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Bullet proof flies


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15 replies to this topic

#1 DarrellP

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 08:28 AM

I have read about guide flies, and tend to tie those because they are quick, cheap and durable. However, I prefer natural, and preferably narurally colored materials. Other than making a hitch at each step and employing glue throughout, are there other tricks to making flies more "bulletproof"?
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#2 flytire

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 09:09 AM

a half hitch here and a drop of glue there might make flies a little bit more durable temporarily but i dont think theres much in the way to make "bulletproof" flies.

 

eventually materials will breakdown, hackle stems will break or flies get chewed up by fish teeth. shitty casting into trees, rocks etc. doesnt help

 

reverse wrapping with wire is only good if fish teeth dont break it

 

uv resins will fail. it can crack without even fishing the fly. trust me i have photos


We do it all the time! Get over it!


#3 RickZieger

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 09:11 AM

The closet I have come is dubbing brushes used to make hares ears.

Also dudbbing brushes to makes abdomens on some flies.

 

Rick



#4 tidewaterfly

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 10:03 AM

Flies are expendable. I agree with Norm, none will be bullet proof, but good tying practices can extend the life of a fly, provided you don't lose them to snags or fish. 

 

I've heard some folks say they only use synthetic materials, because they're more durable, but even then they still only have a fairly short useful life. IMO, this mindset also misses out on the properties of natural materials that cause the flies tied with them to be so productive. 

 

It all comes down to choices, and compromises anyway.  Use good tying techniques, don't try to be cheap and cut corners and the flies will be as durable as you can make them regardless of the materials used. 

 

You're still going to lose flies & those not lost will still get chewed up & eventually need replacing. Isn't that why you tie? rolleyes.gif



#5 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 10:43 AM

I tie a bunch of flies for the salt (then re-tie, and re-tie - as long as the hook is still usable - and there's enough of the fly left to make re-doing it worthwhile...).  There are a few tricks to make them more durable... The very first one is to quit using head cement (and most glues - unless they really work...).  Somewhere near the starting point on my flies I add a tiny bit of superglue to the thread - to lock in the "base" before going very far in the tying process... Counter-intuitive - but that's usually after the thread is started, any beadchain or lead eyes are in place - usually at or near the bend of the hook for flies with tails... At some point just before finishing the thread winding process (and just before the head itself is finished....) I'll hit the thread again with just a trace of that same superglue (I prefer the commonly available Krazy Glue brand).  This kind of thin superglue is absorbed into any materials it touches so you have to be very careful not to use more than is needed.  The idea is that the entire materials tied onto the hook are locked in place by the glue at critical points...   Lastly I use that same Krazy Glue as a thin finish in lieu of head cement on any head or finishing wraps.... Once it dries out completely - then and only then... will I consider using something like Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails as a head cement to pretty up the head.  For flies with painted on eyes - my final finish is FlexCoat - a rodbuilder's finish - but this is much more for appearance than any durability...  By the way - any thread treated with superglue will withstand bites from toothy critters and still remain intact, mostly...

 

The actual materials used on our flies - those, with a few exceptions, do get abraded, worn, shredded, or actually destroyed by many saltwater fishes - so in some ways  you might actually need a new fly - after only one fish...  I keep a close eye on the flies my anglers use -on more than one occasion over the years a quick inspection of a fly that hit a snag or got bit by something with real jaw strength revealed - a perfect fly - except for the fact that the hook actually broke off after an impact and we were effectively only using a teaser that couldn't hook anything... That sort of stuff will have you watching your flies very closely... 

 

There is one natural material, by the way that is very durable and can really survive bites from spanish mackerel and other toothy critters... It's polar bear hair... Why that is so I have no idea, when ordinary bucktail gets neatly cut off by a mackerel and yet polar bear hair survives just fine...

 

There is one other thing that salty types can do to increase the longevity of their flies and that's to carefully collect any that have been salted and at the end of the day rinse them thoroughly in fresh water then allow them to dry thoroughly before either re-tying them (if needed) or placing them back into service...

 

RDIgUoE.jpg

Krazy Glue - just completed a bunch of SpeedBugs by touching the final whip finished thread ends on each collar -right at the popper's head... No other finish used... 

 

8yLxKj0.jpg

Krazy Glue used as a paint brush on a finished thread head - remember not to allow it to touch any feather or hair.... 

 

hgedpui.jpg

this Whitewater Clouser in size 2/0 is a guide's pattern - every bit of exposed thread has been superglued - making it very durable until the hair is broken or chewed off.  I re-tie these over and over again - as long as the large beadchain eyes are still intact and the hook is still worth using...

 

Hope this helps


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#6 mikechell

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 12:21 PM

My "go-to" fly.  
 
DSCF0004.JPG
 
 
I've tied one on, and fished it through several days of fishing without changing.  I've retied the tippet knot, but left the same fly on.  Usually, the only reason I change the fly is when I hook a snag and have to break it off and leave it somewhere.
My secret to its longevity?  Superglue.  Like Mr. Lemay above, I superglue the thread base ... tie the fly ... then superglue the final head wraps.

Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
Ex-Marine ... quondam fidelis
 


#7 Lesg

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 04:29 PM

I find with toothy fish like trout my flies begin to fall apart after a few fish but I don't think that's a bad thing. 



#8 mikemac1

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:30 AM

Apart form the good advice above on the construction of the fly, the use of barbless hooks can also contribute to fly longevity. Antedotally barbless hooks are much easier to remove from a hooked fish. Much less force or wiggle is needed to dislodge a barbless hook than a barbed one. Most of us just grab the fly in the fishes month with our fingers and wiggle it free. In doing so we put pressure on the collective of wet materials that compose the fly. The more wiggle and pressure needed can damage the fly. Forceps can do the same. Quality barbless hooks like the Firehole Stick line are incredibly easy to remove from a hooked fish. I used them almost exclusively for my trout patterns and have started using the larger streamer models for inshore saltwater patterns. I’ve caught 25+ trout in a mornings fishing using the same streamer without it falling apart. It is just another tactic that can prolong the life of a fly, especially it is catching a lot of fish.

#9 SBPatt

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 07:08 AM

At least for trout flies, use proper thread tension and the flies should stay intact. That means breaking the thread every once in a while (unless you’re using stuff like GSP or Kevlar) as you find what the thread’s limit is. Flies are still gonna get chewed and there’s not much you can do about that except tie some more.

Regards,
Scott
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#10 DarrellP

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:11 AM

Thanks, everyone. How does epoxy compare to u v resins?
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#11 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:26 AM

Forgot to mention that just about every fly I hand my anglers has the barb mashed down first... I believe that you actually hook a fish more easily using barbless gear - but much more importantly the hook is easier to remove when an angler hooks himself (or herself) or the captain...

Yes, I do have the occasional angler that does better hooking people than fish... Ive been to an ER twice over the years to have hooks removed (the last one was a 7/0...) and Im not planning on doing that again...
Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#12 TheCream

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 03:06 PM

Minimizing exposed thread goes a long ways towards making flies more durable.  And that exposed thread (hopefully just at the hook eye) can be coated with cement to help.  Nothing can make a fly 100% bulletproof but things can be done to reinforce otherwise delicate flies.  A good hack for the pheasant tail nymph (or any other nymph using pheasant for the abdomen) is to apply a little CA glue to the hook before wrapping, then counter wrap with wire.  It makes them substantially more durable. 



#13 Flicted

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 07:58 AM

You could glue everything of course but if want to stay as natural as possible, it has already been said to limit exposed thread.  A little dubbing (even fine dubbing like mole) can protect the thread quite a bit.  At the head, instead of a 5 or 6 turn whip finish, do a couple three turn whip finishes.  Of course if you glue your heads you can get by with less. 



#14 Stippled Popper

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 07:08 PM

Thanks, everyone. How does epoxy compare to u v resins?

 It depends on the epoxy.  For durability stay away from 5 minute epoxy.  It soon yellows and cracks.  Generally the longer the cure time the better the durability and the longer time you have before the epoxy sets up enough to no longer be used to spread over your fly.  Longer cure takes longer to yellow especially if it has UV inhibitors built in such as the Flex Coat Lure Gel Coat and longer before it will just crack sitting in your fly box.  The epoxy down side is that you need some method to rotate the fly until it sets up.  With the Flex Coat I mentioned this can take up to three hours and 12 hours before I've wanted to touch them.  The better epoxies seem to perform slightly better than UV resins at least in reviews I've seen.  Someone please correct me if this is no longer true.

 

I wouldn't use epoxy just to cover thread wraps on wet and like flies.



#15 mikechell

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:23 PM

I have to play devil's advocate, at this point in the discussion.

1)  Yellowing of epoxy ... how long is "soon"?  If you're tying display flies that need to withstand years or decades of time on a shelf, then maybe yellowing would be problematic.  If you're tying fishing flies, and they're in your box long enough to yellow, then you're tying too many flies. (In my opinion)

2)  Durability ... how durable does a fly need to be?  Even my hard plastic lures used with conventional gear don't last forever.  In many cases, I'll lose a fly to fish or snags long before it falls apart.  My "go-to" fly is the only one I tie that will last through several trips.

3)  Apologies.  I'm not asking the above questions to cause arguments.  I'm only asking because MY tying is for fishing.  I only carry 6 of any one pattern.   I only tie 4 or 5 patterns,  which cover most of my needs.


Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
Ex-Marine ... quondam fidelis