When I first got started fly fishing one of my favorite things to do was hang out in local fly shops in Salt Lake City. I had a few that I frequented, and I used any excuse I could come up with to make a trip to them.
While I was in the stores I’d ask questions, listen, and learn. People who love to fly fish love to talk about fly fishing, and when you’re just getting started, that’s one of the best resources you can find. I learned more just from talking to fishermen than I ever would have expected.
As a business student, I also began to notice how a fly shop makes its money. I saw the expensive rods, reels, waders and clothes, but I rarely saw anyone buying that stuff. They walked past the displays of the latest and greatest gear, and went straight for the flies.
See, a fly shop is similar to a printer company. Printer companies sell super high tech printers for relatively low prices, but charge a fortune for paper and ink. People don’t buy printers often, but they buy ink all the time.
Fly fishing shops don’t sell a ton of gear because fly fishermen don’t go around destroying their rods and reels. Fly fishermen do, though, have a tendency to wrap their flies around trees, drop them in the water, and even sometimes hook them into fishes’ mouths.
So, if he plans on doing a lot of fishing, a fly fisherman needs to have a lot of flies.
In the past, that left fishermen with two options: spend hours and hours laboring over a vise making his own flies, or going to the store and spending the money. I for one don’t have the time or patience to tie my own flies, so I always opt for the second option.
But in recent years, there has been a rise in online fly shops that sell large amounts of flies at prices that are typically lower than traditional stores’.
There are a lot of these websites out there, but a lot of them sell flies that are far from being high quality. I’m going to avoid discussing those, and instead talk about (our short list of) best place to buy flies online.
The Fly Crate
The Fly Crate launched in back in 2016.. They are a Monthly Fly Club box subscription and Online Fly Shop based in Pennsylvania with a focus on providing fly fisherman with amazing trout flies, tips, and extras each month.
They ship to thousands of customers in North America.
One of the reasons we like The Fly Crate is that they donate flies to help rehabilitate disabled veterans and make annual donations to help support fly fishing youth camps. Business with a social purpose!
One of the largest online fly companies, and one of the most respected, is Big Y Fly Company who has been selling their hand tied flies since 1992.
The company focuses on maintaining the highest possible quality, what customers expect when buying hand tied flies, while maintaining the low cost associated with online retailers. And by all accounts, they’ve been successful.
In my experience, and the experience of my fishing buddies, the Big Y Fly Company flies are just as high quality as what I would buy in my local fly shops (and much better than anything I could tie myself).
Their website sells all the fly fishing gear anyone could possibly need, but their fly selection is what they’re known for. You can search for flies based on the type of insect, the location you’re fishing in, the species of fish you’re targeting, or by the tactic you’re using.
This is immensely helpful for beginner fly fishermen who don’t have a clue what kind of flies to use.
The company has over 1,000 patterns in total, with new patterns added monthly as their experts experiment with new designs. And they maintain a stock of over 600,000 flies, so your order will be ready whenever it is placed. It fact, Big Y Fly will even ship your order the day of purchase.
And if you’re not satisfied, they offer a 100% money back guarantee on all of your purchases.
Another option for cheap, quality flies online is Orvis.
Orvis is one of the oldest and most respected brands in the fly fishing industry, so you know that their flies are going to be good. While these aren’t as low priced as some competitors, they are still significantly cheaper than what you’ll find in most stores.
Their flies are organized online by target fish species as well as fly types, such as wet, dry, and emergers.
Orvis does not hand tie their own flies, but outsources their labor to Kenya. They still maintain a high quality, but this is something to consider.
Another online fly store is FlyDealFlies.com. I have not personally ordered from this company, but I’ve talked to fishermen who have.
The consensus is that this is one of the cheapest places you can buy flies on the internet, but you get what you pay for. The flies will look good and fish will take them, but they are prone to wearing down quickly even from just casting.
My advice would be to avoid ordering flies from here unless you go through flies quickly already. It’s also a good option for trying out new patterns that you aren’t sure will work where you’re fishing.
Amazon for Online Flies?
Yes, even Amazon has a great selection of flies. There’s a good amount of crap on there as well, but there are a good number of solid flies and deals to be found as well.
Click the image below to see one of our recent purchases that we recommend.
Best Place to Buy Flies Online
Of course, there are other online fly shops out there, but those are the best and the cheapest that we’ve found. If you choose to order flies from a different website you may be sacrificing quality to save money. So do your research before you send an order.
If you do order flies from any of these companies, or from another, let us know how they work for you. Take pictures of the fish you catch and send them to us! We can’t always be fishing, so we live vicariously through our readers sometimes.
And if you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments below and share it with your friends.
(Writer’s note: Every time I’ve walked into a fly shop I’ve fallen deeper in love with fly fishing. In them I have met incredible people who shared their knowledge and time with me for no reason other than that we share a common passion. I have no problem with people who order flies online; in fact, I sometimes do it myself, but please continue to support your local fly shops. This is a tough world for all small businesses, and I would hate to see this species go extinct).