Published Feb 26. 2012 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 8. 2020

The African fly connection

Here at the Global FlyFisher we get offers to buy flies all the time. 95% come from Nairobi in Kenya.

We seem to attract African fly tying operations like... well like a certain, smelly substance attracts flies.

We try our best to tell everyone that we're not a business, not a shop, not an ad-carrying site, not a real magazine and altogether not commercial at all.
We still get a ton of inquiries about everything from availability of specific products over catalogs to free samples of our "magazine". Needless to say that we are generally unable to provide any of these things.
We also get the occasional mail from some obscure Chinese gear or clothing manufacturer who seems to think that we ought to sell their miserable products - usually baitfishing equipment, hooks for commercial fishing or even nets!

But one type of inquiry or offer is clearly dominant, and that typically comes from a Joseph, Alice or some Mr. Wetende operating out of Africa - Nairobi, Kenya in 95% of the cases - and offering dirt cheap flies for us to sell.

Like most other spam mails these are in many ways annoying, but they are also a source of almost endless entertainment and I usually offer them a bit of attention.
They are really poorly written in pretty helpless English, and mostly offering low prices over anything else.

Here's a few examples.
This one is very typical:

The NN-fly is a professional fishing fly company located in East Africa Nairobi Kenya.
Our mission is to supply the best quality of fishing flies to our customers.
For those who are willing to undertake any businesses with us now or in the future;you can be assured of.
1.Engaging with long-time experienced fishing fly tiers
2.Free sampling packages for these who want to make orders
3.Negotiable prices and flexible shipping alternatives and business transaction methods.
Please for any further business partnership,shipment or inquiries kindly contact.

There's mail and phone numbers, but no web sites, references, catalogs or pictures attached (and thanks for that!). But as a serious business approach! I wonder if they ever get any responses?

Another one:

Dear sir/madam,
We are manufactures and exporters of high quality hand-tied fishing flies based in Kenya.We have been among the leading fly tiers over the years with a clear demonstration of quality by the hooks,materials and the tying standard applied.

Orders are delivered conveniently as agreed,our prices are very reasonable and we work to strict deadlines.We can help decrease your costs while increase your profits,we are specialized in all trout flies,salmon/steel heads,saltwater's/pikes and bass bugs.We also do custom tying[whereby you can send flies pictures of your choice,we will dub and tie exactly]please contact us for complete price-list and our working method.Best regards,

"whereby you can send flies pictures of your choice,we will dub and tie exactly". Yup, send us a pic and we will send you flies that look like it. Sure!
Pictures and flies like these, maybe?

Ring a bell?

Another one:

Dear Customer,
How are you doing, This is Nnn fishing flies factory located in Kenya, along Kikuyu Road opposite Dagorette feed the children home.
We tie hand craft fishing flies, our quality is high quality and we have some customers which are enjoying our quality with fordable price,Like, MR.Nnn Nnn, from UK, he is enjoying our quality flies with low price, another one is Nnn Nnn from Italy, we have work with him almost three year now, no even single day he has complain to us.
Now it is your time to join us and test our quality. We deliver our customers parcels in time and we sale our flies in Dozens.

"located in Kenya, along Kikuyu Road opposite Dagorette feed the children home" in case you want to stop by for a cup of coffee!
And notice the reassuring
"we have work with him almost three year now, no even single day he has complain to us."

no even single day he has complain to us

The Ladies of the Vice at least have a good story and a cause:

Dear Sirs,
May we take this early opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and advice that we are a small scale fly tying facility operated by women. We are looking to expand our flies business hence our endeavor to contact you. Our fly-tying initiative is based in Kenya.

The fly tying business in Kenya is dominated by few rich individuals. Due to high level of poverty, unemployment and poor financial status of the population here, the fly tiers are perpetually exploited, underpaid and over-worked by employing companies. The tiers who are the backbone of these thriving and lucrative international trade earn meager wages, lack job security etc. Their skills, sweat and expertise facilitates, the moneyed to swim in riches while the tiers wallow and drawn in poverty. Most of us in this group have been working for such flies companies before. We have decided to split and start our own initiative. "LADIES ON THE VISE FLY TYING FACILITY" to remedy the above short comings. Our initiative is therefore owned, managed and operated by us the members.

All our flies are tied with quality materials and by qualified lady fly tiers. You have probably fished with our flies but paid upward of up to 200% or more for them .Below find our wholesale selling prices for the year 2011-2012. All our flies are sold in dozen:

NB: the above prices are when we supply complete product providing both hooks and materials. But if a client avails some basic materials, our price to them reduces accordingly.

Sirs, since fly fishing sport is popular in your country/region, we would be honored to go into a fly's business relationship with you where by we hand tie top quality flies and supply the same to you for use or re-sale. If you are not in this business and know those who find its addictive powers, please don't hesitate to introduce us to them.

Providing you with the higher quality flies, at inexpensive wholesale prices is therefore the right start. Are you interested? Let us just say, checking us out will be your reward since our quality and prices are second to none!! We look forward to a favorable response from you.

Attached, find pictures of some of the flies we tie.

        Thanks, Happy fly fishing and tying,

       LYDIA ,

"Their skills, sweat and expertise facilitates, the moneyed to swim in riches while the tiers wallow and drawn in poverty"
Well, I know Africa is a hard place to live, but it's hard not to be a bit cynical when you read stuff like that.
And I love the fact that the document with "some of the flies we tie" contained watermarked pictures from assorted web sites and a pattern from GFF!
The ladies' flies... not! Notice the caddis larva lower right. Recognize it?

To be fair, there are some who can both write English, take pictures and seem to be able to tie flies.

Dear Customer

I want to be your supplier of top quality flies for fishing. I have a medium factory here in Kenya employing 25 full time tiers with the capacity to make 1000 dozens of flies per week. My rates are very competitive because we charge USD xx per doz. only on all trouts flies including wets, nymphs, dries and streamers without beads. Beaded or copper head trouts cost USD xx per doz while the double hooked salmon flies cost only USD xx per doz.

We have attached some photos of our best tied samples and would be happy to hear from you. We can send you a few flies for testing if you send me your delivery address.
I promise you the best service, fast delivery and top quality flies.
Please let me know if you could be interested in business cooperation.

Have a nice day

This one has both a reasonably formatted price list and some well shot pictures of what seems to very very nicely tied flies. We're still not interested, but there might actually be some one in Nairobi who can tie flies - even tube flies - as you can see here.


I got a lot of sampl...

I got a lot of samples and they look good ,I even wrote to them and asked what kind of hooks they use.they seems to know all the hook companies .they want me to send them money first , but when I told them I pay by PayPal,
I never hearted from them again
At first I tough they were for real but when I saw that caddis larva bottom right I know they are ford
Thank you for shearing that with us

no even single day i...

no even single day indeed

Funny stuff. Typical...

Funny stuff. Typical of the Kenyans.

I am American currently living in Nairobi, Kenya for two years. I have been trying to find these tyers but, no luck so far. I know there are some tyers here because I see a few flies (or earrings) in stores around stores in the city. Nobody can ever tell me where they come from. Easter, I have a trip planned for flyfishing in the Mount Kenya area. The search will contunue there.

Hoping to trade for some exotic African feathers, if they are ever found.

african flys...

im about to do a deal. i got my samples. there badass. but what about the legitamacy of this. is this for real? this article has me in the air. the flys are legit though

Martin Joergensen's picture

Legit or not?...


I have no idea whether your connection is legit. I have never done any business with African tyers (or other tyers for that matter) and judging whether the connection works or not is fully up to you. But having samples at least indicates that someone ties flies and that flies exist, and I do know lots of shops and distributors that do buy from Africa, so of course it's possible that everything is OK.


flies from Kenya...

There are a number of very good suppliers in Kenya, i have used Fly fishing Kenya a number of times and have never been disappointed. I know of a few others that get their flies from the same area and try to pass them off as hand tied locally, the world loves a trier.


African Fly Connection...

I feel compelled to comment on your piece "African Fly Connection". Firstly some very good flies come out of Kenya, although I suspect that not all are, just as not all flies anywhere are top class. Secondly I would suggest that the average level of English from the correspondents (almost certainly a second language) clearly exceeds the grammatical abilities of at least one of your commentators. I would further point out that I am pretty sure that many of the flies that are sold in US shops come from Africa or the East and are sold at a pittance compared to the shelf cost in your local fly shop. But the really sad thing is that your headline vilifies and entire continent based on a bit of spam. There are plenty of competent Fly Anglers, Fly Casters and Fly Tyers in various African countries. It is incredibly difficult to do small amounts of business with the US, simply getting paid is a nightmare, as to suggesting Pay Pal, well I can't stop laughing, come to Africa and try to deal with Pay Pal.. So whilst we all get annoyed by spam, be it from Chinese hook manufacturers or Kenyan Fly Tyers it isn't reasonable to tar everyone with the same brush and denigrate an entire continent based on a couple of emails. Kindest regards Tim Rolston

Martin Joergensen's picture

I know Africa is not a country...


I know that Africa is a continent and not something that should be viewed as a single entity. There's a huge difference between the different countries, but for my headline, I chose to simplify things. And I don't think my headline vilifies anybody to be honest. The post is about the connection between Africa and flies.

And to say that it's based on a "bit of spam" just shows that you obviously don't see what I see in my inbox, in the comments on this site and on my Facebook page. Having a large and popular web site attracts a lot of people, and I prune out messages from people wanting to do business with me on a daily basis. A lot of those are fly tyers based somewhere in Africa. And yes, that might not mean Morocco or South Africa, but to most of the GFF readers Africa is about as much info needed to place it as it is for you to know that I'm based in Europe. There's no derogatory motif behind that, just a wish to make understanding easier.

And sure the English in most of these messages is way better than my Swahili or Yoruba, but that doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to share the funniest ones and poke a bit to those who are clearly not showing their own flies in their marketing.

I am also sure that there are plenty of these operations that deliver excellent flies, and have seen lots of flies come from Africa and Asia, which are easily as good as flies tied in any European of US based flyshop. The post actually both mentions one and shows flies tied by a factory where people clearly both know how to tie flies and how to market themselves.

Regarding payment and logistics in connection with doing business with these manufacturers I have only little knowledge about the options, and I would be the wrong person to give advice on how to transact with them.

Last but not least, I don't think I'm tarring anyone but the businesses I mock and surely not a whole continent – in spite of the headline.

Thanks for your comment.


African Fly Connection...

Thank you for your response Martin. I hope that your recognize that there was no intended animosity in my comment, more simply a desire to redress the balance and add perspective. Unfortunately I know that all too often people don't read or assimilate all that is written, leap to ill based conclusions and before one knows it "Africa" is too dangerous a place to visit or do business with. Sadly many people's grasp of geography is sufficiently limited that they read "Nigeria" and extrapolate to "Africa" and I only wished to point out that this would be an unfair conclusion to reach. Thank you for taking the trouble of a response. Tim Rolston

Martin Joergensen's picture

The way of the world...


I know the problem with most of us judging Africa as an entity. It's like when my US friends are coming to "Europe".

"Well pop by for a cup of coffee while you're in the neighborhood!" in Rome or Madrid. It's only a thousand miles...

I will make sure that I take extra care not to be too general.



I was taught never to mock someones English or grammar. They are multilingual and I am not.

Martin Joergensen's picture



I take the liberty of mocking anybody who pretends to be professional in any language.

English isn't my mother tongue, but anything I write as a pro (which includes GFF in spite of it non-commercial nature), I try to write correctly. I venture into my native Danish, English, sometimes German, Swedish and even French, but I do not master any of these languages perfectly. I speak and write a couple better than the others, but if I'm in doubt, I get the help from someone who does - or simply leave it.

I deeply respect people who master more languages and try to communicate using anything other than their own, but one thing is chatting or mailing as friends or passing acquaintances, another is doing business and being professional. In that case a helpless communication full of errors sends some signals, and it's not one of professionalism.


Kenya Flies...

Dear Martin,
Just to add my two cents worth, I agree with my friend Tim but appreciate you did not intend disrespect and that you were dissing the fly-by-nights rather than the disadvantaged tryers tring to earn a crust despite many having limited IT and educational experience through no fault of their own. As Chairman of the Federation Of Southern African Fishers for north of the Vaal River and also on the board of FishMAP Africa which encompassed Southern and East Africa, I can readily attest to the fact there are some superb international-class tyers within my geographic sphere of influence and that many parties and persons are working together to organise educational programmes of ecological, conservation, biodiversity, water and fishing/flyfishing natures. Severe drought has also compounded the misery especially of those less fortunate than many of us. On a positive note, I am getting great support from many USA flyfishers and groups. Keep up the great site, best wishes, Chris Williams

The African Fly Connection...

Dear Martin,
Thanks for your reply to Tim's and Craig's messages. I agree with their comments but appreciate you were targetting the 'fly-by-nights' as opposed to the genuine disadvantaged sector who are simply trying to earn an honest living - many/most despite lacking a decent education/formal training enabling them to be proficient IT/financials and also fly tying. As Chairman of the Federation Of Southern African Flyfishers (north of the Orange-Vaal River) and also on the EXCO of FishMAP Africa running the fly fishing sector, I get to see first hand the problems within the African Continent as a whole. We are currently finalising free organised educational programmes especially in rural areas involving conservation, water usage, ecological biodiversity, and fishing/flyfishing. Yes, including hands-on fly tying by competent instructors! I must admit I have had a wonderful response internationally including some of my friends in the USA who are providing mobile classrooms made out of shipping containers. Will send you more details in the next month or two, we are just in the throes of finalising the various educational programmes,. Keep up the great work - Global Flyfisher is superb! cheers Chris Williams

The African Fly Connection...

I choose to comment on this post to at least guide the readers here considering that I am from the region and the industry under scrutiny. Fishing flies are produced in Kenya and exported to the west but not without its challenges posed by both buyers and sellers. They include quality issues, duration of delivery as well as payment issues. Before buying large quantities, first request a sample of an assortment of flies for quality assessment, duration of delivery will in most cases be affected by the availability of the materials locally as well as the complexity or simplicity of the patterns requested. Payment issues also arise as buyers sometimes remit payment to just tiers who have no registered company, no website and no production capacity. In such a case money is lost. Some buyers don't pay for delivered orders and again money is lost.


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