Tying Durable Flies
Paul Prentiss
In my opinion one of the best ways to improve the durability of your flies is to use one of the cyanoacrylate glues which are sold under various brand names like Super Glue, Krazy Glue, Zap-a-Gap, and so on. They are an extremely fast bonding single component adhesive that work best on smaller surfaces, using a very small amount of glue. They bond instantly with a colorless and transparent bond that is incredibly strong. However, they can also be dangerous to use. Stories about people bonding body parts together are true - use extreme caution. I'd keep some acetone or ordinary nail polish remover containing acetone along with some paper towels close at hand. I want a glue with a clear nozzle so I can control the flow and I apply a very small amount to a bodkin or sewing needle in a pin vise and then to the fly. IT IS NEVER APPLIED DIRECTLY unless you are gluing large surfaces. I started using these products in place of head cement in the early 1980's after a fellow fly tyer of dubious repute, Bob Bush, recommended that I give them a try. Since then, I have never had thread unwind from the head or from any tie down points on the body! Moreover, there is nothing better for securing eyes or weight to the hook shank.

I don't use it, but many tyers swear by the use of hot glue for securing materials or weight to a hook shank. I have just never gotten around to giving it a go.

Nail polish can be very useful on the tying bench, not only for producing high quality glossy heads but as an adhesive for body materials. If you have trouble with coarse dubbing a layer of this material will lock in the shaggy fir. Look for one of the high or semi-gloss products from Sally Hansen.

Whenever I tie in peacock herl, I always reinforce it with thread, wire, crystal flash or a comparable material wound in a counter-clockwise direction. If done properly it will keep the herl in place and securely bound to the hook shank.

After winding a tinsel or wire body on a fly, try overwrapping it with monofilament, v-rib, tubing, swannundaze or a similar material. The under material will not only be protected but in many cases will be enhanced.

Industrial strength dubbed bodies are best produced with a dubbing loop. You can combine the loop with a traditionally applied dubbing creating tightly woven chenille.

A very simple procedure for tying in wire, monofilament, and other assorted items is to use the wrap back or trap wrap. The item in question is tied in with two wraps of thread with the waste end towards the hook eye. This end is then bent back towards the hook bend and tied down with several more wraps. Thus secured it's difficult for the item to pull free. Try using this same method for wet fly hackles tied in at the tip.

Use whip finishes both at the head and at other points on the pattern where you may be securing materials. Learn how to complete this process with your fingers because many tools cannot be used effectively in some spots.

These simple procedures will significantly improve the life of your flies.