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Saltwater fly prices in stores

JustKeepSwimmingJustKeepSwimming Posts: 256 Deckhand
Can anybody tell me why saltwater flies cost so much in stores?

Stores near me have them for sale for $6 $7 $8 $10 etc per fly. I just don't understand how they justify the price especially when you can buy the same exact flies online for a fraction of the cost. I understand they have to mark them up but flies always seem to be way more expensive. You can usually buy rods and reels for the same price online as you can in the store but not with flies. At least not that I've found so far. I don't buy flies from the store because of this and because after about 3 or 4 fish they are usually rather smashed up

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this?

Replies

  • BeautyedfliesBeautyedflies Posts: 33 Greenhorn
    many variables occur in fly prices. First , if it is an internet fly, most likely made in a third world county by children. your local shop may be buying flies from local tiers who are adjusting the wholesale price to the shop based on the U.S. economy. Most local tiers are using a quality hook , thread, materials and products because a reputation is on the line. A local fly will be more of what is working in the area.
    As a declaimer, I am a local tier, pictures of my flies appear in this forum. My deer hair flies I wholesale starting at $12.00, but even the simplest deer hair fly when tied properlyhas great many steps and the real skill is the trimming. As to the number of fish that they might stand up to, a big Jack can tear up an all synthetic the first time out. If you only get to fish sporadically as most folks, consider that you have bought the great rod, 100 dollar flyline , and invested in gas and maybe boat payment with the goal to catch a fish on fly, i would gladly fish and use one fish to one fly than no fish to a box of flies. Take up the hobby of tying, you may appreciate the fly others make more. I may be wrong but every fly is hand made no matter where it came from, this is different to the conventional lures that are massed produced.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,448 Captain
    I quit tying commercially about two years ago (but still make bucktails and do leadheads in great quantities).... Before that, at times, I filled orders for as many as three shops at the same time (as well as tying for guides and serious anglers with specific -very specific... needs), starting in 1979. Fly shops get their flies from a variety of sources (and although there are regs that require imported stuff to be labeled as such - they're not very effective). In short, if a shop has a local tyer doing work specifically for that area you're looking at your best source of saltwater flies, period. The alternative is tying your own - and I'm behind that all the way. In fact I actually ran night classes through my local community college (BCC it was called back then). This was in the early eighties - so long before saltwater fly fishing became.... cool... I've long told beginning tyers to make a point of visiting their local shops and picking up a fly or two -then learning to tie it, until they can do one just as good...

    Yes, some shops have out of area tyers (particularly from Colorado and/or Montana) filling orders for them, cheaply - but those bugs are a bit hit or miss (the tyer has to actually use the flies they produce to know whether they've got the proportions and the amount of materials right for where they're going to be used..). Otherwise the bugs look okay - but might not sink properly or move the way they need to. All of that means that a local tyer (wherever you are) has a big advantage over someone that doesn't use what they're making (understatement).

    Lastly, tying flies for money is labor intensive - and hours spent at the tying desk can be pure drudgery... quite a bit different than an angler sitting for an hour or so to tie up a couple of flies for the following day's trip.... If I were offered twice the money I used to charge for flies - I still wouldn't be interested (unless I was starving or had to leave guiding for some reason....). I still buy my hooks by the thousand per size and probably have more in the way of hair and feathers than most fly shops - but all of that was acquired over many, many years... New tyers are coming along all the time - but over the years I've just hit the wall... I'd rather do almost anything than sit for hours tying to fill an order.... By the way, whatever the shop is charging for a single fly is usually double what they had to pay for it... If I charged $3.50 for a tarpon fly done on a premium hook you can bet they'll be priced around $7.00... Remember, as well, that even with those kind of prices fly shops really struggle - just to keep their doors open... Buy all the flies on the internet that you want -but don't be surprised if your local fly shop disappears.... I can't remember all the shops I've watched go out of business over the years.
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • JustKeepSwimmingJustKeepSwimming Posts: 256 Deckhand
    Firstly, I really do appreciate people that can tie flies. The amount of detail that can go into it amazes me. Especially the flies often used on rivers for trout etc. I've dabbled in fly tying and would like to do more but i'm pretty useless. I can tie basic clouser, shrimp and deceiver patterns but that's about it. They may not be pretty but they work.

    I will certainly have a closer look when I see flies in the stores to see if they have been tied locally. To be honest it's not something I've noticed but I've not really looked for that either.

    I can understand paying a premium price for a fly if I was going to target some monster tarpon, sailfish, etc on the fly. I would want an extremely robust fly/hook for that job. But if I wading the beach for snook, mackeral, ladyfish, jacks, etc I just can't justify spending too much on a fly that I know, regardless of price, is going to get smashed up after a few fish.

    Thanks for your input!
    I'm actually going to attempt to re-tie a fly that got smashed up this morning. It's been a while since I tied any.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,448 Captain
    The three patterns you cited will catch, maybe 90% of all the fish down here (just tailor the size of the fly to the bait you're looking at....). I re-cycle many of our patterns (some of the clousers in size 2/0 have been re-tied over and over again - as long as the hook is still hooking...). Keep an eye on your local shops - they're your best bet for the occasional fly tying class or just a brief tutorial from someone tying for the shop...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Net 30Net 30 Posts: 1,050 Officer
    PM sent.......
  • mro1mro1 Posts: 77 Greenhorn
    one word S.B.S ................ Ok three words :) step by step

    There are some very good tying instructions for just about any fly you can think of in fly tying forums.
    Put a computer at your tying desk or move a vice to where your computer is.
    SBS is just what it says, everything explained one step at a time including a picture.

    Also when I find a fly that I want to add to my box I might buy one for a model.
    Generally after I tie a few I start changing it to suite my fancy.

    Mike
  • shadowwalkershadowwalker Posts: 2,200 Captain
    My best known pattern is a spoon fly. It takes me three or four days to move them thru the whole process. If you knew how to do them its unlikely you'd want to. But the challenge was presented to me, "If you think you can do a better job then do it." Which meant concocting a whole new pattern, no fair copying anyone else s spoon fly, and so I did. What a pain in the vise, but I enjoy the results. My advise,, go get inspired.
  • Jared DJared D Fernandina Beach Posts: 399 Deckhand
    lemaymiami wrote: »

    Yes, some shops have out of area tyers (particularly from Colorado and/or Montana) filling orders for them, cheaply - but those bugs are a bit hit or miss (the tyer has to actually use the flies they produce to know whether they've got the proportions and the amount of materials right for where they're going to be used..). Otherwise the bugs look okay - but might not sink properly or move the way they need to. All of that means that a local tyer (wherever you are) has a big advantage over someone that doesn't use what they're making (understatement).

    Lastly, tying flies for money is labor intensive - and hours spent at the tying desk can be pure drudgery... quite a bit different than an angler sitting for an hour or so to tie up a couple of flies for the following day's trip....

    I agree with both of these points.
    First, I am only a recreational tyer. I love doing it, but a good night is three or four flies... and at the end, I am sick of it. No way you could get me to do it for a living.

    I actually tie so much, I wear out my buddies trying to get them to try my new patterns out. More than a few have stopped taking new ones from me as I either 1. Overwhelm them with too many to try or 2. They get into tying and no longer need my flies.

    My big issue is getting honest feedback on how they work. I go twice per month which isn't enough for me to test the new flies I make, so I give flies to buddies who are supposed to torture test them and tell me the good and bad.
    Often I am told they work great only to use the same pattern next time I go out and find out it sucks. I then will tell the person who said it worked well my issues with it, only for them to then share they had the same issues.

    For example, i made a shrimp pattern that was hailed by a buddy to be outstanding but when I fished it this weekend, it presented hook point down instead of up as intended. I caught a lot of trout on it, but it was not working right at all. It wouldn't have worked for reds on the mud flats as it would have snagged bottom the way it laid on bottom.
    It takes a bunch of trial and error to make a good fly that looks right in the water just like land. You can't get that from people a long ways from the local area.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,448 Captain
    One of the things I used to point out years ago when I taught fly tying... was that the fish are your critics... If fish eat the bug it's a good one - if not, no matter how nice it looks... hang it up on a wall somewhere and try again... Some of my best patterns came from mistakes (usually when I was trying to duplicate something someone else had developed).... Typical questions i'd ask myself - does it look right?, does it move the way I intended? does the bug sink at the right speed (or float or suspend -if that was the idea...) and above all do the fish give it a try? Based on that last criteria the shrimp fly that didn't do what you wanted still came up aces - the fish liked it...

    Good luck, as you've already noticed fly tying is addictive (whether you only do a few in a session - or are trying to do 100 of the same pattern (another of those "ask me how I know" moments...).
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Jared DJared D Fernandina Beach Posts: 399 Deckhand
    lemaymiami wrote: »
    One of the things I used to point out years ago when I taught fly tying... was that the fish are your critics... If fish eat the bug it's a good one - if not, no matter how nice it looks... hang it up on a wall somewhere and try again... Some of my best patterns came from mistakes (usually when I was trying to duplicate something someone else had developed).... Typical questions i'd ask myself - does it look right?, does it move the way I intended? does the bug sink at the right speed (or float or suspend -if that was the idea...) and above all do the fish give it a try? Based on that last criteria the shrimp fly that didn't do what you wanted still came up aces - the fish liked it...


    Great point.
    I try to tell myself that. Interestingly, some of my best flies are the ones I like the least- usually because they don't look as nice and are too easy to tie. I am learning that less is often more.

    I am addicted though. I am constantly making new flies just to see how they work. I have my crab patterns nailed down, but shrimp and baitfish I am constantly changing up.

    I think the thing I enjoy most about tying is that it allows me to do something fishing related when I am too busy with work to go. I can go tie for 20-30 minutes and feel like I am connected to the water- even when it has been 2 weeks since I "had salt on my face."
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