pro tyers [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: pro tyers

12-06-2003, 08:44 PM
how exactly do you obtain the status of being a pro tyer?

12-06-2003, 08:58 PM

Get a state resale tax license, a federal excise tax number, and then sell a sufficient number of your flies/year for you to make a profit of at least $1,000.00 after all your materials are paid for and the state sales tax (which is to be collected on any fly sales made in your state) is paid and the federal excise tax (10% of gross sale amount) is paid. Then you must file federal and state income tax statements, and then pay the state and federal income taxes and the federal FICA self-employment tax quarterly as required by law. As you can see, it is a simply process!

12-07-2003, 06:48 AM
Good Answer flytyer but.........


Depends on what you mean by "Pro" tyer. Flytyer gave a very good answer if you are looking for the commerical end of things but you can, in my opinion, be a pro tyer and not be in the commerical end of things.

Now understand that this is just my opinion.

I would consider people like Kefty Kreh, Stu Apte, Del Brown, Winston Moore, to name a few, "Pro" tyers.

They have name recognition, they have patterns to their credit, they are very good tyers, they do seminars, demonstrations, write and speak about fly tying.

You should know the ins and outs of fly tying along with the proper use of mateials. You need to know about hydro dynamics and areo dynamics. You need to be able to demonstrate and talk intelligently about fly tying. Fly design is another area that you will need to know and that goes with the dynamics of the flies.

I could go on and on about real and so called "Pro" tyers but to sum all of this up - Let your actions speak for themselves and if the people who count think that you are a "Pro" tyer then I would consider myself to be one.

Watch out that you do not get caught in the trap that so many have, in that you will do whatever, whenever, to whoever to get to where you want to be.

Yep, I am back on my soap box!!

TAke your time, do a good job, be ethical and the rewards will come.

12-07-2003, 07:55 AM
thanks for the info

12-07-2003, 05:46 PM

Thanks for adding the rest of the very important info I left out of my answer.


The other thing you should do is learn to tie a lot of different fly styles well. The best tyers are all capable of tying a lot of different styles of fly and are not limited to the style they may be known for. Learning to tie many styles well also greatly expands your knowledge of materials and how to manipulate them.

One last tip: the best thing you can do to enhance your tying skill is to never tie fewer than 1/2 dozen of any given pattern and size. Doing this will cause you to repeat the tying sequences mutltiple times; it will also teach you how to tie with the fewest thread wraps necessary for the fly to stay togehter; and it will teach you about fly porportions because through repeating the fly 6 times, you will either have 6 poorly proportioned flies, or you will alter the proportions on the next fly until it looks right.

12-08-2003, 02:33 PM
i already do the 6 fly thing just so if the fly works i won't have to worry about losing a fly while fishing and i have noticed the proportion stuff

i would like to become a pro tyer but i am thinking that it is going to be a while before i am even able to (only 17 years old)

12-08-2003, 02:45 PM
Proficient, ties a lot of well tied flies quickly
Prolific, ties a lot of flies, mostly good ties,
Procrastinator, like me, waits till the day before to tie the flies needed tomorrow
Proverbial, talks a lot about flies, may not tie a lot
Promoter, likes to sell his own
Prominent, well known for his creations
Prodigious, simply amazing

I know several Pro's/commercial tyers who make and sell one or two patterns and make upwards of 25,000 flies a year. Other only handle custom orders from select clients or by referral.

All of this to say that there is a world of opportiunity and challenge in being/becoming a "PRO".
Just stick with it and good things will happen!

12-08-2003, 03:28 PM

Are you asking about becoming a professional or being qualified and designated as a "Master"???

12-08-2003, 03:32 PM
Ya'll do not really want to start on the "Master" tyer bit do you?? Because if so, I will have to ad my hundred dollars worth!!

12-08-2003, 03:36 PM
i am asking whant qualifications are needed to be known as a profesional tyer

12-08-2003, 05:03 PM

I think that flytyer and I covered just about everything that you need to know about becoming a pro tyer.

I tied commerically (full time) for almost 10 years and got burned out. We (my wife and I) tied everyday, 7 days a week and could not keep up.

I wrote a couple of articles ont he commericaly end of things. If you are interested here is the address to one of them.

There are some other articles in that section that you might find enlightening as well.

I encourage anyone that thinks they want to be a "Pro Tyer" to go for it. Just remember that it takes time and that it is a hard row to hoe - if you do it right.

If I can help you in any way, email me and I will do what I can.

12-08-2003, 08:49 PM
thanks for your replies

12-08-2003, 09:13 PM
I will say that anyone that can sit there all day, every day and turn them out has my respect. While I'm not to good at it I love to tie flies but I could never do it for a living.

12-08-2003, 09:24 PM
i want to start my own fly shop in the future dont know when or where but i plan to
maybe norfolk CT right in the middle of the housy and the farmington

12-08-2003, 11:33 PM
I could give you a ton of advice.. But first let me say that I think it's great that you are aiming for something like this...but remember your back-up plan so to speak..I am not sure how old you are..but if you are young, concentrate on your education first...your general education and take in all that is offered to you and what you aim a whole...keep your love of tying as a hobby..maybe your first but as a hobby.... Read everything you can about the history of fly tying and talk to fly shop owners who are older than you... once you have a family you need to have your ducks in order..somewhat... That means to say that you should be staddling a couple roads... feel things out...don't get discouraged ..but don't take a losing proposition because of stubborness....There are a ton of people you will read and hear about who kept to their goal and even with insurmountable odds..did make it... but you don't hear about those that don't make it... Americans loves a winner and those are the stories you hear about. Don't make something you love into a drudgery.... so be careful...but have fun... first and foremost... tie because you love it..not to make money at it... it may come to that and that would be great.. Learn to be a student of flytying... make it your art form...don't be satisfied with the flies you see...make your own creations... but you have to master the tying techniques already agonized over and discovered by those before you. Lean by their mistakes....look around you. Peter Lynch..the super investment analyist for Fidelity investments did just that.... While shopping in a supermarket he watched women empting out a obscure shelf of pantyhose..called "l'eggs" packaged ina plastic egg shaped canister. He observed..not at his desk, but looked at simple human nature... and the rest is history. Learn by doing...have your long range goals in your thoughts..but not your foremost thoughts...there is a lot of ground to cover and a lot to experience...let the chips fall..but TRY to make your luck by hard work and learning first... the rest will come.

12-09-2003, 12:45 AM
just a few thoughts on turning pro, I used to sell a lot of flies, I don`t anymore. # 1, take a look at E-bay and see how many people are out there trying the same thing. #2 materials, notice the look on someones face when you tell them that the hook cost .75 cents and the rest of the material cost about a buck and that it took you a half hour to tie the fly what with two coats of epoxy.You can`t work for less than minimum wage so you have to get 6 bucks a fly! They look at you like your trying to rob them. Of course you can always take shortcuts but then the final product is no better than the stuff you can get out of Thailand for a buck and a quarter. #3 you had better develop a hard skin because sure as shootin some people who have trouble tying thier shoes are gonna tell you all the things your doing wrong and how to do it better.
I tie hundreds and hundreds of flies every year, somtimes I barter them for equipment, mostly I just give them away. The aquaintances and friends I`ve made are worth far more than the few paltry bucks i made. My spirit is richer the way I do things now.

12-09-2003, 11:46 AM
To what Slinger has portrayed.

First off, I'm hoping you were OVER dramatizing costs. Since if you did do it professionally (I'm saying those who truly have started a business with a business license, all forms, and getting distributors) you won't be paying that much per hook. Unless they are some huge specialty hook that normally go for twice that.
Second, for most part the guys on ebay are trolling for customers. They don't go to a local level and build up customers from there. It's how I started. I have plenty of customers to keep me busy, but not so busy I'm tying full time (it's a side business for me). Plus, if you use quality materials, and produce a quality product, you'd be surprised what people would be willing to pay for a fly. You have cheap people, and you have those who want quality. You couldn't imagine how many want quality flies and will pay the money for them. Plus, if you plan to tie professionally, you best get to producing quality flies at a decent rate. Not lightning fast, but more then 2 an hour (per your example). Unless you're talking full dress atlantic salmon flies, then that's different. But the price you'll fetch for those is WELL worth it, if you are good enough to get clients to buy (I'm nowhere near that good, I'll admit that).
Lastly, of course you have to have somewhat of a tough skin in any business. That's life in general. You can take pride in your product, but it's what you do with your criticsm that makes/breaks you. I've had customers complain about flies, and I've had them praise and cherish them like they were work of arts. BUT, funny how the one's who complain keep buying on a regular basis. You simply have people who are born to complain, no matter what.

I have to agree with Flytyer. What he says is spot on. All I have to say is start small. Do what I did. I was a "semi pro" when I was your age. I was tying for friends and family. I wouldn't do it for pay, what I'd do is an exchange. They set how many flies they wanted, then I told them how much material to get and what. I kept the extra, they got their flies. By the time I was 18, I had quite the collection of stuff. Finally, after tying for my family, then family friends, then their friends, and their friends friends, I opted to actually start a business. Helped me alot, and really upped my profit margin. I will say, it's not a "galmour" job. And after you've tied the 100th size 2 green butt skunk, you may want to pull your hair out and say "I QUIT!!!", knowing you have another 900 to go. That's why I don't tie for shops, only clientele. I can vary the variety to what they want, and not tie the same fly over, and over, again.

12-09-2003, 12:10 PM
I will add my final two cents worth in this, for what it is worth.

I tied wholesale for almost 10 years. Most of the major shops that dealt in saltwater were my customers and what really got me that far was QUALITY. Others have said that but, for the most part, quality is what everyone is after.

You might can buy a fly for $2.00 and use it twice. You can buy a fly for $3.50 and use it ten times. Which is the better value.

There are some that look for the lowest price and you do not want those peole - period. They will try and get you to lower your prices to get their business. You have to stand firm. Eventually, they will either pay your price or go somewhere else. If you cut your prices to one, then you are on the road to having to cut your prices to everyone.

I had several shops that tried to get me to lower my prices saying that they could get them somewhere else for less money. I asked them to compare quality side by side and there was no comparision. Quality sells. One of those shopping for the lowest price eventually became a customer and the others did not. Those particualr shops lost business because of the quality of thieir products.

We finally got to where we could not take on any new BIG customers even if they wanted to pay the price. We had a set price and that is what we sold our flies for.

After 10 years of tying every day and thousands of dozens of flies, I just up and walked out one day. Closed the door and did not touch anything to do with tying for almost 3 years. Talk about burn out.

Now, I tie for a few friends, my web site and a few to sell retail.

As a part time job to supplement your income, it is great. To make a living full time tying is a very hard endeavour.

There is, in my opinion, a big difference between a "Fly Tyer" and a "Tyer of Flies".

12-09-2003, 03:36 PM
thanks for all of the help
just a little about myself
17 years old been tying for 5 years junior in high school and planing on going to UW stevens points college major in biology of some sort maybe a little entemology too plan on getting a job witht the DNR and slowly build up and start my fly shop
maybe do some sports writing

12-09-2003, 08:43 PM

Steelheader69 provided very wise counsel with his suggestion that you tie flies for friends and family for several years and having them buy some of the materials you need or want in exchange for the flies is a great way to get good quality materials.

I tried tying commercially for a few shops when I went to Penn State back in the early 1970's as a part-time job. I quit after 1 year because I didn't have enough time to study and most weekends were spent tying flies. Therefore, I would caution you against making that same mistake.

Joe also provided very wise counsel in his comments about providing customers with the highest quality flies. This is what a tyer's reputation is built on and it is what leads to sales. He also provided wise counsel in telling you that you need to set your price and not sell for less, ever, regardless of the amount of pressure a shop or individual submits you to.

What Steelheader69 said about what happens after tying 10 dozen Green Butt Skunks in #2 and then having to start in on 20 dozen in #4 is accurate. It tends to wear you down and as Joe succinctly put it "you get burned out" if all you do is tie flies.

Getting the business license and state resale tax number (along with paying your federal, state, and FICA taxes on your sales) is the only way to make a good profit. And buying your materials in huge quantities is also a key to making profit on tying flies. This means buying hooks by the 1,000 of a single size and type, buying marabou by the pound, deer tail by the pound of broken tails and pieces, threads by the dozen, floss by the dozen, tinsel by the dozen, peacock herl by the once, etc. And you have to pay attention to how much you are spending on materials or else all of your "profit" will be going into more materials.

People have a great misconception about how much money fly tyers earn per fly or per dozen and you will even have folks come up to you outside of a store you may have just dropped 30 or 40 dozen flies off to who will ask to buy flies from you at the wholesale price you sell to the store because "they are tired of getting ripped off" for flies. Never, and I mean never, agree to do this with these "bargain hunters". Instead, tell them that you would be glad to sell to them at your retail price (which might even be a little higher than the store's). I never had any of them take me up on that offer.

Bottom line, you can make money on flies; but it is not an easy dollar. It takes hard work and years of practice to have each of your flies be of the same high quality. And it takes a lot a of hard work and personal discipline to tie when other things are competing for your attention.

My final word to you is that there are a lot of pretenders out there who talk about tying flies and making money from doing so; however, there really are not that many in any given area of the country who have actually earned profits of $6,000.00 in a year from the flies they tie.

Capt. Mel Simpson
12-11-2003, 09:46 AM
SDH, keep your vision and remember this; Randall Kaufman and Dennis Black tied commercially while they were in college, thats Randall Kaufman of Kaufman's Streamborn Flies and Dennis Black of Umpqua Feather Merchants!

I did it for 5 years partime to pay for my flyfishing travels while my son was in an expensive college and I made about $5k a year at it so it's not too bad.

Good luck, Mel

12-11-2003, 02:11 PM
once again thankyou