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Old 02-18-2009, 10:56 AM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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Default Bad Investment Financially

Originally Posted by Grannyknot View Post
What if you only bought the tools and materials to tie midges?

Seems like at $1.50-2 a pop, you could save money on those. Maybe not.
It depends on how many you want to tie and how much your time is worth. If you are only trying to save money tying just midges, I'll break it down for you. I'll assume bead head zebra midges for cost comparison. Amounts are approximate.

Tools (minimum):
Vise $160-190 (you could get a cheaper one, but you'd regret it, especially tying smaller flies - I'll use $160 for comparison)
Scissors $15 (for $20 you could get some nicer ones)
Whip Finisher $12
Bobbin $7 (for a few bucks more you could get a better one, as well)

semi fixed costs
Thread $2 per spool x number of colors (we'll say 3 for comparison)
Wire $2 per spool x number of colors (we'll say 2)
variable costs
Hooks $5 per package of 25 ($0.20 per hook)
Beads $4 per package of 16 ($0.25 per bead)

So to get started (not including variable cost) you would need $204 to purchase the tools and fixed cost materials (which aren't really fixed, but are low cost enough and ties enough flies that I'll treat them as such). Then for every fly that you would tie it would also cost you $0.45 in hooks and beads.

With a $160 vise:
To tie 100 flies would cost you $249 (minimum) - $2.49 per fly
To tie 200 flies would cost you $294 - $1.47 per fly
To tie 300 flies would cost you $339 - $1.13 per fly

With a $190 vise:
To tie 100 flies would cost you $279 (minimum) - $2.79 per fly
To tie 200 flies would cost you $324 - $1.62 per fly
To tie 300 flies would cost you $369 - $1.23 per fly

Obviously the more you tie the lower the per fly cost will be. And if you can find a good used vise on the inexpensive side you could make it even fewer flies to the break-even point.

If you are only in it to save money, then you have to ask yourself the more important question: How much is my time worth? Assuming you can quickly get to the point where you tie a zebra midge in 5 minutes, it will take you about 17 hours to complete 200 of them. The reality is that once you break-even on your tools, you could be saving about $1 per fly (or about $10-$12/hr). It can be pretty tedious work if you don't enjoy it, is it worth it financially?

If you do it, don't do it to save money. It will seem too much like work and won't be worth the investment. If you want to do it for many of the other reasons everyone is jumping in and espousing, then by all means take the plunge and join the fun!

"Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut."
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:15 PM
Byron Begley Byron Begley is offline
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I would agree with everything that has been said. I tie bass, bluegill and saltwater flies now. I used to tie trout flies but I started buying them a few years ago. I give away more flies than I use.

But here is an interesting statistic and it has held true for years. I can run a report anytime from our customer database and it always comes out the same. One third of our customers buy fly tying materials and two thirds don't.

I think you have to enjoy preparing to go, creating your own fly that works and enjoy sitting and doing something with your hands. I like doing all three. Also, I tie and use some flies that can't be bought. I didn't invent them, they were shown to me.

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Old 02-18-2009, 12:24 PM
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flyred06 flyred06 is offline
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I agree totally with Byron. I like saltwater fishing and striper fishing. That is why I started tying. The companies quit making the flies we used and we had to start tying to have them. One local guy started tying for a small shop we have hear and they are selling those flies for around 5.50 apiece. I can tie them up for around $2.00 apiece. Truthfully I like his better but I tie mine to stay in practice so if he stops I will still have flies. I also tie up my own clousers for the reason I have a color pattern that I like that can not be purchased anywhere, in that case I can say it is very valuable for me to tie. But once again it is what you are looking for. I love to tie and think about the trip coming and just where I will be using each fly and if it works out that way then there is no price tag that can hold the amount of value of the accomplishment. All the time, cost and anticipation was well worth it.
Romans 10:9-10 KJV
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:37 PM
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milligan trout degree milligan trout degree is offline
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I admit I don't save any money tying my own, but thats because I've bought a lot of stuff I dont really need. Petecz seems to by the higher quality materials than I do. Here's my breakdown.

I've used a hand-me-down thompson vice which serves me well tying zebra midges. Keep in mind I dont tie below a sz 22. The vice if bought new is about $20. add tax $22. A lot of times someone will offer an old one they aren't using anymore if you post around some. I buy daicki or diariki hooks in the fifty pack for 6.30. Black thread cost 1.50 something os we'll say two dollars. Copper wire or silver wire is about the same, we'll say a little more and go $3. Beads I buy the 25 pack for 2.99 so we'll just bump that to three dollars.you'll need two packs for fifty hooks. I'll use the same standards for bobbins, hooks, whip finish (optional), and scissors.

scissors 15
bobbin 7
whip finish 12
hooks 7
beads 7
thread 2
wire 3
total 53 for first fifty flies. A little over a dollar a fly. The next fifty will only need new hooks and beads which means you're paying 14 for fifty flies for a long time because the thread and wire will last a really long time. This means you're paying 28 cents for each fly.

This is a very simple example however. Given you're only tying one type of fly, but you can use the model for each additional fly you tie. For another three dollars you can silver wire, another two you can add new thread. And you're only tying in one size right now. Keep in mind you can buy 100 pk mustads for about $8 as well.

Just a thought. Chances are you'll end up wanting to tie all sorts of flies and before long you will have to tie up a lot of flie to break even, but its worth it to me, just part of it. Plus having a lot of materials opens the doors to creative ideas.
"I've got to stop wishin, I've got to go fishin"
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:59 PM
jross jross is offline
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milligan you're speaking my language now. Once Pete mention a triple digit price, I was outta that conversation! I'm so cheap I tied some streamers for bass one year using vice grips and a bench top vise!
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Old 02-18-2009, 06:57 PM
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fly fisherman DK fly fisherman DK is offline
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A few years ago my uncle got me the fly tying kit for trout that is sold at Bass Pro Shops and it was the greatest thing ever! It has enough stuff to get you started and even a little bit more. Also, it comes with a dvd showing you how to tie some very popular flies. If you decide to get this kit it is called the White River fly shop fly tying kit for trout. I hope this information is helpful.

fly fisherman DK
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Old 02-18-2009, 10:40 PM
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flyred06 flyred06 is offline
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The book that I suggested earlier in the thread is actually called good flies not small flies by John Gierach. Sorry for the confussion. Since this thread has started I have been back tying flies. I have more flies than I will use in the next 3 years unless I start fishing different flies. And I will.
Romans 10:9-10 KJV
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:30 PM
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Stonefly Stonefly is offline
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Default ...Small Flies

The two "small flies" books are by Ed Engle, another of Gierach's buddies.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, unless they fly fish... with apologies to Thoreau
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:44 PM
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BlueRaiderFan BlueRaiderFan is offline
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I have an $89 "Spider Vice" that works pretty well. Of course, I am a novice tier, but it seems to be fairly sturdy. Orvis has a new vice for about that much that looks good. If you can get a list of flies together that you want to tie before you buy materials, you can save a lot of trips and extra money on wasted material. If I could start over, I would pick 4 dries and 4 wets that I wanted to tie and ask the outfitter for the materials for those in 2 different sizes. You would have everything to tie those and probably a few others that you don't know about yet. I do tie to save a bit of cash, but I also realize that it will take years to make up the difference and you have to enjoy it. I finally got my tie right on "Doc's Cork" the other night and man was it satisfying. One good thing; This board has a lot of nice people with a LOT of knowledge that they are willing to share. Another good thing; LRO doesn't charge shipping! I don't even have to leave my couch, which is right next to my tying station AKA the coffee table.
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Old 02-19-2009, 06:41 PM
roberts618 roberts618 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: MI and TN
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Smile Fly Tying - Good or Bad Investment?


I have been fly fishing for about five years and have come down the fishing learning curve in that time. I just started tying this past fall via a four week lesson by a local veteran tyer.

I have found the tying hobby addictive as well as the next logical extension of the sport of fly fishing for me. I have been given, purchased and collected a small four drawer chest of stuff in six months. I first started with a very cheap vise to learn what I like wanted in a better vise. I now have a HMH Spartan rotary vise that I really like.

I live in MI most of the year so fly tying connects me to my sport and lets me dream of the fish I am going to catch with this fly and that fly. Tying also makes one a better student of what fish will eat or are attracted to, I believe.

There is probably no way to justify tying as a financial investment. If you are trying to do this, you had better first start with the cost per pound of all the fish you have caught and ate. For me that is infinity since I am a catch and release fisher.

In summary, fly tying is the next logical extension of fly flishing. And if your wife is a crafter like mine, you now will share something in common. My advice, try fly tying and you will probably enjoy it beyond your wildest dreams!
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