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Head Cement Preferences

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Poll: Head Cement Preferences (479 member(s) have cast votes)

What head cement do you use?

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#1 DrLogik


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 10:39 AM

It looks like my first attempt at a poll didn't work out to well. The poll questions didn't load. Oh well...

I've been doing some casual research on how the various master fly tyers approached head cement and the methods they employed to apply it to the fly (ie needle, syringe, brush, etc) I'd like to get your spin on what you prefer as far as the type/brand you use and why and the method you use to apply it to the fly.

Do you use different cements for different flies? Why?

If you make up your own head cement, what formula do you use?

I made this same post in Clark's Bamboo Rod Forum's Classic Fly Tying Section and got some very interesting results.



#2 Hot Tuna

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:18 AM

I'm pretty sure the Catskill boys(Art Flick and such) were fond of Ambroid...I gravitated for a while to Sally Hansens hard as Nails...now on my freshwater dryflies I usually just whip finish it off..no cement. Too many times during the throes of a hatch I forgot to clear the head cement out of the eye... help.gif
Saltwater flies are a different matter...there was a recent post in here on how to make Flexament from Shoe Goo and I'm looking forward to experimenting with different thicknesses on Clousers and other saltwater flies. I've got a nice little dubbing needle one of my bamboo rod making friends gave me(piece of bamboo rod tip with needle) but I keep my Sally's in one of those jars that has the pull out needle for the times that I use the cement.

#3 TroutBum


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:59 AM

For classic Salmon and Wet flies I use a three products. After whip finishing I apply Griff's thin head cement to penetrate & seal the wraps. Then two coats of Griff's thick cement to fill in any bumps and depressions and finally a black lacquer to finish it off.

For saltwater streamers I use Sally Hansen's hard as nails and for freshwater nymphs and dries I'll use anything that will hold the wraps together.
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#4 picketpin


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 12:15 PM

I have been using Pro Lak head cement for 20yrs+ great stuff comes in clear,black,red also us sally for some flies and buzzer bodies both are great
Tight Lines Mike
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#5 letumgo


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 12:35 PM

I use a range of different materials to coat the heads of flies. I use thinned fly head cement to penetrate and seal the head wrappings. The thinned head cement wicks into the head and displaces the air trapped in the wrappings and helps prevent visible bubbles in the finished head.

I use regular and thickened "Head Cement" and Dave's Flex Cement for the outer layers of coating to get a smoother finish.

Recently I have started using black Pro Lak to coat the heads of my wet flies and streamers. This stuff is wonderful for getting a glossy jet black head on a fly.

If I am looking for a high gloss finish, I will give the head on outer layer of clear Sally Hansen "Hard As Nails" nail polish.

For really durable heads on fishing flies, I mix up a batch of DevCon 5 minute epoxy and coat the thread wraps. The fly needs to be rotated until the head sets up, but it makes a very durable fly.

P.S. - You've got a neat research project. I checked out your website and found the information very useful and well documented. Thanks for sharing.

Ray (letumgo) <)((((><<

#6 letumgo


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 12:54 PM

I just read your experiment with different types of floatants, with great interest. No I need to run out and get my hands on some paraffin and some white gas to make up some Ray Bergman floatant. Very cool!

Ray (letumgo) <)((((><<

#7 steelie



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Posted 25 February 2007 - 01:01 PM

Good Day,

Are you refering to fishing or display flies? For me it makes a difference. I do not use head cement on any of my fishing flies. Agood whip finish will do the job and I have yet to have a fly fall apart. If I use any on a display fly, I tend to use Sally Hansens hard as nails...

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#8 Chase Creek

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 03:12 PM

I use good old Sally's. I apply it with a round toothpick. Tried cutting the brush that comes with the bottle down to a few strands, but find I have better control with a toothpick. Also use toothpicks to apply epoxy for wingcases and such. I keep them in a shot glass on the bench.
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#9 Joe Hard

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 03:45 PM

I use the stuff from Walmart, dont know for sure but they cary Crystal River poducts here, clear and black gloss. Zap-A-Gap or Loctite. Sally Hansens and other nail polishes.
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#10 J. R. Caddick

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 09:05 PM

I use Pro-Lak and have for most of my tying career. It will dry to a nice gloss finish and comes in Clear, Black, White, Red, Green and Yellow. The only other thing i will put on the heads of my flies is Veniards No. 1 Fine Cellire.

The Pro-Lak out sells all other head cements that i carry in the shop by about a 10 - 1 margin.

#11 flyfishing4life



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Posted 25 February 2007 - 09:14 PM

CLear fingermail polish and orvis brand are the two i use

#12 Ephemerella


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Posted 25 February 2007 - 09:43 PM

For nymphs, dries, and others, I use "Hunter's Best" (used to be from Hunters in New Boston NH) in one of those squeezy bottles with the metal tube. I keep it relatively thin, using laquer thinner. In fact mostly I find I'm adding thinner, no doubt lost through evaporation. Applied right from the end of the tube.

For CS streamers, I've tried lots of things and it looks like 1 coat of the above head cement, then after it really dries (a couple of hours), 3 coats of Sally Hansen Hard-as-Nails, about 45 min to an hour apart, then let the fly sit for 24 hours, or I find it is soft underneath. I use a tiny bodkin made from a medium weight needle stuck in a tiny (3/8" x 1/8" x 2") piece of wood.

Other stuff I use: Dave's Fleximent for adhering CS wings together, and for adhering turkey for hopper wings and nymph wing casings. Use a heavy bodkin. ZapaGap for various construction and coating quill body flies, using a wooden pointy toothpick.

Also, don't buy little jars of head cement thinner- a quart of laquer thinner is about $6 and will last a lifetime. Be careful when transferring it to little jars, as its vapor is explosive, and will seek out a flame many feet away (e.g. furnace, woodstove).

#13 nomad


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Posted 26 February 2007 - 08:50 AM

I use Fly-Rite for everything I tie.
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#14 IPwnJoo


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Posted 26 February 2007 - 09:01 AM

Hard as hull and 30min epoxy.

#15 JJD


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Posted 26 February 2007 - 01:13 PM

Since most of my flies may do dual duty in the salt, I hit the heads with Superglue. It penetrates and leaves a nice shiny head that will stand up to almost anything. After the flies get shredded by fish, the heads still look good!

I don't even use head cement or Sally Hansen's any more unless I'm doing something for display that requires a superlative smooth finish. Hard as Hull is very nice too.