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Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Your experiments and findings on tenkara fly-patterns and fly-tying.

Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby sandtrout » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:08 am

I'm new to fly fishing and new to the Tenkara style. I was checking out some of the flys at another Tenkara site that were $12 per half dozen....and as a retiree that's kind of pricey. I'm thinking it may be better to consider taking the plunge of buying the equipment and taking the free classes offered by a local Fly Fishing Club but am I looking at it realistically? Thanks for any comments.

Also, if you've learned how to tie flys...do you have the ability to just look at a fly and know how it was tied? Thanks again in advance for any replies.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby adventureR » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:20 am

sandtrout, this is a cheap hobby tying flies, but one can get carried away. For simple tying it's not bad. But in time with premium tools and supplies it can be expensive. I've stayed relatively cheap, and managed to make alot of flies the fish like. Here's my $45 vise. It was been good enough for all my tying. IMO there's no need to purchase top of the line unless you just like to make yourself feel good with expensive stuff. There's a wide range of products out there, and supplies to suit your needs.


I tied my first few flies by hand, then with a soldering station aligator clip, the flies worked on the fish, and it was great fun. But gear aside tying your own flies is as fun to me as the fishing itself. But combining the two is great and rewarding fun.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby Aaron Proffitt » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:52 am

What he said...you can be as detailed and fancy with it as you wish or very basic. Basic patterns catch fish,too.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby Anthony » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:35 am

Fly tying is an addiction! You can save money, but it's also easy to spend a lot on materials. :o You can keep it simple though too. You don't have to spend a lot to get started. It also depends on how often you fish. I fish often enough - and I fish with enough reckless abandon that I go through a lot of flies.

I would base a decision not on economics but on enjoyment. I would recommend anyone to start tying flies for the sheer enjoyment of tying them- and fishing with your own flies is the best. Plus you can tailor the flies to meet your wants and needs. The satisfaction that you get from tying your own is unbeatable. Catching fish on a fly that you "designed" is priceless.

I enjoy tying flies almost as much as I like fishing. When I can't get on the stream I can tie flies and think about fishing.

So I say go for it.

And yes - after you get the basics down you can look at a fly and figure it out usually - it may take a few tries, but you'll figure it out. I would wholeheartedly recommend Charlie Craven's book on fly tying - Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying: Modern Techniques for Flies That Catch Fish. It's not tenkara - but it will give you a very sound basis upon which you can build. Also his website, http://www.charliesflyboxinc.com/flybox/ has really good step by step tutorials - again not tenkara but they will give you very good pointers to develop your skills.
Last edited by Anthony on Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby adventureR » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:43 am

I've messed around with a few flies and mimicked the design of them. It can be done, looking at another fly and making it. I really like tring to make my own creations though. I too hope that you go for Dan, you'll find it a great hobby.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby Tenkara Elevated » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:51 am

To me there are always two types of flies for no matter the style you fly fish or species you fish for. You have your fancy almost realistic flies that surely work but take a lot of time and material and of course are expensive to tie. These type of flies are more for catching fly fishers then fish as they are truly artwork and cost as such. Then the second type are simple flies tied to catch fish only. What I mean by that if you were new to fly fishing you would not look at sawyer killer bug or a green weenie and say that is something I want to fish. Basic simple patterns are available for everything from fly fishing the flats to tenkara in a stream. I have been tying for many years and I have never said to myself wow I wish I had a more expensive and realistic fly. Fortunately I have been much to busy landing fish with my basic flies. I hope this made sense and people will get my meaning I am not putting down those who tie super realistic and expensive flies just saying personally I would much rather put those patterns on my wall as art.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby LANDSURFER » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:55 pm

I think fly tying could be a bit of a 'double edged sword'.
If your tying flies during the season your not fishing !
Maybe there should be a 'tying season' ..
Any flies tied without the 'season' would of course be banned from use in the water ...lol .. :)
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby albertyi » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:34 pm

If you're looking to start tying to study and appreciate another aspect of fly fishing and tenkara, and want to see what you can do in terms of innovation and skill-growing, then go for it. Otherwise, fly tying as an amateur is not really saving much money. You have startup overhead for tools (and like with almost anything else having to do with craftsmanship and precision, you mostly get what you pay for), consumable material costs (fur, feathers, wire, thread, etc), and then the "hourly wages" put into tying. Add a percentage of throwaway/scrape-with-a-razor-and-redo flies (we all have them), and all of a sudden fly-tying isn't as cheap as we first thought.

Not that I'm trying to discourage you from learning how to tie, but I want to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. You'll start to lust after vises that cost more than your rods, end up with enough fly tying materials to pass on to your grandchildren, and become a fly-tying-video youtube junkie who according to their search history seems to have an unhealthy interest in Davy McPhail. On the other hand, you'll learn what makes a good fly, and tie up custom flies for your own applications after making your own observations. You can customize your flies to your own personality, whether it be letting the fish judge your works of art or feeling smug to yourself that you fooled a big wily fish with just some yarn and wire on a hook.

As you can probably tell, I've already fallen deep into the rabbit hole... but I can tell you it's so far been a wonderful journey with much satisfaction in my craftsmanship of my flies and my growing understanding of fly design. It's also been the source of much poking fun from my friends as I'm spending more time on "arts and crafts" than my wife, but that's another story. :lol:

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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby dwalker » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:29 am


You don't necessarily have to use tenkara flies, you can purchase mass produced flies at your local, Dicks,Gander Mountain , Cablas etc at lower cost. And still catch fish.

otoh, the tenkara reverse hackle type flies are about as simple as they come, no need for the fancy vices with numerous attachments that make it easier to tie the fancier type flies. Check the market place on this forum, occasionally someone post a vice for sale that might fit your available funds.

There's always the Amano approach. Tying flies using the finger vice. i.e. hand held.
Just some hooks, some hackle, thread and a thread holder and head cement.

Or the Italian method. Very similar to the tenkara flies. Also hand held while being tied.

Not the easiest way but certainly the least expensive way. I've tied a few flies this way and its not hard to to do at all, actually its kind of fun to tie flies this way and has some advantage. ;)

Anyway, look through the threads in this section of the forum. Lots of discussion of options for tying vice and other tools for tying flies. Maybe you'll find something that fits your budget. It can be fun and I think the best advice is don't buy a low quality vise, get one of good quality but with out the fancy unneeded features that are not needed for tying tenkara flies but do drive up the cost.

Flies don't have to be works of art to catch fish. Some pretty ugly flies catch fish too.

Good luck.
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Re: Fly Tying...Is it worth the "leap"?

Postby Stan Wright » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:54 am

I find tying very relaxing.
And, there is nothing like the feeling of catching a fish on a fly they you tied yourself.
Go ahead and take the FREE classes... see what you think, and if you do decide to take the leap there are lots of inexpensive "Kits" available.
The flies I make are not pretty to look at... but the fish sure love them.
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