Fly tying is the process of binding various materials to a hook with a thread to create an artificial fly, which is then used by anglers to attract and catch fish via fly fishing. Fly tying and fly fishing go hand and hand and if you fly fish, it’s a good idea to get into fly tying. You might try to argue that there’s no need to go through the hassle of tying flies when you can go buy some at a store. It is harder and more of a hassle (some would call it fun or relaxing) to tie your own flies compared to buying pre-tied flies, and when you buy fly tying materials, they will be right next to completed flies, but resist the temptation as there are far more benefits to tying your own flies then buying them.
One of the major benefits is quality. Fly tying is a challenge but it’s not impossible and like everything else it gets easier with practice, and after some practice you will be able to tie flies much better than the ones you pay for. Though flies are expensive when bought from a store, you typically are not paying for quality. It’s always frustrating when you spend a few dollars on a pack of two flies and when you open the pack and try to tie the fly to your leader; you find the sloppy tier has wrapped the thread around the eyelet of the hook covering it and preventing the leader from being threaded through. Almost all of the flies I have purchased from a name brand fishing company have been under quality. The flies that are tied by someone working for the store or someone selling some flies to a store trying to make some extra cash are usually better quality, but still not as good as what you could do yourself. You have to think, the faster they tie the flies, the more money they make and since their fly tying is for profit and someone else, the quality is likely to suffer. Think about it for a second. The more flies that individual ties per hour the more money they make per hour. If they tie 5 flies per hour and sell them to a store for $.50 then they make $2.50 an hour but if they tie 20 flies per hour then they make $10.00 an hour.
Another benefit is the control and creation part of it. If you buy flies you are limited by what’s available at the store. If you tie your own you’re only limited by your skill and imagination. You can always increase your skill, but you can’t magically make a specific fly appear at the store. Size can really make all the difference when it comes to catching fish. I was once fly fishing for arctic grayling, and the hook size determined whether or not we caught any fish. We observed them actively feeding on mosquitoes once we hiked to the lake so we obviously tied mosquito flies to our line. They struck eagerly but the flies we were using were too big and the hooks weren’t setting. We switched to smaller flies and caught fish for four hours straight. There was multiple times where we each had a fish on our line, but if we didn’t have a variety of different sized mosquitoes with us our success would not have been as good. You can also experiment with common patterns and change them a bit, add a little extra material, maybe some different color combos.
The last benefit I’m going to talk about is the money side of it. Tying your own flies can be cheaper than buying your own flies but only if you tie a lot of flies. Sometimes the material can be expensive and sometimes its free, but after you buy the material, each fly tied with that material becomes cheaper and cheaper. If you spend 20 bucks for material and tie one fly, then you just tied a 20 dollar fly but if you can tie 40 flies with that same material without running out, then each fly only costs 50 cents. Every time you buy a fly, it’s going to cost the same. A situation could also arise where you’re ready to go fishing, but have no money for flies, but you already have the material on hand so all you have to do is tie some up and hit the water.
I could probably go on and on about why I and many others feel that tying your own flies is more beneficial than buying flies, but in the end it’s really going to have to be your call. If you’re on the fence about it, why not take a fly tying class. You’ll be walked through the steps of tying a fly with someone there to help in case you get lost. Trying to do it all on your own without any prior knowledge could leave a bitter taste in your mouth about tying flies. My first exposure to tying was in a class and I’m glad I did it that way instead of on my own. Whichever route you choose, be patient, have fun, don’t get discouraged and good luck in water.