to spend the week fishing knowing that was the hot fly.

Is It Worth It?

How soon do you wish to be divorced? You may find yourself asking that question. Where ever you decide to permeate youself, your vice, and ultimately your matials, they will find they're way into every nook and cranny of the selected space. Your spouse will no longer service the room and frequently gripe about your new found hobby.

Your animal, should you have one, will decide that a $100 cape will be his or her new chew toy and will make quick work of it, further distributing matierials througout your home. Your spouse, will inevitably hate you for days as he/she, finds remnants of a deceased animal in his or her bed, promptly under his or her pillow! This will probably earn you a one way ticket to the animals crate, where you will find yourself sleeping!

However, and on a brighter note. You won't find yourself re-tying that darned parachute adams as the light fades out over the mountains side while getting in that one last cast!

Finally, I will never leave my vice/vise, yes pun intended, so long as I fly fish. It truely makes me happy and helps me unwind from a long week of work and better prepares me to meet Mr. Trout the next time I'm on the stream.

Tight Bobbins Guys,
~Brett Romer

04-13-2009, 09:01 AM
Well said Brett!!
I too enjoy catching a fish on a fly I tied. Learing something new to tie, or a technique is great for keeping my interest. I also find myself not concentrating so hard on only fishing. Sitting and watching the bugs and the water just to see if I spot something new.

David Knapp
04-13-2009, 12:59 PM
Couldn't have said it better myself Brett! You should post that on your blog...really good stuff there. I like your point about the confidence and quality of your own flies. My flies are generally almost bomb proof. When in doubt, I always add a little fleximent or head cement. Also, I KNOW they catch fish and will fish them a little harder and a little more thoroughly than I will other flies...

04-13-2009, 04:10 PM
Thanks David, I was fearing that. I knew if I cut and pasted that content I would likely spell check it! You just made me realize how pitifully I spell! Before I post to the ol blog I always spell check! I'm blushing at my grammatical errors right now!

Oh well! It's posted!