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At The Vise: Why we tie our own flies

Asking several amateur tyers why they tie doesn’t seem to produce a singular “because” reply. So, we’ll just leave it that it means different things to different people.

Not high on my list is that it saves money. But, I don’t fish 200 or more days a year and burn through dozens of flies a week. I’m also a bit on the disorganized side and a willful purchaser of fly tying anything at any fly shop I visit. I don’t think an audit team from either of the big four accounting firms could determine a P & L statement for me.

Bob Popovics from Seaside Park, New Jersey is innovation at its best. Anyone spending ten minutes with Popovics comes away with at least one new fly tying tip. His book, Pop Fleyes is already a classic. Image credit Skip Clement.

I don’t know how many flies I’ve tied, caught fish with, wore out, still have; donated to the forest, coral outcropping, mangrove, rhododendron or just gifted to a fellow angler? I don’t know the value of my materials inventory (some items predate the turn of the century) or how much I have used – beats me?

So, for a guy who fishes maybe 50 days a year and ties more than he’ll ever use, like two dozen or so 6- and 8-inch long sailfish flies that will never see the salt – I doubt I can save money. Too, materials are no longer cheap. Some exotic “feathers” require a payment system. Weird s*&t, like hollow white hair off the neck of a Patagonian mole that only grows during mating season. Wha?

So what the heck are the advantages of tying your flies?

Well, if you’re more practical and organized than me, you could save both time and money tying your flies. If you fish home waters, you’ll know what patterns to tie for redfish, snook, trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, stripers . . . And so on. In that scenario, your inventory can be purchased at bulk discounts, and you can wait for sales and realize financial advantages to tying.

April Vokey is a talented fly-fishing entrepreneur from Chilliwack, British Columbia. She says she is just another fishing guide who gives seminars at trade shows, teaches fly-tying classes and casting clinics and leads trips to exotic destinations. In fly fishing, there are no fake stars – Vokey is a star. Image credit By Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review.

Getting flies at the fly shop or online

A trip to the fly shop can cause craving, buy more “stuff” than intended. That trip could also be for naught. For example, they’re out of the size and colors you want. They won’t have any until next week, or worse, they don’t stock them anymore.

Online, beware. Our editor got stung badly a few years ago by an African tyer. However, there are plenty of very reliable sources online, but that can require a little guessing because some online images are not that good.

The temporal benefits seem to be the most satisfying

1. Just completed a fly box full of flies for a bonefishing trip.
2. Knowing that your flies are well tied and won’t come apart.
3. Creating a new pattern.
4. Catching fish on the flies you tied.
5. A smartly tied fly always makes for an ‘oh wow’ gift. Think ladies brooch or any hat band.
6. The coup de grâce of satisfaction – you’re catching fish and your friend none. Then, he humbly asks, “Hey, buddy, can you spare one of those?”

NOTE: Featured Image credit Wollaston Lake Lodge.

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