Price of Flies in UK vs. USA [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Price of Flies in UK vs. USA

Bob Pauli
11-10-2003, 11:29 AM
It is my understanding that trout flies purchased in fly shops in the UK cost approximately one dollar or less.

1. Is it true?

2. If not true, what is the current price of UK trout flies?

3. What is the reason for the difference between the UK price and the current two dollar price in the USA.

11-10-2003, 12:56 PM
the price of flies in Ireland (not the UK) are approx. 2 Euro for trout flies, if I remember correctly. Recent exchange rate is something like 130E for 180 dollars.

I'm not sure what the exchange rate is for Sterling.

Hope this helps

11-10-2003, 02:06 PM

Willie Gunn
11-10-2003, 02:45 PM
Wet Flies (x50) £ 5.95 9.94710 USD
Dry Flies (x50) £ 7.95
Nymphs Flies (x50) £ 6.95
Lures (x50) £ 9.99
Gold Head Nymphs (x20) £ 5.50
Pheasant Tail Nymphs (x20) £ 3.50
Daddys (x20) £ 5.50
Hoppers (x20) £ 5.50
May Flies (x20) £ 5.50
Sedges (x30) £ 5.50
Buzzers (x20) £ 3.50
CDC (x20 includes Emergers Buzzers Caddis) £ 3.95
Lead Heads (x20) £ 5.50
Weighted Nymphs (x40) £ 5.95

Most of the flies sold in the UK are tied in Africa
taken from one of the big retailers in the UK

Bob Pauli
11-11-2003, 12:07 AM
Many thanks—a really useful site.

Thank you for the information. I am not sure I understand the unit prices, so I will appreciate your correcting any misinterpretations and errors I made below.

Taking your line 1, wet flies, is the unit price per wet fly about $0.20?

Unit fly price = $9.95 divided by quantity, which in this case is 50 flies
= 9.95 / 50 flies = $0.199 or approximately 20 cents US.

20 cents seems low. What don’t I understand?

G Ritchie
11-11-2003, 02:38 AM
Those prices, approximately $0.20 per fly, are for mass produced flies imported from africa. These are generally of very poor quality. Better quality flies sourced from profesional fly tyiers based in the UK are generally priced at $1.00 to $1.50 for standard wet flies.

Willie Gunn
11-11-2003, 03:27 AM
Originally posted by Bob Pauli
Thank you for the information. I am not sure I understand the unit prices, so I will appreciate your correcting any misinterpretations and errors I made below.

Taking your line 1, wet flies, is the unit price per wet fly about $0.20?

Unit fly price = $9.95 divided by quantity, which in this case is 50 flies
= 9.95 / 50 flies = $0.199 or approximately 20 cents US.

20 cents seems low. What don’t I understand?

I think Graham summed it up nicely, you pay for what you get, for a 20 cent fly might last a day before it fell to bits.


11-11-2003, 06:30 AM
Agree with everything Malcolm & Graham have said. Many of the flies sold in the UK are very poor quality. They are tied by people who have little understanding of what they are setting out to achieve, and have probably never even seen the species of fish for which the fly is intended. As Graham says, there are a few tiers who sell their flies for decent money, although even at these prices I think it’s very hard for anyone in the UK to earn a proper living solely from tying.

Interestingly, there was a good thread about a month ago on a UK board entitled something like ‘Would you pay £1 for a fly?’. Many members there felt that this price was excessive; I was somewhat in the minority in suggesting that a well tied fly was cheap at £1 (approx $1.60). People seem happy to spend hundreds of pounds on expensive rods and reels, which are unlikely to attract a single extra fish. Yet ask them to spend a sensible sum on really good flies – the bit the fish actually see and respond to – and they don’t want to know. I suppose they don’t attract the admiring glances on the riverbank, which confirms the view that so much of the tackle sold is no more than male jewellery, bought to show off rather than actually to improve your catch rate.

I tie all my own flies, but if for some reason I found myself unable to do so I would rather pay $2 each for a few well tied flies which I had real confidence in, than have boxes and boxes of the rubbish that is sold in so many shops here. But I think this view is not widespread.

Bob Pauli
11-11-2003, 02:27 PM
Thank you for the answers.

Gardener, do you remember the url of the UK board debating the price of flies in the UK?


Willie Gunn
11-11-2003, 02:44 PM
For what it's worth

You may have to cut and copy, rather than a direct link.

Bob Pauli
11-11-2003, 09:42 PM
Thank you for the url. The discussion is fascinating. I am surprised folks get 30 and 40 fish on one fly. Would it be impolite to ask the size and birthplace of fish that are so gentle with flies?

11-12-2003, 12:23 AM
Bob Pauli,

I know people who have caught 5 to 8 steelhead on one of my spey flies before it came apart. And I regularly catch 6 or 7 chum before the fly is coming apart. I used to be able to tie on an elk hair caddis that I tied on Montana's Missouri River and fish it all evening long (some 3 hours usually) without having it fall apart all the while catching 10 to 12 trout of 12" to 3lbs in each of the 3 hours on the same fly. Well-tied flies stay together a good long time.

And I know other tyers who have their flies hold up as long or longer. The big problem with fly fishers is they have not fished with quality, well-tied flies tied by those who care about producing quality flies. Most fly fishers have been fishing with lower quality flies tied by someone in Africa, Sri Lanka, or Columbia, and they just don't hold up nearly as well as well-tied flies tied by U.S., Canadian, U.K. NZ, Norwegian, etc. professional tyers.


Yep, we see this exact same thing on this side of the pond. People spending big bucks for top quality rods and rediculously priced reels ($1,000.00+ U.S.) who then complain about the "high price" of well-tied flies. I'm equally certain that if the imported fly supply dried up, fishers would buy quality flies at fair prices. However, I'm afraid that as long as the imported crap is selling for so little, the average fly fisher will buy them thinking he is getting a bargain compared to well-tied flies. It seems they never have learned that well-tied flies fish better, catch more fish, and last a lot longer.

Oh well, one must look like one has status on the river; thus, the number of very poor casters who have the most expensive equipment.

Rob Estlund
11-12-2003, 05:04 PM
Something still doesn't add up.

I always assumed the 2 and 3 dollar flies available at most US fly shops were imported from Sri Lanka, Kenya, etc. If so, why are the same imported flies in the UK so much cheaper?

11-12-2003, 09:50 PM
IMHO, the most well tied 'offshore' flies are tied in Thailand followed closely by Sri Lanka.

Next in line is South America (primarily Columbia). The factories down there produce a very decent fly at a very good price.

Last in the list is South Africa, Kenya etc., (where as it sounds the UK shops get most of their flies from). These flies are very cheap but also very poorely tied.

11-12-2003, 11:34 PM

Yes, and the flies from Thailand and Sri Lanka are selling for the same or nearly the same prices to dealers that dealers can buy local tyers wares for unless it is an end of year or end of season sale from the importer. But even the flies from Thailand and Sri Lanka are not available in most spey, dee, G.P., Ally's Shrimp, Irish shrimp style, or low-water featherwing patterns, which local tyers would be glad to produce if given the opportunity to do so at a fair price.

I'm also aware that there are shops with multiple locations that never allow an idividual store to buy locally tied flies, instead buying all the store's flies from an offshore producer. Granted a local tyer needs more than a week's notice to tie 150 dozen steelhead flies and the importers usually have thousands of a given fly pattern in stock that have been tied with very cheap labor (Scri Lankan tyers get $2.00 to $3.00/ 10 hour day and Thai tyers get $2.50 to $4.00/ day). Plus one importer owns the oldest large scale genetic hackle producer in the U.S. and is the sole distributor of a very popular Japanese hook. Therefore, this importer not only owns the fly factory, it also owns the hackle grower and is the hook distributor; therefore, his cost/dozen flies is very low. However, his wholesale prices do not reflect this.

Bob Pauli
11-13-2003, 12:42 AM
My initial post asked why flies in the USA cost more than in the UK. Answers were informative, but did not explain why USA fly fishers do not have the opportunity to purchase low quality flies for 20 cents each, or good quality flies for one dollar + or -.

One gentleman stated that poor quality 20 cent flies only hold up for 2 or 3 fish. I, and many of my friends would gladly pay 20 cents for a trout fly that caught 2 or 3 fish, but the opportunity is not available. To be truthful I am stunned that 20 cent flies are readily available in the UK. As you can see from my initial post, it was my understanding that inexpensive in the UK flies cost $1.

In this global economy it is unusual for large economic differences to survive the information age. Why would a UK entrepeneur not sell 20 cent flies in the USA? What don't I understand?

Willie Gunn
11-13-2003, 03:30 AM
I will happily swap you the ability to buy poorly tied flies at 0.20 cents for the chance to buy Simms waders at less than $700.

If you are keen to buy cheap flies try the following web sites
*** or*** *=w as neither site sponsor this great forum. Personaly I wouldn't bother.
You will save 17.5% tax but get hit for postage.


G Ritchie
11-13-2003, 04:07 AM
As Malcolm says we in the UK tend to pay about 50% more than prices in the US for almost all fishing tackle, rods, reels, lines waders etc. So saving a little on poorly constructed flies is little consolation. Anyway I am sure most anglers prefer to catch fish on flies they have tied themselves.

11-14-2003, 07:00 PM
I have been tying commercially for years and have some experience in the retail market. I sell Speys for about $3.50 a pop and Intruder style flies for about $5. I have never looked at what other folks charge to determine my prices. I figure my labour is worth about $20 an hour. Once I can produce a pattern in volume I see how many I can tie in an hour and figure the labour. To that I add the retail cost of materials, hooks and such.

I have seen a lot of crummy flies sold for a lot of $$. If you pay little for a crummy fly that is OK, if you pay too much it is horrible. I proudly tie and sell flies from America. If they cost a bit more I justify it by using higher quality materials and hooks than anyone else. In fact I fish the flies I sell, that I think says a lot. Folks in other countries may need to make a living but so do tyers in America. So far my customers have been from all over the place and many have bought cheap flies as well as mine. They seem happy with what they get from me.

One customer called me and complained that his LAdy Caroline had fallen apart and he was bummed. Then he shared that half a dozen Steelhead had been caught on it and he wanted a dozen more. Stories like that are typical.

I figure in a year or two you will see the $2 intruder from Thailand. I hope you will all keep buying them from Aaron and I.