Some really good advice so far. There's been quite a few fly tying posts, including some good advice for learing to tie and regarding materials, so be sure to read back through the last few pages and read all the threads related to tying.
To recap a few points I definitely agree on:
- Try to find someone who ties flies to show you the ropes. It's a big help to see the steps first-hand and to look at the materials. Fly shops are also happy to help.
Stay away from pre-made kits. It's more of a pain to assemble it all yourself, but you'll end up with good tools and materials you'll actually use and not a bunch of so-so stuff you may never have a use for.
But less of better quality, you'll save money in the end and have better flies to show for it.
Also get a good book or two if you're going to be self taught.
There's no limit to how much you can spend on tools and materials other than your own wallet. I'm still constantly (after 21 years now) experimenting with new and different materials and techniques. Fly tying is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE!
My strongest advice... rather than for just going out and buying a bunch of random materials, pick a few patterns you like to fish with and get the materials you need to tie them. Then keep expanding materials as you add to your fly box.
I'd be happy to show you through my collection of materials and demonstrate a few pattern if you make it up to Anchorage at some point. Drop me a PM if you're going to be in town.