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Waxing your way to success.

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26 replies to this topic

Poll: Do you believe that wax is an important part of your fly tying?

Do you believe that wax is an important part of your fly tying?

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#16 DFix


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 11:04 AM

Application dependent and different types as well. 60/40 yes.

#17 mmarkey


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 11:18 AM

There are times when wax is a must. I usually have some regular dubbing wax on hand but for really tough jobs I have some paste-up graphic arts wax. Much stickier. Wax is very useful when weaving bodies, stops it from unraveling if you drop a thread.
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#18 ArkieFlyGuy


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 12:22 PM

I've not used wax on any of my flies, but it probably helps in certain applications.

I read in another thread or forum about making your own wax. I ran by Home Depot and bought a wax toilet ring for 85 cents that looks to have enough wax to do me the next 473 years!!!.... laugh.gif

I would think my use for wax would be when using a dubbing loop. I tend to do OK when I do a simple dubbing of the thread, but now I wonder if the wax would help make the fly last a little longer...... opinions?

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#19 luvinbluegills


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 01:06 PM

laugh.gif Love that toilet wax!
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#20 fly~by~night


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 02:13 PM

wonder if that would really work? hehe biggrin.gif

#21 DFix


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 03:39 PM

It works.

#22 fishyfranky


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Posted 31 January 2005 - 04:36 PM

I have this one hare's ear that I used a ton of wax on to dub and it made the body totally smooth. Worked good and its lasted a long time. Still have it in fact.

#23 Christopher K

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:49 PM

Only wax if tying in feathers by the stem or for coarse dubbings like hares or seal.

#24 starsky


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Posted 11 March 2014 - 01:50 PM

I use wax for all my flies,  but never for dubbing! Only on the odd time where I'm needing extra grip on a dubbing loop will I use a tacky wax. I use a hard cobblers wax otherwise. I truly believe the fly is a lot stronger with the wax applied.

#25 Crackaig


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Posted 11 March 2014 - 05:28 PM

This comes up time and again, and the answers always make me wonder. First, why was wax used originally? There were two reasons. At one time all flies were tied with silk thread. They would when tied be incorporated into a "cast" of at least 3 flies often more. Flies were not changed individually as they are today. Rather the entire cast would be changed. That's why there are no fly boxes pre 1880s, but lots of cast wallets and holders. these had to be kept damp so the gut or horse hair remained supple. Silk when wet rots. A quick rub through wax stops the silk from rotting. Today only a tiny fraction of flies are tied with silk thread, and most flies are tied on eyed hooks. Was also helps the silk grip the snelled gut or horse hair. Today we use mono and eyed hooks. So that use is not appropriate any longer.


Dubbing. This is where people seem to want to use wax. Lets start by saying there are two different effects desired from dubbing that require looking at separately. Please don't try using points from one to confuse the argument by applying it to the other. There is the dubbing noodle and touch dubbing. (Yes there are other techniques, such as dubbing loops and split thread, which really do not need wax at all).


In the dubbing noodle the dubbing does not stick to the thread. It sticks to itself around the thread. If you don't believe me I'll happily demonstrate dubbing seal's fur to copper wire without wax. Trying to use wax as an adhesive to stick material to the thread is no substitute for good technique. Forming a dubbing noodle is essentially felt making. Wax isn't used in felt making why would it be needed in dubbing? One old method of forming a dubbed body was to roll the dubbing into a noodle on your trouser leg, tie the end in and wind it like floss. Try it it really works.


With touch dubbing much less dubbing is used.The dubbing that is used is, usually, much softer than dubbing used in noodles. Many people use mole as touch dubbing in NC spider patterns (the original use of touch dubbing). If you look though, mole isn't the dubbing specified. Usually what is called for is water rat (vole). Which is similar in colour and texture, but about three or four times the staple length. Try touch dubbing with that and you don't need wax. The Hare's Lug 'n' Plover uses much coarser hare's ear in touch dubbing. BUT the recipe calls for a good proportion of hare's poll (top of the head between the ears) hair to be mixed in. There is the soft material that makes touch dubbing possible.


Where wax is needed is in the tying of classic salmon flies. It is impossible to make the small heads on classic salmon flies without something to stop the thread sliding about. There is also one fly that calls for was for a different reason altogether. The Greenwell's glory uses cobblers wax to change the colour of the primrose thread to an olive colour.


Wax is possibly the most miss understood and miss used of all fly tying products. Over 99% of the wax used in fly tying simply isn't needed.




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#26 Chase Creek

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 07:30 PM

I use wax occasionally for dubbing unruly material, but mostly for making dubbing "brushes" with silk or thread, on a dubbing block.  Waxing the thread, then applying the material and twisting to form the brush, then storing the brush on a card overnight lets the wax set, and prevents the twist from coming undone when taking the brush off the card.

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#27 Ty Flyer

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 07:03 PM

I'm Mostly between answers 3 and 4. I wax the first 6 inches of thread when I start My fly, and add extra wax when I add dubbing.

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