Why are flies so expensive?
Commercial flies are so expensive simply because there are many layers of costs added on. First, the tier, the distributor, and finally the store themselves need to make a profit.
Shops, at least good ones. Also usually sell flies of reasonable to good quality, using premium hooks. These do have a slightly higher cost than flies tied on unbranded hooks.
But, the main reason flies are the price they are is because enough people are willing to pay that. Buying flies from a local store is simply a very convenient and quick way to fill a few gaps in a fly box.
How to buy flies cheaply?
Many of us buy our first few flies from a dedicated retail store, this works out to be a rather expensive way to buy them. Especially if we are buying them individually.
Buying in bulk, usually a dozen at a time can result in considerable savings.
Buying in bulk from various online sources are usually cheaper again. Although there is no guarantee the quality will be the same.
Sometimes, if you have the right contacts, it is possible to buy directly from local tyers. This is not always cheaper than buying the cheapest online sources, but you can potentially get much better quality flies for around the same price as you will expect to pay from a local fly shop.
Which flies should I tie myself?
I personally purchase most of my trout fishing flies, the more fiddly, and complicated the more likely I am to buy. While, I generally tie larger flies, such as big streamers myself. I find large flies are quicker and easier to tie than tiny ones, but they generally retail for more.
Are home tied flies better than commercial flies?
The advantage of tying your own flies is that you can customize them to best represents your local conditions and insects life. Such as if you want your nymphs to sink slightly faster, than you cans imply add some extra weight or a slightly larger beards.
One thing I have noticed is that many commercial flies are quite bulky. It seems like they use a lot of material, but sometimes very minimally dressed flies work better. Tying your own gives plenty of flexibility.
What are some good starter kits for fly tying?
In general, I have not had good experiences with starter kits. The quality of the tools and vises can be lacking. I personally recommend saving a little extra and buying the tools and vise separately.
What equipment do I need for fly tying?
To start fly tying, you need a vise to securely hold the hook in place. The vise I recommend is the Griffin Odyssey Spider Fly Tying Vise. This vise is high quality and is unlikely to break or give any issues. It is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty. It can usually be found for under $100
Then you need a selection of other tools, luckily there is several high quality sets of tools currently on the market. My favorite is the Dr Slick Fly Tying Tool Gift Set. It contains all of the essentials, are the tools are made to a high standard.
The Loons Core Fly Tying Kit is a great alternative.
Where to buy fly tying material?
Local fly stores often stock a large selection of specialized fly tying gear, but it is often quite expensive for relatively little amounts of material.
I know a lot of fly tyers who buy a lot of their fly tying material from local crafting stores. Buying in bulk from a craft store usually works out to be significantly cheaper in the long run.
How to save money when fly tying?
Fly tying is a hobby in its own right, many tires are probably not saving significant amounts of money. If they factor in their time, they are certainly working for only a few dollars per hour.
But there are ways to save money, the most important is to buy in bulk. Then set up a production line and tye 10 or 20 of the same pattern in a row. This is a lot more time efficient than only tying one or two and then changing to a different pattern.
The more different patterns you tye, the more different materials you need to buy.
I personally, only tie patterns that are expensive to buy.