I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours down the river yesterday which was met with a number of trout and grayling, and some thoroughly pleasant weather. Whilst I was down there I did the usual ringing of the changes with the fly which also ultimately led to changing casts as every fly change goes through 2-4 inches of leader. During this I noticed a great deal of difference between the quality of flies bought and used, and the differences in quality of leader and leader materials.
Flies are flies are flies – you may think. So untrue. I have recently found a very cheap place for flies on the interweb and invested in a great number of flies prior to the start of the season, based upon the fact that I had no time to tie up my own. At first glance they looked ok – albeit somewhat bulky, and yesterday it was so obvious that they were (generally) rubbish. Not a single fish was caught on a bought fly, instead they were all captured on creations of my own dear hands, in fact when I look back at the season, the majority of fish have been caught on flies of my own creation and not budget interweb flies.
I have to say (in defence of my own store) that all of the flies that I sell I consider to be of good quality, but as I cannot dip into my own stock I have to either buy or tie my own. Therefore like you I am constantly scouring the Internet for good affordable flies. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that generally there aren’t any (present company excepted of course). I rather pride myself in not selling sub-standard goods, whereas obviously my own standards aren’t met by other online retailers – which is a big shame. It may of course be simpler than that and in future I only use flies that i have tied myself that I know will work, but I doubt it as I only buy flies that I know ‘will work’ but unfortunately don’t (if you see what I mean).
Most flies are tied offshore in factories with conditions that lead a lot to be desired. I have no comment on that and I suggest that you make up your own views, however it is safe to say that quantity comes before quality in the majority of cases, which is one of the reasons why I am running down the stock and variety of flies that I sell as I would rather stock fewer quality flies that I have some control over as opposed to dozens of patterns shipped by the hundreds. I wish that other online retailers would stick to the same standards.
Another thing that I noticed yesterday was a propensity for the leader/line to tangle in the same places every time and in the same way, also the fly on many occasions didn’t turn over properly. Now I am not the most expert caster of a fly rod in the world, I wish that I was, however I can generally throw out a good line (the delights of the Snake Roll and the Snap-T still elude me), but I have noticed recently a propensity for problems. Of course the next time out I will look to break down my casting and repair any problems (or at least attempt to), but recently I have changed tapered leader and tippet materials. I have come to the conclusion that they also are problematic. The Frog Hair fluorocarbon tapered leaders seem to not be right, the connections with the tippet materials seem to be too bulky, and the 3lb fluoro is thicker than the tippet end. This of course is my fault, but why should the 3lb tippet be bulkier than the 3lb taper tip? Perhaps I now have to start looking closer at the ‘x’ categorisation of the lines other than weight, but why should there be such a marked difference in quality, even from the same manufacturer? Surely some sense should prevail?
So – before I venture out again I will sort out the terminal end of the line, and tie up some of the flies that I know that I need rather than buy some in – I may even end up invoicing myself and get some of my flies on the end of the line, you see quality matters at the end of the day, and you get what you pay for.
Regarding the casting – I may have to reinvest in some tuition and get the rough edges off my action too, but first I will attempt to sort myself out as I have an idea what’s wrong already – we shall have to see. Of course it’s not the workman but his tools – as we all know, I shall however put some money and time aside for the casting tuition – just in case I am the exception rather than the rule. (I wonder if Jim’s free?)