Fly tying requires some basic equipment, a fly pattern to follow or replicate, and the appropriate materials for the particular fly pattern selected. Fly tying equipment enables the fly tyer to efficiently and effectively assemble and secure the materials on the hook. Fly tying materials were originally limited to various furs, feathers, threads and hooks. Today, many more natural and synthetic materials are used to tie flies. Fly patterns are the instructions or recipe required to create the fly. They specify hook sizes and types, the materials and colors to be used, as well as the sequence to be followed and the assembly methods. There are thousands of possible fly patterns available to the tyer.
Hand-tied flies on the commercial market sell for under a US dollar to several US dollars each. Fly tying is a challenging and rewarding hobby for some, a money-saving strategy for others, and a profitable commercial enterprise for the professional tyer. The professional or commercial fly tyer may produce upwards of 36 thousand flies annually, whereas the amateur fly tyer may tie only a few flies each season for personal use.