Do you save money by tying your own flies?

Updated: Mar 24

You save money by tying your own flies if you tie more than 400-500 of them throughout your lifetime. With all material and start up costs taken into account, between 400 and 500 flies is the break even point for saving money.


How much does it cost to tie your own flies


It costs between $.64 and $.88 per fly for the materials to tie your own flies. If materials and start up costs are included, it costs between $1.14 and $3.13 per fly, with an average of $491 to tie 500 flies.


The below table shows the average cost of tying 500 flies

How much can you save by tying your own flies


You can save between $73 and $674 by tying your own flies instead of buying them. The amount saved per fly is between $.73 and $1.35.


The top 3 factors that determine how much you will save are:

  1. Start up costs

  2. Number of flies tied

  3. Specific patterns

To conduct my analysis of the actual savings of tying your own flies, I did a cost comparison between tying your own and buying, using a dry fly pattern (Parachute Adams), and a nymph pattern (Bead Head Pheasant Tail).


The table below shows overall savings for tying Parachute Adams vs Buying them *Note: This table DOES NOT include start up costs. To see a table including these costs, click here.

For Parachute Adams (Dry Fly)

Below is a breakdown of the cost or materials to tie Parachute Adams


100 Parachute Adams

  • 100 dry fly hooks (1) $27

  • Spool of thread (1) $7

  • package of dubbing (1) $5

  • package of 100's dry fly grizzly hackle (1) $21

  • package of 100's dry fly ginger hackle (1) $21

  • Patch calf body hair (1) $7

Total cost to tie 100 parachute adams flies = $88


Cost per fly = $.88

Cost to buy HIGH QUALITY parachute adams = $1.61 per fly

Cost to buy 100 HIGH QUALITY parachute adams = $161 total


Money saved by tying 100 of your own dry flies = $.73/fly

Total money saved = $73/100 flies

250 Parachute Adams flies:

  • 250 dry fly hooks (2.5) $68

  • Spool of thread (2) $14

  • Package of dubbing (2) $10

  • 1/2 saddle dry fly grizzly hackle $44

  • 1/2 fly ginger hackle $44

  • Patch calf body hair (2) $14

Total cost to tie 250 parachute adams flies = $195


Cost per fly = $.78

Cost to buy HIGH QUALITY = $1.61/ fly

Cost to buy 250 HIGH QUALITY parachute adams = $402 total


Money saved by tying 250 of your own dry flies = $.83/fly

Total money saved = $207/250 flies

500 Parachute Adams flies:

  • Package of 100 dry fly hooks (5) $135

  • Spool of thread (3) $21

  • Package of dubbing (2) $10

  • Full saddle dry fly grizzly hackle $77

  • Full fly ginger hackle $77

  • Patch calf body hair (3) $21

Total cost to tie 500 parachute adams flies = $341


Cost per fly = $.68

Cost to buy 500 HIGH QUALITY = $1.61/ fly

Cost to buy 500 HIGH QUALITY parachute adams = $805 total


Money saved by tying 500 of your own dry flies = $.93/fly

Total money saved = $464/500 flies


The above data only includes the material costs. I also wanted to find out how much it would cost if start up materials were included:


The table below outlines my findings INCLUDING start up costs

The table below shows overall savings for tying Bead Head Pheasant Tail Nymphs vs Buying them Note: This table DOES NOT include start up costs. To see a table including these costs, click here.

For Bead Head Pheasant Tail (Nymph)

100 Bead Head Pheasant Tails:

  • 100 nymph hooks (1) $39

  • 100 Gold Bead Heads (1) $11

  • Lead free weighted wire (1) $4

  • Spool of thread (1) $7

  • Package of Pheasant tail (1) $9

  • Ultra wire (1) $4

  • Package of peacock herl (1) $8

Total cost to tie 100 bead head pheasant tail flies = $82


Cost per fly = $.82

Cost to buy HIGH QUALITY bead head PT = $1.99/fly

Cost to buy 100 HIGH QUALITY bead head PT = $199 total


Money saved by tying 100 of your own nymph patterns = $1.17/fly

Total money saved = $117/100 flies


250 Bead Head Pheasant Tails

  • 100 nymph hooks (2.5) $97

  • 100 Gold Bead Heads (2) $22

  • Lead free weighted wire (2) $8

  • Spool of thread (2) $14

  • Package of Pheasant tail (1) $9

  • Ultra wire (1) $4

  • Package of peacock herl (1) $8

Total cost to tie 250 bead head pheasant tails = $162


Cost per fly = $.65

Cost to buy HIGH QUALITY = $1.99/ fly

Cost to buy 250 HIGH QUALITY bead head pheasant tails = $497 total


Money saved by tying 250 of your own nymph patterns = $1.34/fly

Total money saved = $335/250 flies


500 Bead Head Pheasant Tails:

  • 100 nymph hooks (5) $195

  • 100 Gold Bead Heads (5) $55

  • Lead free weighted wire (2) $8

  • Spool of thread (3) $21

  • Package of Pheasant tail (2) $18

  • Ultra wire (2) $8

  • Package of peacock herl (2) $16

Total cost to tie 500 bead head pheasant tails = $321


Cost per fly = $.64

Cost to buy 500 HIGH QUALITY = 1.99/ fly

Cost to buy 500 HIGH QUALITY bead head pheasant tails = $995


Money saved by tying 500 of your own nymph patterns = $1.35/fly

Total money saved = $675/500 flies


The above data only includes the material costs. I also wanted to find out how much it would cost if start up materials were INCLUDED:


The table below outlines my findings including start up costs

These tables make it apparent that the more flies you tie, the less expensive per fly it becomes. This is because once you've covered your initial equipment overhead, your only expense is the materials to tie the specific pattern, and you can purchase more materials in bulk which drives down the price per fly.


What this analysis does not take into account:

  • When starting off tying flies, you'll most likely need to tie between 100 and 250 flies before you'll create anything that can be considered high quality.

  • You might be able to lower your costs by finding used equipment at garage or estate sales.

  • If you're a bird hunter, many of the feathers from harvested birds can be used for materials.

  • Catching trout on patterns you’ve tied yourself is BA!

Ways to save money on tying flies

  • See if you can borrow or buy used start up equipment from a friend or family member

  • Check garage sales and estate auctions for used equipment

  • Visit craft stores for creative alternatives to traditional materials

  • Take a class. This will reduce the number of flies you'll need to tie before producing something that's actually fishable

Why tie your own flies?


While it’s possible to save money tying your own flies, if it’s the only reason you do it, you're probably missing the point.


The true benefits of tying your own flies are:

  • Developing a new hobby and meeting others in the fly tying community

  • Learning about aquatic insects

  • Customizing flies to fit your preferences

  • The satisfaction of knowing you fooled a trout with something you created with your own hands

Landing a trout on a fly you've tied yourself is a feeling like non other. You'll need to try it for yourself to experience it!

The best resource I know of for learning how to tie trout flies is an illustrated book by Charlie Craven. Click on the image below to check out current pricing on Amazon:

Noses Up!

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Noses Up Fly Fishing is brought to you by two brothers and their passion for chasing wild trout on spring creeks with dry flies. We created this site to share our knowledge, catalog our adventures, and tell a few white along the way. Thanks for joining!

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