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Something in between for me. Once I get set up and tying, there’s a rhythm to it and tying becomes more enjoyable. Overcoming the inertia from a long layoff is difficult.

I like fishing my own ties, at least in the saltwater, so if I’m going to fly fish, tying is a necessary evil. I basically run out of certain patterns and then when I’m fishing I wish I had this one or that spurring me to the vise.

What’s your experience with tying?
I didn't like having to rely on buying flies, especially after I figured out how many I was going to lose to fish, trees, grass, underwater limbs.....
I usually bought an assortment, and there were always a few I had no confidence in, and wouldn't use.
Of course, once I started rolling my own, I had bags and bags of flies to choose from (I kept them in quart or snack-sized zippie bags for ease of transport. A couple of bags, my lanyard and my fly rod, and I'm good to go!), and still had flies I had no confidence in and wouldn't fish, lol.
I enjoy tying. I must. I have enough from 10 years of tying to last a lifetime, lol. I'm not fast, I don't tie dozens of each pattern, and I don't tie perfect flies. I've made peace with myself over this.
My typical tying session:
The first 3 usually look pretty much the same, except for refinements of technique.
The 4th one, I forget the ribbing.
The 5th one, I change the color of the dubbing, just to see what it looks like.
The 6th one, well the changed dubbing looked, OK, but let's use THIS dubbing, and change to THIS hackle. Looks good!
7th one, oh wait, I'm supposed to be tying XYZ. Let's go back to that, except with the new hackle.....
I rarely make it past the 8th fly. Something else will grab my attention.

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I can relate to pretty much everything stated. I have confidence patterns that I tie well enough, catch fish pretty reliably and I will circle back to those time and again. Then, I go off on tangents to “improve” a pattern. Change some material, the hook, add this, subtract that. I did five or so shrimp recently, similar to a previous one I did that had worked, but I wanted a better hook and a more simplified tying deal. Turns out the hook chosen and the omitted glass rattle unbalanced the fly and made it swim upside down. I’ve got a fix in mind, but I wish I swam tested the pattern after the first experimental version. Sometimes, there are rabbit holes that lead to nowhere.

My current primary saltwater box. Some like the borski sliders and redfish crack are permanent fixtures. Others come and go with hunches or just more enjoyment tying and or fishing them. Not much is set in stone. Organization is a struggle for me. I have a secondary box that comes along. Some outing or periods, I barely bring 30 flies. This is a lot for me to have aboard. I have more flies that stay at home as a reserve, when I’m being active at the vise.

I might use 2 on an outing, or it could be 6. I can’t ever remember using double digits on one outing, but it might have happened.
I really do enjoy tying.
To me it’s part of the fun of fly fishing, making your own baits.

I understand the inertia of getting started sometimes though, and finding the time to do it consistently can be a problem. You can get rusty in between if it’s to long.

But for me it’s relaxing.
Find some free time, get your favorite libation, put on a flying fishing podcast or a favorite album, it’s a good escape.

Though now days I try not to tie just for the sake of tying. I’ll tie what I need for the short term, for the next couple of trips.
I don’t like to get to far ahead of myself, end up tying a bunch of flies I might not use. Best to tie up a few of the different patterns you need for your current conditions. As the seasons and conditions change I’ll use different flies in different colors.

Some years back ( and still sometimes) I’d just pump out a bunch of flies, all kind of variations, experimenting. You end up with a bunch of flies that you can’t possibly use or don’t work as well.
But that is how you learn what works and what doesn’t, and it’s good practice of different techniques.

Over the years I have learned to kind of stick with proven recipes and thoughtfully tweak them to suit my needs. There’s a reason the popular flies are popular, they work.

I usually try learning a couple of new patterns a year to keep from getting board, and if they are proven I’ll probably catch with it it. Good to keep the fish on there toes too.

With that said, I do have “my patterns” that are products of trial and error variations and hybrids of other patterns. And they work well.

So yes, I like tying flies.
My buddy Mick spent $1500 the first day he bought fly tying supplies.
After he filled his first fly box, he was proud of the fact that each fly only cost him $115 and odd change.
He used to tie in the pool house and hide his growing 100+ fly rod collection there, as well. (that was before I twisted him to try cane rods).
Of course he has more filled fly boxes he'll never open again than rod tubes he'll never open again.

Some people tie for entertainment, and possibly to quash a latent OCD tendency.. . (noteworthy, Mick is a phychologist).
I tie hand-to-mouth, and have for 40 years. I tie whatever flies I'm going to need for tomorrow.
I'm down to only needing 4 patterns in the salt, 3 in warmwater, and six in coldwater.

Especially with cats whisker, the meager menu has racked well over 100 fish species.

Last edited by Ron Mc on Sun Nov 21, 2021 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
When I feel the need to catch a nice dinner with a home tied lure I will gravitate to my vice and basically think of where, when, and what pattern I feel I will need and then tie a few in alternate colors and flash or glitter depending on what I think may help me attain my goal.
Always fun to catch them and report for others to enjoy like you do.
Thanks for the great thread and post. :clap:
I like being able to customize. With 3 young children at home now, it makes it hard to find the time to tie though.

Also when you look at flies at the store, you can get sticker shock (I.E. $15 for deer hair diver or popper) so you buy the supplies and sit down to tie it. Now after you see everything involved you understand the price :D

For me it's the enjoyment of being able to do what I want with the pattern and then look back and say I caught that fish with something I created.
I don’t know how a commercial tier would make it in the USA. You’d have to be extra fast and/or charge a big premium and/or have other synergistic things going on, like shows, lectures, demonstrations, etc. A commercial tyer is supposed to pay 10% to the federal government as an excise tax on top of everything else. Maybe if your living expenses were super low and you had a ton of time on your hands.

Seems like I did the math on redfish crack once and it was around 70-75 cents per fly to tie, materials only. Buying in bulk would lower costs. Knowing hunters or being one yourself can help get some great “free” material. I find great feathers in the yard, but only birds that can be legally harvested are kosher as far as the feds are concerned. We have yellow crowned night herons nest in the trees and those birds shed great marabou. So do the barred owls. I have used wild turkey marabou and a variety of duck flanks. This thing about preserving skins is unattractive to me. Grab a hunk of flank feathers, pull them out, put in zip bag, done.

My idea with deer body/belly hair is to cut the hide in tying session sized squares and then freeze those. Take them out of the freezer as needed, tie your flies, discard the skin. None of this skin tanning process to mess with. Or, as an alternative, get some sort of press or improvised device to hold the hair inline and then store it that way.
One thing about Matt, If bought flies from him you knew he tied them. He has some proven patterns for sure.

Matter of fact I was throwing a Lunch Money all day yesterday on the river.
Though it was one that I tied, since I do like to tie.
It’s fun to watch his sbs videos. Tips and tricks, like the way he spins that bobbin to tie stuff in.

Most of the commercial and signature tyers have online or physical fly shops and/or guide services.
Cheech Pierce with Flyfishfood, the In the Riffle guys, Kelly Galloup, Charlie Crave, etc.
Even Jack Garside, though he has past, still has an online shop. I order my blood marabou from his shop to tie his Soft Hackle Streamer.

So they’re making money off me even though I don’t buy their flies.

And a lot of those guys aren’t tying the flies that are selling in the shops, they’re getting royalties from the big fly merchants.

ben_beyer - Flip is right, those are good proportions.
Is that a Half and half or regular Clouser? I think I see some feathers in there.
I haven’t tied a clouser in a coon’s age and don’t ever remember tying a half and half. I do remember the struggling with proportions on clousers way back when. Getting the length of the hair right. Positioning the dumbbell right, getting the right amount of material. Maybe that’s why I almost never fish a clouser although I still have a few around, I couldn’t consistently nail the proportions. If I fish them, I’ll lose them, wear them out, rust them out or maybe a fish would tear them up. Any way you slice it, I’d have to tie more and I really don’t want to go through clouser tying trauma again.
I love the creative aspect of tying and being able to drill down exactly what that fish wants on that particular day. I do think it makes you a better fly fisherman as you have a clearer understanding of how that fly behaves in the water and why. It is easy like any other hobby to go overboard and end up with dozens of packed fly boxes that you could never use up in two lifetimes of fishing. :roll:
I went through my fly boxes recently and purged some old, damaged or corroded ones, fixed a few that could be fixed and held on to too many that I’ll likely never fish. Some of my earlier ties are just atrocious looking at them now.

I do best tying patterns that don’t have to be super clean and neat to be effective. Some people turn out flies that look like a precision machine made them. Perfectly spun and trimmed deer hair where every copy looks virtually identical and perfect.

In most things, there’s almost always people that have developed talent way above the average bear. In tying ability, I’d put myself in the average bear category.

Lucky for me, fish are stupid and don’t demand perfect ties.

BTW, I hate crab flies. I’d say most inshore fly fishermen that fish for redfish and such use crab flies a bunch. I’ve tied and tried some, but hate tying them and fishing them. I don’t like hard flies. Epoxy types, again, those are very popular and fished a ton. I used to mess around with epoxy spoons, surf candy, epoxy shrimp, but decided I hate tying them, the mess of epoxy, how they tend to cast, especially the spoons so I refuse to tie or use them. Topwater fly stuff, not a fan in the saltwater. Too many missed fish or refusals. I don’t like missed fish. Too many times the fish didn’t see or perceive the fly or outright refusals. Here, let me put on something I know that will get the eat like a redfish crack or borski slider.

Everyone has a particular modus operandi when they fish. It’s interesting to watch someone approach fishing because we all have our own concepts about it. People might tend to get hung up on a particular lure or fly, but, in my experience, the presentation is vastly more important than anything else. I’ve seen this play out time and again when people are fishing the same fish on the same structure often side by side in the same boat, or wading close to each other, or side by side in separate kayaks.

I have seen seen the same exact lures being used on the same structure and on the same fish with vastly different results. How is that possible? Subtle differences in the presentation. Same exact fish and structure with vastly different lures and with same results of both slaying the fish. How is that possible, the presentation with each was appropriate.
As illustrated within this thread, fly tying is different things to different people. However, there is nothing evil, in any way, about the experience.

As a long retired, introvert, I have enjoyed tying as an addendum to my rod building and other 'piddling' activities. I am no longer fishing, having succumbed to the gentler, less physical activities associated with my mature age. Presently, my greatest enjoyment is gifting my 'products' to friends, family, and fellow fly fishermen and women. I am pleased that friends in New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana always ask for more of my #28's.

I have virtually no artistic abilities. Therefore, I cannot claim to tie perfectly balanced, intrinsically beautiful flies. Never-the-less, I can attest to the fact that they do catch fish.

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