|A popular carp pattern I can't purchase locally, despite how many times I've asked for it.|
For me I spend time tying flies that I can't get at a local shop. I am of the belief that if I can support a shop in my area by purchasing the flies that already exist then I should. That is how many local shops stay in business after all. Sure they love the big sale they get when somebody stops in and buys a new rod, but it's usually all the little purchases that keep the lights on in the long run. So if you want to make sure your local shop stays open buy the common patterns from them, they will surely appreciate it.
Another reason to only tie what you can't buy is cost. I'm not talking about the dollar it costs you pick up a black Wolly Bugger or a couple Parachute Adams. I'm referring to what your time costs. My time is special to me, to my family, to my clients, to my business. When you run the numbers it is almost impossible to tie the workhorse patterns cheaper than you purchase them. For most of us when we sit down at the bench we are immediately losing money. I'm not saying it isn't relaxing or enjoyable, just that it isn't cost effective.
Some of you are probably thinking that I'm delusional at this point. Many are thinking, "By learning how to tie the classic nymph and streamer patterns I'm becoming a better tier." To be fair though I never said not to learn how to tie these patterns. I said, don't tie the ones you can buy. A quick Google search of nymph patterns gave me hundreds of effective flies to learn to tie that I can't buy locally. These nymph patterns will teach me the same skills that I would learn tying a Pink Squirrel. The only difference is I can run over to Orvis of Madison or Cabelas and buy a Pink Squirrel. It makes more sense for me to search online for a different bead head nymph pattern that would be just as effective and then buy the materials needed to tie that pattern.
So the next time you sit down at your fly bench or are considering a materials purchase to tie a big batch of streamer patterns consider just buying the patterns you need. Your local shop will thank you, and so will the local economy. Plus if you force yourself to learn new patterns or even just color variations on the classics you'll probably catch more fish. Because every brown trout in the Driftless has already fallen for a Pink Squirrel.