To Tie or Buy
Should I buy flies or tie my own? This question comes up a lot. Eventually it will come up in your head too. Maybe not right away, but eventually we all get it.
I started to make a pros and cons list, but it just didn’t quite seem to answer the question. It was just more data. Like trying to make a flow chart for this. Then I realized just how wrong this way was. Charts have no heart. It’s just raw information. That is not what fly fishing, or any fishing is. Fishing and the outdoors are about heart and soul and being connected. It’s spiritual, Zenlike, natural, primitive, past, present, and future all rolled into one. You can’t use lists for this kind of thing. It has to be talked about. Or shared. Like most of the other things outdoors, it’s about us rather than I. We are a community not a sales graph. A way of life and a way of being part of our world.
If you’re just starting out fly fishing it might be a little too much to try tying right from the beginning. Fly fishing “can” be a little frustrating till you get the hang of it. Having to go home and learn how to tie all those fly’s you might have lost might be a little discouraging. Or you might be one of those people who jumps and learns how to fly on the way down.
It is a lot easier to just go to wherever you get your gear from and pick up some new ones as you need them. Remember grocery stores are full of produce people “could” grow at home too. But if you don’t know exactly what you're doing, it’s best to hire an expert.
Till you are an expert.
If you want to be an expert.
Lots of people fly fish forever and never learn how to tie flies.
And it could be said it gives you more time to fish. You can run in and buy a few in a matter of minutes. Trying to tie those will depend a great deal on how good you are at it. I’m horrible at it. To date, I don’t see it changing any time soon. But I can imagine myself doing it one day.
You see, getting frustrated at trying to tie flies leads to my not fishing as much. It was counterproductive so I quit. Trying to tie flies. I love fishing. I understand the math of it. Fisherman’s math.
Point of fact, I’ve tried learning to play the violin several times too. It usually ends up with me becoming frustrated and walking away from it. I can play guitar and other string instruments with ease. But that one violates my calm. I do still imagine that one day I will be able to. I’m just not there yet.
God’s plans usually take precedence over mine. Things usually work out a lot better when I go by him. Even though I seem to try mine first all the time. I like to think I make him smile. Eventually I get to where he wants me. I got mislead a couple of times. Never "assume" anything. Things change. Sometimes good things come into your life you didn’t count on. Tying flies might be that for you.
If you don’t talk to God, you’re not a fisherman. Keep fishing, you’ll understand, if you don’t already.
There are just as many reasons to learn to tie them though. The one that usually comes up is cost. It is probably cheaper to tie your own. After the initial cost of the tools and materials it’s relatively cheap to keep it going.
To figure out which way is cheaper for you add up all the money you spent last year on flies. Find out how much the initial cost to start tying your own would be. See how many years, if any, it would take before you start saving money. The math on this might make the choice for you.
It’s also pretty cool to make your own designs. Instead of using what someone else tells you is available it’s all up to you. Your own imagination and creativity are your only boundry.
This , of course, will lead to you spending more time at your favorite spots. Not just to fish but to observe. Find out what they are hitting the most when nobody is casting at them. Then make your flies to match.
Personally this is my favorite reason to tie them. It puts more in connection to nature and the outdoors. I like being part of the cycle and the view. An active part. It’s where I feel I’m in my element. When I’m not writing about it anyway. You can’t write about what you don't know or what’s not in your heart. My heart is in the outdoors. Mainly on the end of a hook.
For some people though, tying flies is a zen like thing. Something like bonsai trees. They get into the moment of it. That place where only them and the fly exist. They become the fly.
If you're one of them, GREAT! It’s a lot cheaper than therapy. And people do need activities like this in their lives. People now spend too much time in their heads. All that thinking and not enough doing. Just doing.
My Zen place is on the bank and casting. Or on a couch with a laptop writing. I don’t have to think I just do. Maybe one day I will attain that level of enlightenment to tie flies and play violin. Till that day I’ll just buy mine.
So basically, the answer to the question of “To Buy or tie? Is only going to be answered by you. How much time do you have, what your reasons for fly fishing are, and how much do you want to invest in it? Like all big questions in life, they take time to understand.
There are no wrong answers to this. We all have parts to play in life. It usually works out better for everybody when we do what the task we are given is. Maybe God put it on your heart to tie. Maybe you are the kind of mind that can do this with ease. It might be a while before I have the mentality to tie all my own flies, and that’s OK! Right now, for me, just fishing is enough.
But One day.
And the violin too.