3Rd Grade And 4Th Grade Math Standards Side By Side The Difference Between Premium and Discount Fly Fishing Flies

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The Difference Between Premium and Discount Fly Fishing Flies

What difference do premium fly fishing flies make to your day on the water? There are many who advertise “Quality” or “Premium” fly fishing flies, but they are far from it. A top quality dry fly will land high, float correctly and consistently and retain these properties even after catching 5, 10, even 20 fish. On the other hand, poorly tied flies will often land upside down, sideways or even on the head.

A premium trout fly at a fly shop costs $1.50-$3.00, bass and surf flies $3.00-$5.00, but there are literally dozens of online retailers that 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. You have to ask yourself a question: do I want a 2 fish fly or a 20 fish fly? Let’s examine some of the differences:


The first important material is the hackle. Great strides have been made over the past 60 years with hackles using premium commercial fly levels. The herds have been bread based on the color, the length of the mince and the stiffness of the spikes to create a superior mince.

It has been a process that began with Harry Darbee in the 1940s and 1950s that continues today with the hackles produced by Dr. Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms and Buck Metz of Metz Hackles, among others. Premium fly makers such as Idylwilde Flies, Umpqua Feather Merchants and Rainy flies use premium hackles.

The second material of major importance is the quality of the hook. Tiemco has positioned itself as the world leader in premium quality fly fishing hooks with creativity and attention to detail in the functional designs of its premium fly tying hooks. From trout to tarpon, in fresh or salt water, to bass poppers or Micro Mayflies, the best fly makers choose Tiemco hooks over the best efforts of the other competitor. They were one of the first manufacturers to chemically sharpen the tips and it is now standard throughout the industry. They carry a very extensive line of fly fishing hooks with about 46 models to choose from. At the end of the hook designation, you may see an “SP”, meaning Specialty Point. SP hooks have a hollow curved point with triangulated edges for easy sharpening. The hooks also have a slow taper that makes hook sets easier. An interesting aspect of this hook is that the basal end of the tip has a bulge that works very much like a flea without being a flea.

This can be of some advantage for holding hook sets with barbless hooks. Another designation you may see is “TC,” which stands for Tiemco Cut. This is a cut that Tiemco uses on certain wet flies and streamers to improve hook penetration. “It’s all about quality, or rather the lack thereof,” says Bruce Olson of Umpqua Feather Merchants. “The first problem is that the cheap imports are always tied with very cheap, odd-sized hooks. I find that a quality fly should be tied. [name brand] hooks This becomes very important for big game, such as tarpon, where the sharpness and tensile strength of the hook wire is vital.”

The fact that a discount fly company does not use top-notch materials means that the final product is not up to par. As Shawn Brillon, Orvis’ top fly buyer, says, “If you have to tie with junk, the end product is often the same thing…junk.”

Discount fly makers also take shortcuts to cut costs and materials. Bruce states, “In order to produce flies this cheap, these guys have to take shortcuts.” Discount fly companies use inferior hooks and materials, skip important tying steps (like putting a glue base on the hook shank to hold the materials in place), and don’t have much quality control.


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

“So you may have saved a lot of money along the way, but it’s no Copper John!” he says, noting that such an inferior version of the popular fly will not perform in the water as its designer intended. Without the lead, it won’t sink properly and the lack of epoxy makes the fly much less durable.


Most fly production is done in third world countries because of the price but also because they still work with their hands. Although they are third world countries, fly tiers are well paid and earn middle class incomes for their work. The most expensive flies carried by premium fly shops like Blue River Fly Company are tied in Thailand, the fly tying capital of the world. There are over a dozen large fly tying companies that have tying facilities there. Other areas of the world that do a significant amount of fly production include China, Sir Lanka and Kenya. There is some production in Central and South America, Mexico and the Philippines. Fly production in the United States and Europe where there are the largest number of users is mainly by home levels or levels that tie for specific fly shops.

Many premium fly makers, including Idylwilde, strongly believe in corporate social responsibility and believe in fair trade. They take responsibility for the impact their activities have on customers, employees, communities and the environment. As Idylwilde describes on their website, “If a fly is only $0.99, not only is it crap, but it’s likely tied to a third-world store, and we’d rather not have that bad mojo hanging on our consciousness. Idylwilde fly fishing. The flies are tied to Manila, Philippines under a markedly avant-garde arrangement with Sister Christine Tan, a Catholic nun who believed her people needed more than charity. They needed well-paying jobs and honest people they could trust as they built a life outside the poverty line. Our promise to Sister Christine continues some 12 years later, now enabling more than 150 levels to better support their families. The flies you see here they are the work of his hands and his hopes.”

Fly fishing costs

The average cost of products for a premium fly maker for simple dry flies and nymphs is about $4.50 – $5.50 per dozen. Additional costs for shipping, taxes and a US excise tax add an additional $1.00 per dozen.

The fly companies that import the flies need to make a profit, so the cost to the stores is generally key (50% markup), so the cost to the stores is now $12.00 per dozen. The fly shop pays for shipping and marks up their operating costs and profit, again key, the cost to the consumer is pushing that $2-$3 price you pay at a brick and mortar fly shop.

The big box stores, in order to keep the prices down on what they do, are either getting huge volume discounts or getting flies tied somewhere other than Thailand, or both. Hopefully now, when you get a sticker hit when you walk into a fly shop, you can understand why the shop is charging what it is.

Cost per fish

Bruce Olson argues that anglers should look at the cost of a fly relative 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, the more expensive fly is twice as profitable. (75 divided by 2 fish = 37.5 cents per fish, 175 divided by 10 fish = 17.5 cents per fish.) “You have to do the math,” Olson says.

Premium fly fishing flies

You won’t settle for rods, reels, fly lines, waders, etc. that break or break after a couple of times of fishing. So why settle for low-level flies? Flies are the most important part of fly fishing. If the end result of all this is catching fish, why not spend more time, money and energy on the one thing that really matters?”

Price is a good indicator of the overall quality of the flies you buy. Cheap flies are almost always tied cheaply. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math. You can also test them by making sure they don’t spin easily, are well designed for balance, are tied in the right proportion, etc.

Umpqua, Idylwilde and Rainy have significantly raised the standards by which high-quality fishing flies are defined by using premium materials such as Tiemco, Metz and Whiting hackle hooks, and developing the consummate abilities of their flies of production

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