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Captain Andrew Derr with client’s fly caught striper using synthetic fly tying materials.

What about using craft store and dollar type store items instead of more expensive fly fishing industry-supplied tying materials and supplies?

Fly fishing hooks, dubbing, feathers, beads, cones, tools, and more can be substituted and save a lot of money; if you know what you’re doing.

NOTE 1: Industry supplied tying materials are much better than substitute materials mentioned here.

By Skip Clement

A look through my horde of substitute fly-tying materials from chain drug stores, Dollar Stores, Walmart, Home Depot/Lowes stores, craft stores, and auto parts stores produced the listings below.

NOTE 2: Acquiring the items listed below will involve visiting Walmart, Dollar Store [several iterations thereof], Lowes or Home Depot, Michaels and JOANN fabric craft stores, and Ulta Body or Sally Beauty stores. The best sources mentioned above are Dollar type stores, craft stores, and Walmart.

Bonefish image from Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT Director of Science & Conservation, paper on Bonefish and Tides (photos: Justin Lewis, BTT Bahamas Initiative Manager). Probably the most famous bonefish fly ever was tied using rug clippings. It was called Crazy Charlie and tied by the most famous bonefish fly fishing guide at the time in the Bahamas, Charlie Smith in 1977, and popularized by San Francisco angler Bob Nauheim.

The stash

Craft furs
Bags of marabou feathers in many colors
Peacock feathers
Beads: plastic, and glass
Poppers: soft plastic ear protection buds and cheap foam sandals
Thin foam sheets [beetles, ants, dragonflies] Seat cushions [walmart]

Chenille mop noodles – a lifetime supply for a few bucks. Mop heads, single strand ‘noodles’ of many colors [Mop Flies]. 

Epoxies – craft stores, others
Paints – craft stores, others
Dubbing – carpet scraps
Yarn – many colors [chenille], Scrubby Sparkle.
Fly hooks – Walmart
Pipe Cleaners
Balloons used for shellbacks/scud patterns, shrimp carapaces
Squirmy Wormy toys – baitfish [dollar type stores
Wigs, synthetic fibers, Kaneklon hair [available salon stores] Plastic gift wraps that come in metallic, pearly, or transparent finishes.
Permanent sharpie markers
Envelope windows: transparent wings, wing cases, and shellbacks on
nymphs or scuds.
Paintbrush fibers
Quilting and Macramé spooled threads are good alternatives to
conventional tying threads.
Monofilament [clear] thread
Wire spools for ribbing or bite guard [craft store item] Fly and hook boxes use pill reminder boxes. They come in various sizes.

NOTE 3: Featured Image fly fishermen in Margaree River, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. ASA photo credit.

“A Traditional White Crazy Charlie Bonefish Fly” by Mike Cline – a commons image.


Author Skip

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