The Best Flies for Fly Fishing

How big of a difference do premium fly fishing flies make to your day on the water? There are many out there advertising “Quality” or “Premium” fly fishing flies, but are far from it.

A premium trout fly in a fly shop costs anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00, bass and surf flies $3.00 – $5.00 but there are literally dozens of online retailers who offer similar patterns for half that price. You may pay more for a premium fly at a fly shop but research suggests the fly will last nearly 10 times longer. It pays to buy premium flies for fly fishing.

Materials.

The first important material is the hackle. Great strides have been made over the past 60 years with the hackles that are used by the premium commercial fly tiers. Flocks have been bread based upon color, hackle length, and barb stiffness to create superior hackle.

It has been a process beginning with Harry Darbee in the 1940′s and 1950′s continuing today with the hackles produced by Dr. Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms and Buck Metz of Metz Hackles, among others. Premium fly manufacturers such as Idylwilde Flies, Umpqua Feather Merchants, and Rainy flies use top quality premium hackles. ┬áThese are premium flies for fly fishing made by reputable companions.

Tiemco has positioned itself as the World’s leader in premium grade fly fishing hooks with creativity and attention to detail in the functional designs of its premium fly tying hooks. From trout to tarpon, in freshwater or saltwater, for bass poppers or Micro Mayflies, top fly manufacturers choose Tiemco hooks over the other competitor’s best efforts. The hooks also have a slow taper which assists in easier hook sets.

This may be of some advantage in holding hook sets with the barbless hooks. This is a cut that Tiemco uses on certain wet and streamer flies for enhanced hooking penetration. “The first issue is that cheap imports always are tied on very cheap hooks, with strange sizing.

A discount fly company’s failure to use top-notch materials means the final product doesn’t measure up. As Shawn Brillon, the lead fly buyer for Orvis says, “If you have to tie with junk, often the final product is the same … junk.”.

Discount fly manufacturers also take shortcuts to reduce materials and costs. Bruce states, “In order to produce flies that cheap, these guys have got to take shortcuts.” The discount fly companies use inferior hooks and materials, skip important tying steps (such as laying down a glue base on the hook shank to keep the materials in place), and don’t exhibit much quality control.

Patterns.

A second important quality of premium fly fishing flies is the adherence to standard pattern recipes. Bruce described one “Copper John” that he purchased online as missing the epoxy over the shellback and the lead under the thorax.

“So, you may have saved a lot of money on the fly, but it’s not a Copper John!” he says, and he notes that such an inferior version of the popular fly won’t perform on the water the way its designer intended. Without the lead, it won’t sink correctly, and the lack of epoxy makes the fly much less durable. Find the “Copper John” at www.TroutBumOutfitters.com. ┬áMany more of the most popular flies of premium quality.

Factories.

The more expensive flies carried by the premium fly shops such as Blue River Fly Company are tied in Thailand, the fly tying capital of the world. Other areas of the world that do a significant amount of fly production include China, Sir Lanka, and Kenya. The fly production in the United States and Europe where the largest number of users are is primarily by home tiers or tiers that tie for specific fly shops.

Many premium fly manufacturers, including Idylwilde have a strong belief in corporate social responsibility and believe in fair trade. Idylwilde fly fishing flies are tied in Manila, Philippines under a markedly forward-thinking arrangement with Sister Christine Tan, a Catholic nun who believed her people needed more than charity. The flies you see here are the work of their hands and their hopes.”.

Fly Fishing Fly Costs.

The average cost of goods for a premium fly manufacturer for the simple dry nymphs and flies equates to about $ 4.50 – $5.50 a dozen. Additional shipping, duty costs and a US excise tax add an additional $1.00 a dozen.
The fly companies that are importing the flies need to make a profit so the cost to the shops are generally at keystone (50 % markup) so the cost to the shops is now at $ 12.00 per dozen. The fly shop pays shipping and marks up for their operating costs and profit, keystone again, the cost to the consumer is pushing that $2 -3 price you pay at a brick and mortar fly shop.

The large box stores, in order to get the pricing down to what they do are either getting huge discounts for volume buying or they are getting flies that are tied somewhere other than Thailand, or both. When you get sticker shock when you go into a fly shop you can understand why the shop is charging what it does, hopefully now.

Cost per Fish.

Bruce Olson argues that anglers should look at the cost of a fly in relation to its durability. If the 75-cent Stimulator falls apart after the second fish, but the $1.75 Umpqua Stimulator is good for 10 fish, then the cost-effectiveness of the more expensive fly is twice as high.

Premium Fly Fishing Flies.

Why then settle of substandard flies? Flies are the most important part of fly fishing.

Price is a pretty good indicator to the overall quality of the flies you buy. Umpqua, Idylwilde, and Rainy have significantly raised the standards by which high-quality fishing flies are defined with their use of premium materials such as Tiemco hooks, Metz and Whiting hackle, and by developing the consummate skills of its production fly tiers.

A premium trout fly in a fly shop costs anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00, bass and surf flies $3.00 – $5.00 but there are literally dozens of online retailers who offer similar patterns for half that price. You may pay more for a premium fly at a fly shop but research suggests the fly will last nearly 10 times longer. Tiemco has positioned itself as the World’s leader in premium grade fly fishing hooks with creativity and attention to detail in the functional designs of its premium fly tying hooks. The more expensive flies carried by the premium fly shops such as Blue River Fly Company are tied in Thailand, the fly tying capital of the world. Flies are the most important part of fly fishing.