Before we go any further, I will say that I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t enjoy tying flies. The creative process is very rewarding, and the ability to tweak things until I’m happy with the finished product is what keeps me going.
This post was inspired by an eight hour day at the vice, filling orders and increasing my chances at Carpel Tunnel with every turn of the bobbin. Commercial tying is not as leisurely as sitting down to tie recreationally for yourself, if you want to be turning any sort of profit you have to be fast and organized.
Many people ask me if you can actually make money tying flies. I don’t rely on the money I make from selling flies to put food on the table, but it is a decent little side job that can create a surprising amount of income. Could you make a full-time income from fly tying? Of course you could. It wouldn’t happen immediately and you would need a very strong repeat customer base, but it is possible. Fly tiers like John Kent didn’t end up where they are by accident, it’s because they truly are a step above the rest and their flies are in very high demand from a lot of people.
One thing that needs to be considered is how much do you love tying flies, even when it might be tying the same pattern 15 dozen times without any variation? There are times when it becomes monotonous, but switching things up or taking a very short break will usually clear your mind enough to get back at it and finish the job.
So, is commercial fly tying fun? At times it is very fun, at times it isn’t. There is something about sitting down in the morning and hammering out a bunch of flies that is very peaceful, or getting an email from a customer saying they absolutely love the product that you made with your own hands. On the other hand, breaking your thread or realizing you missed a step knowing that you’re losing money every second you spend correcting your mistake can be a bit stressful at times. At the end of the day if you like tying flies, have the motivation and patience to get it done then you are on the right track!
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