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Should I Tie My Own Flies?

Fly fishing is an immersive experience. Any type of fishing requires skill, luck, and patience, but fly-fishing is a unique form of angling that requires listening to local surroundings to get the best fish. The fly-fishing experience involves reading the water, checking the hatch, and using the right fly.

If you’ve been out on the water a few times and gotten the basics down, can you learn more? For the most authentic fly-fishing adventure you can learn to tie your own flies. Tying your own flies is both a great hobby and a practical way to get fishing – but it’s not for everybody. Let’s learn the pros and cons of tying your own flies so you know what’s right for you.

Advantages of Tying Your Own Flies


Fly fishing is one of the most emotionally-satisfying hobbies out there. It takes time and effort to get your rod and reel ready, hit the banks, pick out the perfect fly, and land a fish – but boy does it feel good. Now imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel when you land that beautiful rainbow trout with a fly you tied yourself? Fly fishing helps connect us to the land and water but tying your own flies connects you to the sport and art of fly fishing. If you want the most authentic fly-fishing experience, you should tie your own flies.

Fun Hobby

Here’s a little secret, hundreds of fly-tiers’ flies will never touch the water. Tying your own flies to fish is one reason to try it out, but many take up fly-tying as a hobby only. A carefully-tied fly made up of intricate feathers and details is work of art in itself and a great way to pass the time, no one said you must use it. Try tying your own flies to see if you like it as a hobby and not only a practicality.

Disadvantages of Tying Your Own Flies


Fly fishing is an economical hobby if you spend your money right but tying your own flies is surprisingly not the most economical option. You will need to invest in initial equipment like a vice and fly materials which can set you back a few hundred dollars compared to a couple bucks per store-bought fly. You may save money after the initial investment but tying your own flies is only economical if you tie a high-volume or sell them to your buddies. If you’re looking to save money on fly-fishing, tying your own flies is not a practical way to do it.


Some flies take a few minutes to tie but many take several hours. If you’re relying on your own flies for fishing it may take you literal days of tying to get enough for one trip. Like many hobbies fly-tying requires a substantial time investment to get where you want to be. If you don’t’ have the time, store-bought flies work just fine.


There are several beginner flies that a 12-year-old could tie but fly-tying can also be complex and mentally-taxing. You may find a fly that’s perfect for your next fishing adventure but after three hours at the bench you’re nowhere close to finishing it and the trip’s tomorrow. The more practice you have the easier tying will be, but beginners can get frustrated on the complexity and headaches some flies require. Be prepared for a steep learning curve when learning to tie your own.

Resources for Tying Your Own Flies

Local Fly Shop

Many fly shops tie their own flies and give lessons. A local fly shop is more than a retail store, it’s a local fishing resource where you can learn about local fishing destinations, what the fish are doing, what’s best to target, and how to tie your own flies. Call your local shop to see what lessons they have and when. Most basic lessons cost just a few bucks with more advanced lessons costing more. The local fly shop is the best option for direct, hands-on learning.

Community Centers

Not many people realize their local community centers teach several hobby-oriented classes and could have free or cheap fly-tying lessons. If your community is close to fly-fishing spots look up their calendar and see if there are any fly-tying lessons.

Online Videos

You can use sites like YouTube to learn just about anything and that includes tying your own flies. There are many unique video channels that discuss the basics of gathering materials, getting your own setup, and how to execute a proper fly. YouTube is a great resource but there are several other online resources that teach at different paces or concentrate on specific types of flies. You simply need to find the instruction that works for you.

Tie Your Fly and Hit the Water

If you want to immerse yourself in the world of fly-fishing the most practical way to do it is by tying your own flies. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of tying your own and weigh it against your individual time and resources to figure out the best way to go. For many fly-fishers tying their own flies is the most authentic way to enjoy the sport.