For many fly fishermen, the winter months are the best time to sit under a desk lamp in the basement with nothing but their fly tying tools and their imagination. Why?
Because fly tying offers benefits that cannot be achieved through purchasing flies.
For many, the cold, winter nights are spent in front of the bench because they feel it completes their fishing experience. According to the folks at Trroutfitters "There is no better feeling than catching a fish on a fly that you yourself have tied – period. When I can catch a fish on a fly that I have made myself, I feel as though I am completing the circle of casting, catching, thinking and preparing. In the scheme of things, what else is there?"
When an angler ties their own fly, they are creating the pattern, size, color and style. All of these factor in to catching a fish. It's one thing to catch a fish on a fly that was tied by a professional, but when it's your own product in the lip of that rainbow, it provides overall satisfaction.
When an anger is tying their own fly, it allows their imagination to run wild. There are countless numbers of patterns in the world and this allows tiers to try something that probably can't be found in a local fly shop. It also provides tiers opportunities to learn more about the entomology of their local waters.
Through tying, anglers can get a chance to pick the brains of their local fly shop guides, their friends and other anglers about what patterns and colors work best in each area. There are also opportunities for amateur tiers to meet and tie next to some of the top tiers in the area and learn different tips and tricks.
It's a common thought that tying flies vs. buying flies is also a great way to save money. And like most things, the correct answer is, "It depends." The initial cost of purchasing the tools and materials can range anywhere from $50-200+ but, again, this depends on the quality and quantity of materials.
For someone to tie 25 wolly buggers, it would roughly cost them $18. Include this to the initial cost of around $100 (basic beginner tools), and it's going to be $118 for 25 flies. Maybe even less if the first few are no good.
But, if you look at the initial cost as an investment (which it is), then it could be cheaper to tie flies over time. If the average quality fly costs around $2 then 25 flies would be $50 each purchase, whereas it would be around $20 for each set of 25 flies after the initial, start-up cost.
Some people prefer to purchase flies for simplicity sake. It's certainly easier and more time efficient to go into the local fly shop and ask the outfitters which flies work best and they'll point them to a few perfectly tied flies that will catch fish.
But while the fishing may not stop in winter, those long winter nights are perfect for those who long for sitting in front of the bench and letting their imagination and hands run wild because of the benefits offered through fly tying.
And who knows? That strange fly that only you have, may just catch a few fish.