How Much Does it Take to Start Tying Flies?

Once I started tying, I gained a better idea of what I was imitating, realized that flies aren’t really worth $2.75 a piece, and didn’t worry as much about casting into a tough spot, even if it meant losing a fly. Now that I have 15 to 20 years of fly tying experience under my belt, I feel like I can accurately tie a fly to imitate any insect I want, whip out more realistic flies (the most fun type to tie by the way) and I know that my catch rates have went way up since I started tying. Every fly fisher should try tying at some point.

But the problem is, a lot of people don’t want to spend the money to get into fly tying. And if this is you, I don’t blame you. With some vices reaching $700, and a single neck of chicken feathers at over $100, it can get costly. But because I think that everyone should try fly tying at some point, I asked myself the question “What’s the least you can spend to get into the world of fly tying?”. I assembled a small list of tools, and some materials. Almost all of the tools are from eBay, because quite simply, the cheapest prices are there. Everything is “By It Now” so you don’t have to mess around with bidding. Now don’t expect these tools to be the most high quality (they’re pretty far from that), but they will work fine if you are a beginner, or just need some replacements and aren’t looking to spend much at all.

Highest shipping price is counted in the cost, because they combine shipping. For example, if you buy a vise you have to pay $5 of shipping, but then if you buy anything else from that seller, I didn’t count the shipping because it would be combined.

A Vise – Here’s one for $15

Other Tools – Here’s a pair of scissors, a bobbin, a whip finisher, hackle pliers, a bobbin threader, dubbing twister, and bodkin. Normally I hate kits, of any kind when it comes to fly tying. I would say that of all these tools, you will be fine with just the scissors, bobbin, and whip finisher. But for $12 it is the same price as these three tools will cost you. Since shipping is combined with the vise, it’s a good deal.

Okay, brief interjection here… These are the all the tools you need to start tying for $27, including shipping. A kit everywhere else will be more than this, and when you factor in the shipping, it will be even more.

Now there are a lot of materials you can use to tie a lot of different flies. But no matter what you tie you will need hooks… I buy all my hooks from an eBay seller called HardyDeluxe. Tons of hooks in all sizes for very cheap.

So because everyone uses different patterns, I’m not going to suggest a list of materials. If you have just a couple patterns you want, I’m positive that once you get thread, some hooks and some wire, you can get all the materials you need to tie a bunch of them for under $10. Just get your hooks from HardyDeluxe and other materials from TheFlyTier (another eBay store). Here’s an example…

50 Size 18 Scud Hooks ($2.89) + Black Thread ($1.70) + 50 Silver Beads ($1.95) + Silver Wire ($2.08) + Shipping ($7.93) = $16.55

Yes, $16 is more than the $10 I mentioned, but it includes thread and wire, two things that will last you hundreds of flies. And 16.55 divided by 50 (the number of flies these materials will allow you to tie) is about thirty cents a fly. That’s about $2 less than your typical fly shop charges. $100 worth of flies for $17. If you double the order of hooks and beads, you don’t have to pay for extra shipping or thread or wire, so you can get your cost per fly down to about 20 cents a fly. By tripling your order of hooks and beads you can turn it to 17 cents a fly. You get the idea.

I don’t tie to save money but as you can see, it’s definitely not hard to. Get some thread, wire, beads, and hooks, and you can tie anything. You also may have noticed that everything here comes from eBay. Well, that’s because I believe eBay is the cheapest price you’ll find for individual materials. However, these prices will often be beat by your local fly shop. If you’re near the Evening Sun Fly Shop, Charlie has a ton of materials there for way cheaper than anywhere else. Shop local before you shop online.

So as a parting thought, How much does it cost to get into fly tying? You can get your tools for $27 , some thread and necessities for about $10, and then materials for the patterns you want to tie for another $10. I honestly believe that if you really don’t want to spend any money on it, or are a kid who just can’t afford to start tying, you can get everything you need to get into the world of fly tying for under $45. And that includes enough materials to tie a few hundred dollars worth of flies!


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