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Difference usage for single and 4 stranded floss

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I assume that single strand floss means just exactly what it means just like 4 stranded floss has 4 strands. My question is when is it best to use what strand on what fly? Where is single strand used verses 4 stranded floss? Or maybe I have no idea on what I am talking about on the stranded portion of floss...

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It mostly depends on how much material you need to put on the hook, i.e. what the pattern is. Larger flies or certain body shapes will need more material so you would use the four strand material. Conversely, on a smaller or slimmer pattern, single strand will be appropriate. You can always reduce the number of number of strands from four strand floss for your specific need. In some ways it is more economical since you can separate one, two or three strands out of the four strands.

 

Steve

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In almost every pattern that I tie, I use a single strand floss. I do have a lot of 4 strand floss, but I usually separate the strands and use just one at a time. Many classic wet flies, and streamers have floss bodies, and they are usually quite slender. Two layers of floss is plenty on even a size 6 wet fly, and making these bodies smooth and even is much more easily done with a single strand than with 2 or more strands.

 

The key is to keep the floss flat and aligned so it lays down like a ribbon. Twisted floss will become lumpy, and uneven. While the fish don't really care, the goal should be a very smooth finish on your floss bodies. There can be a gradual built up from tail forward, and exactly how much is a individual style thing.

 

For small patterns like floss bodied soft hackles, very fine floss is used. The single strand Pearsall Marabou Silk Floss is the right material for these.

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As Steve points out 4-stranded floss can be separated into one, two or three strands to match the amount of material needed to build the body. IMO the greatest advantage of single-stranded floss is the spool can be mounted in a bobbin and handled without danger of fraying from contact with rough skin.

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There is one problem with using 4 strand floss that you don't get with single strand. It is especially a problem with classic salmon flies and other "display" flies. You can't use the spool on a bobbin holder. Yes you could wind the separated length on to an empty spool but that means handling the floss. Not handling the floss is the reason you would want to use it on a bobbin holder. Paul Little once explained to me that he puts his floss into a bobbin holder and cuts off the length he handled in doing so before forming the body, to avoid getting the oils from his fingers on the floss. When he uses the fine Japanese silk flosses that come in pre cut lengths he wears gloves for the same reason.

 

The reason why some flosses come in multi strands is that its not made for fly tying. The market for these materials just isn't big enough to justify the development of specialist materials. They are made for other purposes and re spooled for our use. Someone has just come across the multi strand material and thought "This will make good floss for fly bodies". For the most part it does.

 

If you want to form a flat body from floss you will not do so if you use multiple strands together. Forming good floss bodies is difficult with single strand floss If you are also fighting the tendency for multiple strands trying to twist together when you wind them it becomes almost impossible.

 

Cheers,

C.

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Some single-strand floss is fine enough that you can use it as the primary tying thread as well as the body. It might be a bit too big for small trout patterns, but it works well for Steelhead flies.

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I use single strand floss as a ribbing on a lot of patterns by tying it in, then grabbing it with a hackle plier and spinning it into a tight thread. This gives a ribbing like you would have with a heavy thread by has the added gloss of floss. Does it make any difference over just any old thread? Don't know but I do know I use silk thread in a lot of applications because old timers say it did make a difference.

 

As for the 4 strand floss, it's generally a PITA for most applications unless you're looking for a thicker body. As for gloves, I've heard the Chinese and other sweat shop fly factories have white silk gloves for the gals who do the floss flies, and it's not fear of body discoloring but because floss on rough hands like many of ours is continuously snagging and this eliminates that.

 

Who has a site for buying single strand floss in the large size bobbin spools? The only single strand I've found is in small spools in a plastic box.

 

Whooops, never mind. Found plenty of it on the auction site. Will also get some more silk floss for some of the classic ties.

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I use:

 

1 strand for midges, wet flies, soft hackles etc

 

2 strands for hair and feather wolf streamers

 

Unruly floss, you can wet it for easier wrapping

 

Museum flies, get some silk gloves

 

Fishing flies, get a pumice stone and smooth out those rough fingers

 

If all of that fails, substitute the floss with antron yarn, spanflex, flexifloss etc

 

Light colored thread under body for light colored floss

 

Dark colored thread for dark colored floss

 

http://www.classicflytying.com/?showtopic=4987

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Mike Hogue at Badger Creek (eflytier.com) has almost all the Danville colors on single strand spools. It's Rayon, not silk, but works well in most applications.

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Recommend checking out Don Bastian's website and DVDs. He's a terrific tier and his DVDs have excellent explanations and demonstrations on how to handle floss and a whole lot more. donbastianwetflies.com/

 

Thanks, Bob H

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Hi Group,

 

We like to use single-strand floss to tie Humpies size 14 or larger. On the smaller Humpies we tie them using 70 denier thread. Take care & ...

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Mostly I can only find single strand, (1 ply?) Floss and usually it seems to be rayon. I'd like to find 2 strand or 4 strand but can't find who makes or supplies it. It's OK for most flies including tube flies (Atlantic Salmon). However tying Classic Salmon flies on single irons you can't beat pure silk...it glows, not just shines like rayon, nylon etc. I use silk gloves to handle the silk and always wind a double layer. For really smooooth silk floss bodies use a flat thread like Danville's (I use 3/0), it's spun but oh so easy to unwind and lays really flat. Then burnish with a highly polished burnishing tool. Semi precious stone tools, like highly polished quartz give a much better finish than metal tools. Incidentally DO NOT allow the silk floss to get wet (easy to do if you lick your fingers to smooth back a hackle or wing), it stains. Only way to not see the stain is to dunk the finished fly in pure water - not tap water. Fish don't mind but it won't display good.

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