How to make money in fly fishing

There's a saying in fly fishing. 

How do you make a million dollars by owning a fly shop?  

Answer: start with 2 million dollars!

We know many of you just want to go out and fish and enjoy everything that goes with it, but others out there have a desire to make a few dollars as well.  No matter what camp you're in lets go over a few ways you can make a few bucks in the fly fishing industry.


1.  When I wanted to buy something as a kid my dad's first response was always "GET A JOB!".  Well the same goes here.  Go check out some local companies in the fly fishing industry and apply.  Whether it's your local fly shop, guide business, lodge, etc.  Not only will you make some money there but you'll learn a ton from working with others in the industry and make yourself a better fly fisherman.

2.  Start small.  I have a friend of mine who just got back into fly fishing and he recently started selling flies on Ebay.  He will admit his flies aren't the greatest but he's making a few bucks to buy new gear, and put a few dollars in his pocket.  Don't be afraid to just do a little bit here and there.  Sell some flies, tie some leaders, take some pictures and sell them to companies in the industry, offer to do a review of a product and post a write up or YouTube video on it.  You might get paid or even get some free gear out of it.

3.  Media.  I hinted at it above, but all companies, including fly fishing companies, are desperate for media exposure.  Whether this is a blog, website, social media account, YouTube channel, podcast, or even making a video or taking pictures.  The more followers the better as always.  Some influencers get paid decently for their content and with the right drive you can make it a good part or even full time business.

3. Create something.  See a need in the industry that needs filled?  Go do it!  I've seen some awesome products come by in the industry in the past few years.  Whether its a tool, new fly pattern or technique, or even a website you make to sell products online, get those creative juices running and get it done.  Technology is great with machines like 3d printers, laser engravers, cnc machines, etc that you can get things done a whole lot easier than in the past.  Connect with the right people and you may have a big company knocking on your door wanting to buy your product and sell it by the thousands!

4. Be a professional.  The best teachers in the world are always still learning.  The first step and last step is get educated.  You lose in life when you stop learning.  So you want to be a guide, casting instructor, lodge owner, captain, etc.  Go spend some time learning first and grab a hold of those people that are a wealth of knowledge and don't let go.  They are imperative to you succeeding and in this industry, as many others, the more you know the better your success should follow.


I talk to so many business owners on a regular basis, many in different industries.  The biggest mistake I see out there from people who are struggling to make their businesses succeed is that they have a "passion" for something but don't have the business sense to actually make it succeed.  I don't care if you love fly fishing, if you want to turn it into a job then go get some education. Whether formal business schooling or an apprenticeship under a successful business owner, don't sell yourself short.  You need to know what you don't know and don't be too selfish to think you will just figure it out.  Knowledge is the key to success.


What did I miss?  Comment below on something you may be doing or want to do in making a few bucks in the industry.


As always, check out all of our gear on the site.  New products hitting our Deposit Program, great overall prices on tons of gear from rods, reels, lines, boxes and more and don't forget about our trips!  We have places all over the world to send you.


Professional rambler,

Ryan Gouldsbarry


  • Todd Montgomery

    I’d say you have figured it out. I enjoy your store & service. I’m not impressed easily, but you’ve managed to be one of my 2-3 fly sources. When I need new equipment, you’ll be one of the first I come to. I wish I would have started with you 4 months ago before buying all my gear, spending more than I should have or needed to.

  • Kelly Carpenter

    I started tying flys as a boy using fesant neck fathers. Now I just use party fathers
    From number one to number 14 fish hooks .hammering out copper penny’s for lures .now I want to get more safisticated .making some nice wallets of flys .using one to 10lbs test leaders or so .made in USA maybe has more meaning in C19 . SO I need to develop a simple collection. A small number of stiles . That with catch fist not fancy crap to catch fishermen . Can you point me in the right direction.? I want to use J hooks and circle hooks too thank you .

  • Fly Tyer MIke

    I’d say the only thing I suggest is to wait until your flies are 100% perfect to sell them. You don’t want to get a bad reputation. Be honest and set your prices based on what you value your time at, and don’t ever base them off of others.

    Then go legit and get all the tax formalities set up. The worst part is you pay 10% federal excise tax, then you get taxed on whatever clear profit you make with income tax.

    After being in the game for a while now, it is really tough to turn any real profits when you go Legit. However, the satisfaction of having your flies in over 32 states is awesome, seeing people have success with your patterns is even better. You make a lot of friends and if you’re in it for the reason of seeing others have success and helping them grow as fly fisherman you will do quite well. It can lead into bigger opportunities as it has for me now. I’m grateful for everyone who got me to where I am now, and can only hope to help more people learn and grow in the fly fishing community.


    Hello Ryan. I’ve invited a jig to help fly tyers to do wings on flies. I’ve got a copy rights to it. I also sent one to John McCoy an outdoors writer and haven’t heard anything back. What do you suggest to. Thank you, Ken P.S Great advice thanks for the help.

  • David Gilbert

    Thanks Ryan! This is great advice and will take the information you described and use it for sure!

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