Are Internet Flies the Deal They're Made Out to Be?

Every week, it seems, I get an e-mail from an overseas fly manufacturer offering to sell me patterns at outrageously low prices. It's usually a formal letter, kind of like the ones that tell me I've won the lottery in some small west African country (and all I have to do to collect my award is wire several hundred bucks to the esteemed lottery agent...).

Today, I saw an e-mail from a company (I'm not printing the name, because I don't want to be responsible for sending readers toward a scam if it is one) that said I could buy beadhead nymphs for $2.84 per dozen. That's what it said...less than three bucks for a dozen flies. Streamers are priced at $2.44 per dozen.

I still think I'll pass, thank you very much. For one, I cannot help but wonder what the factory conditions are in Kenya, or Sri Lanka, or wherever those flies are made. I don't know how long it takes you to tie a dozen flies, but doing the math, factoring in the price of materials (if they are decent materials to begin with), it's hard to see how the people spinning up those bugs are making more than pennies per hour. You may be more of a capitalist than I am, but I think about those things.

And quality is a concern. Someone (I honestly forget who) once told me they bought these super-cheap flies over the Internet, and while he was pleasantly surprised to receive his shipment in prompt order, he discovered that those flies were just that...super cheap. In the first dozen Prince nymphs he fished, three hooks broke, and three others came unwound shortly after the first casts.

Then again, I have had other people tell me they swear by the screaming deal Internet flies, and can't imagine why anyone would buy bugs at a fly shop for two or three bucks a pop. But that's an entirely different, er, can of worms...

I'm interested to hear what the Fly Talkers have to say about this.