Read First Fly Swaps 101 Read before your first swap!

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Staff member
Sep 30, 2021
Camillus, NY
Fly swaps can be a great experience. You can meet new site buddies, improve your tying skills, and increase your fly pattern collection just to name a few!

Here are the basics steps of a fly swap. A person (AKA the Swap Host/Swapmeister) will post a swap on the site. It will include the theme of the swap, date that you need to register by, and date the flies need to be sent to the host. If interested then just reply to that swap thread and you are in. The number of flies you need to send will normally equal the number of total participants - i.e. - in a swap with 12 total signed up you will tie 12 flies of the pattern you chose to follow the swap theme. The host will then devide the flies up and you will get back 1 fly for every person in the swap.

Here is what you'll need to send to the host - your flies with toe tags, a swap box, your sending envelope, and a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope).

Toe tags - a toe tag can be a slip of paper, card stock, or 2 MM foam. It needs at minimum your screen name and the name of your pattern either typed/printed or hand written. You need one tag per fly and the tag is attached to the fly. This can be as simple as hooking the fly onto the tag. HINT: Most tyers will debarb their hooks or if you use use barbless hooks. To keep the paper tag from separating from the fly fold the end of the tag over and poke the hook through BOTH thicknesses of paper. The paper will make a hinge and this will help keep the tag and the fly together!

Swap box - Any plastic or metal container that is big enough to hold your flies and protect them in transit. If you want THE example of a box here are two words - Altiods tin! The box can be open or have compartments (like a fishing lure pocket box). This box must have at least your screen name on it - just imagine a Swapmeister receiving 6 identical Altoids tins and you can see why the name is important!

Sending envelope - a padded or unpadded envelope that is large enough to hold your fly box and return (SASE) envelope in. You'll find that if you use envelopes on the larger side things will work better for you (and NO the postage will not increase any!) You will get the address from your swap host when you register for the swap. Please include your SCREEN name in the return address section of your envelope. Most freshwater pattern swaps run around 3.5 ozs./105 grams total mailing weight. If in the US here's a nice site to use to figure your postage -, if in Canada -

Return (SASE) envelope -Simply a second envelope for the Swapmeaister to send your set of flies back to you (Yep, you pay the postage!). The postage will be the same on this envelope as it is on your sending envelope. Again, it is good to err on the side of a larger rather than smaller envelope (sometimes the host will include something extra for participating in a swap as a thank you). Just address it to yourself (AGAIN, including your screen name) and it is a VERY GOOD idea to include your address in the return address section as well for added security. Why the screen name on everything - the host uses this to cross-reference everything and keep things straight!

Your flies - What ever pattern you chose to meet the swap criteria - each with it's own toe tag already attached.

That's it - all the basics of what you need to do to participate in a swap. One thing, swap hosts volunteer to run these swaps (usually as a labor of love!). Some experienced swappers will include an extra fly or two as a thank you gift for hosting the swap - it's not required but it is a nice gesture!

If you have any general questions on swapping please feel free to contact me (WWKimba) and I'll be happy to help you out. I am a former instructor and ALWAYS believed in the credo - "The ONLY DUMB question is the UNASKED ONE!" - so don't be shy! If you have quetions on a particular swap feel free to contact that HOST of that swap - THAT's WHY THEY ARE THERE!

Lastly, HAVE FUN! It's probably the best reason to join a swap!
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