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Epoxy for the novice user

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#1 Big Daddy Hubbard

Big Daddy Hubbard

    President of the North Alabama Steelhead Assoc., Hogswaller, KY

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 02:01 PM

Epoxy is wonderful stuff. It is cheap and a great all purpose adhesive. It can be purchased at any hardware, hobby, craft, or discount department store. It comes in various forms, quantities, and compostitons. Epoxy has hundreds of applications ranging from an industrial concrete floor patch to glueing your rearview mirror back to your windshield. It seems only fitting that such an amazing product has become a favorite among fly tiers around the world.

At the bench, epoxy is used to create realistic baitfish imitations; constructing nearly indestructible bodies; adding weight and bulk to a fly; or making great looking heads.

First, let's talk a little about types of epoxies. Most epoxies are essentially the same except for drying times. This is most often how epoxy is marketed by manufacturers. For example, Bondex, Inc. sells various epoxies for household use under names like "30 sec epoxy", "One Minute Epoxy", and "Five Minute Epoxy". For tying applications, most tiers prfer the "Five Minute Epoxy" and that's what we will be referring to henceforth. The former styles simply set too quickly for skilled applications when trying to create a certain style head or body.

Now, let's talk about application. First, follow the mixing instructions included for your particular product. It is important that you do not mix the epoxy until you are ready to use it, as it will begin to set up alomost immediately.

To make tougher bodies, ready your fly and then mix your epoxy. Use a disposable water color brush and simply brush a thin coat over the body of your fly. I use this "brushing" method to harden swiss straw carapices on my craw imitations. It also works well to stiffen wing cases on large nymph imitations.

To make nice heads, apply the epoxy to the readied fly. I like to apply epoxy to Thunderhead style streamers. I employ the brushing method for this as well. I simply finish the fly and simply coat the head with epoxy , but only the head. Makes a real nice head.

To make nice clear heads for saltwater flies or baitfish imitations, I first construct a lattice framework to work with. I do this by tying in lead or dumbell style eyes. I use clear nylon thread (walmart ) and a series of figure 8 wraps to secure the eyes. Next, drop back behind the eyes and start a few wraps around the hook shank. Now, bring the thread forward and make one wrap around the far side eye. Next, bring the thread forward and make a couple of wraps at the hook eye. Next, bring the thread back to the eye closest to you, make one wrap, and then back to the tie in point on the shank. What you should have is a simple diamond shaped framework.

Now, I dab the epoxy onto the framework slowly using a Q-tip-that's right-a Q-tip. I have found this the best method for myself, but you may elect to try any other method. I work slowly, but steadily to achieve the desired head I want. Let the head dry, and then dress the fly as you like.

Epoxies also offer great versatility when making heads. You can add a little enamel paint or colored fingernail polish to add color, or sprinkle in a little glitter when you are mixing it to add a scaly flash effect.

Working with epoxy the first time can be a headache. The fumes are odorous and may be harmful if used without proper ventilation. Epoxy also tends to sag. A drying motor is very nice to have, but not a neccessity. Simply observe your fly as it dries and turn to accomodate any sagging. After a few moments, it should be set up enough to mold or shape with your fingers, however, this stuff has a tendency to stick to flesh so use CAUTION!!! And if you get sloppy with it, I can testify that it is impossible to get out of the carpet, hair , and eyebrows!!!

Don't be intimidated by epoxy patterns. It may just open a whole new tying experience for you!

For any questions about specific epoxy applications, I encourage you to direct your inquiries to Jim Hester. Jim is our resident pro and is more than glad to field any questions you may have.

Tight Lines!!!

Big Daddy