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Fly Fishing Flies From Kenya

Updated on October 31, 2013
A skilled fishing fly tier at work in Kikuyu,  on the outskirts of  Nairoibi, Kenya.
A skilled fishing fly tier at work in Kikuyu, on the outskirts of Nairoibi, Kenya. | Source

Flies from Kenya?

It can come as a surprise to game anglers that the fishing flies they are using may have been made in Kenya.

Fly tying is in fact a big industry in this East African nation.

There are many companies producing fishing flies and they draw from a large pool of people skilled in the art.

Flies are supplied in packs of 12 of one pattern, usually in bulk supply to wholesalers and retailers in the European Union and North American markets. Some are sold directly to buyers on Ebay.

A selection of fishing flies and lures made in Kenya


The people in the industry are knowledgeable about the best materials to use and the best hooks. They are happy to use materials provided by their customers, if requested.

Some of the materials used in tying fishing flies in Kenya



In its past Kenya was home to members of the British colonial upper class, who wanted to continue the hunting and fishing pursuits of their estates back home. The former was of course provided by big game, which they pursued with gusto, providing many a head to hang on the wall of the manor back in Blighty. But there were also lakes and rivers in which they could pursue their fly fishing ('game' fishing typically for trout and salmon, as opposed to the 'course' fishing of the common man for roach, chub, tench, bream and carp; in fact this distinction is still made in the UK).

This provides one explanation of why fly tying was introduced in Kenya: To meet the needs of the colonial class, the indigenous population was trained in the art. However, I have also read an explanation that says tying was introduced by missionaries in orphanages to provide their charges with a skill. Probably there are elements of truth in both.

Kenyan fishing fly tiers are fully skilled in their craft


Whatever the history, fishing fly tying is a well-established skill in Kenya. I visited a factory in Kikuyu, not far from the capital of Nairobi and the resulting photos show the tyers in action, working to fulfill their orders from Western markets and supply fishing flies to you!

Fishing flies being packed ready for export


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