Flies from the 3D printer


First things first... Thank you!

Before we look at the exciting possibilities that technology offers today in the field of fly fishing, I would like to start by thanking Markus, Andi and the entire team at 1000 flies. Over the past few years, they have always supported me in word and deed in realising my ideas. It's really fun working with you guys!


The story of my 3D-printed flies began about 10 years ago, when I came across this new technology by chance. My cousin was working as a set designer at the time, and he modelled 3D miniature models on the computer for his clients, which he then printed in small format using a 3D printer so that he could present them in a clear and vivid way.

I was immediately hooked on the technology and bought my first 3D printer in December 2012. The technology is truly fascinating. But like many other enthusiastic users of 3D printers, I soon found myself asking the question: ‘What else can I print?’ After printing biscuit cutters, phone holders and various other more or less superfluous gadgets for Christmas, you soon run out of ideas. Fortunately, I have two daughters, whom I was able to print tons of Anna and Elsa figures and other Disney princesses. But they soon got tired of them too, so I had to come up with a new idea.

In the meantime, spring had come, and the fishing season had begun. Eureka! I had found my new field of activity – flies from the 3D printer!

The first 3D model: mayfly


In the following years, I began to study 3D modelling, 3D printing and materials science in depth. I tested countless silicones, resins and a few more 3D printers, and slowly the range grew.

A stonefly larva: once as a 3D model...

... and as a finished fly pattern


The reasons why 3D printing and fly fishing are a perfect match are obvious. There are numerous advantages:

  1. Lightweight: Through precise design, 3D-printed flies can be lightweight yet durable, improving presentation in the water.
  2. Complex designs: realistic imitations can be more easily realised, which increases the chances of catching fish.
  3. Reproducibility: 3D printing allows for the creation of exact copies of fly patterns, thus enabling consistent results.
  4. Innovation opportunities: The flexibility of 3D printing means that innovative designs can be easily tested and optimised. This results in more effective patterns.
  5. Colour variety: 3D printing allows the use of a wide range of colours, which means that the colour of the insects can be imitated very accurately.
  6. Durability: High-quality 3D printing materials can offer good durability.
  7. Precision: The precise control over the design allows for fine-tuning of details such as size, shape and weight, which can be used to influence properties such as buoyancy or sinking behaviour in a very targeted manner.
  8. Innovative textures: 3D printing can be used to create different textures and surface structures to make the fly more attractive in the water.
  9. Willingness to experiment: it is easy to try out new ideas and create innovative designs, which can lead to a creative and experimental approach to fly fishing.

What is written and read here so easily does not come about automatically. Especially at the beginning, the first results were modest and not yet what I had imagined. Changing, testing, further optimising and, above all, a lot of perseverance were necessary to actually implement and use the above-mentioned advantages in my fly patterns.

When creating a new pattern, you always have to weigh up the realistic appearance against the functionality. First, I spend a lot of time at the computer optimising the 3D models.

The next step is the 3D printing itself. This is where it becomes clear whether the design on the computer is also suitable for printing. Factors such as layer thickness, exposure time, room temperature during printing, the resin used, etc. influence the result. Many small parameters that have to be taken into account if you want to achieve a perfect result.

‘Freshly hatched’ beetles

Then comes the creative part, painting the patterns and attaching the legs, feelers, etc.

A little tip on the side: you get the best results when painting with an airbrush set.

A selection of my patterns, which you can also buy from 1000flies.com, can be seen here:


My latest patterns are mainly terrestrials. My printers work with a layer thickness of 0.02 mm on the Z-axis. This allows you to print larger insects such as beetles with a hollow body, which gives them excellent buoyancy. With a little acrylic paint, these bodies can be painted by any fly fisherman. This is a very easy way to create realistic and catchy patterns that are adapted to the conditions on the water.

I am currently testing a dry fly in the form of a firefly (Lampyridae) with a phosphorescent abdomen. I am curious to see what the trout will think of it.

Prototype of a firefly

As is often the case when you are a pioneer and suddenly do things differently from the way they have been done up to now, you will also hear the odd critical voice. Every now and then I hear criticism of my flies, saying that the materials used for them and therefore the fly patterns have nothing to do with conventional flies. I respect this view, of course, but I cannot really understand these arguments. Every innovation in materials and manufacturing technology for the rest of the fly-fishing equipment is celebrated. Our fly rods are made of state-of-the-art carbon fibre, our fly lines of PVC, Teflon or Kevlar and the leaders of fluorocarbon. Even the hooks are chemically sharpened. So why shouldn't we use the possibilities of technology for the flies as well?


What will be possible in the future is written in the stars, but developments in this area are currently taking place at a rapid pace. New printers are coming onto the market almost every month, and with the increasing number of printable materials, new and impressive features and properties can be utilised again and again. Challenges that would have been impossible a year ago due to technical limitations are suddenly no longer a problem. If my story has sparked your interest, take a look at the 1000flies online shop. You will find a wide range of my patterns here, and maybe one or two of the flies from the 3D printer will find their way into your fly box!

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Bernhard Alvarez Sanchez
Bernhard Alvarez Sanchez
Fly Fisherman, Fly tyer
Job: Developer and manufacturer of 3D-printed flies
Hobbies: Travelling, diving, observing nature
The element of water and its creatures have fascinated Bernhard from an early age. Although he never realised his childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist, he still loves being on and in the water. Be it diving, sailing, surfing or fly fishing. Bernhard got into fly fishing around 15 years ago. Spending time on the river is the perfect way for him to switch off from everyday life.
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