Do you use silk?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Dave Evans, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 532
    E. WA / N ID
    Ratings: +98 / 0
    I am very addicted to fly tying and try to sit down at my bench 4 or 5 times a week. My trout and lake boxes now have more than enough to get me through the year so I wanted to try some of the classic steelhead patterns. This may be a silly question, but whenever a pattern has called for silk I substitute uni floss. But watching Hans and others videos on the forums has me wanting to do it right. So how many of you actually use silk, or do you just use something like uni floss? What is the advantage of silk over floss?
  2. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,139
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +959 / 1
    I use silks for tying soft hackles. Reason for it is the silk darkens when wet. Rayon floss stays the same wet as when dry. But I caught fish on the rayon floss soft hackles too.
  3. Ron Eagle Elk Active Member

    Posts: 1,737
    Yelm, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +110 / 0
    I use silk thread (Pearsall's Gossamer) to tie almost all wet flies and soft hackles. Not only for the historical aspect, I also like the color shifts when using different waxes. Very interesting to play with.

    I also prefer silk floss to rayon or nylon because of the translucency of the silk and the color changes when wet.

    I do use man made fibers in both thread and floss, but prefer to use the silks.
  4. troutdopemagic Active Member

    Posts: 405
    Lake Stevens, Washington
    Ratings: +133 / 0
    For fishing flies, like those in my summer box, I use Rayon floss, because its cheaper and when I'm tying 10 or 20 it helps keep the cost down for things I'll lose on rocks in a couple weeks.
  5. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,684
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +243 / 1
    I use both silk thread and silk floss as a body material mostly because its beautiful. The color and sheen are a step beyond synthetics. I tie flies that I like and I just hope the fish like them too. So far we have been in agreement on numerous occasions. I do use synthetics also but nine times out of ten I prefer the naturals.

    Dave Evans likes this.
  6. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 532
    E. WA / N ID
    Ratings: +98 / 0
    Thanks Tim, that is a great reason and my flies need all of the help they can get, I think I only ask questions when I have mostly made up my mind but need just one bit of justification to pull the trigger!
  7. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 3,989
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,558 / 0
    I use silk but it will take me forever to go through that WWII parachute I bought at the Army surplus store...
  8. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    I often use silk especially when I tie up some of the classic patterns and want them to be just like the originals. I have lots of UNI Floss all colors and use that too.
  9. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,684
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +243 / 1
    When I need silk I just hop on the next flight to Assam and collect cocoons from the endemic wild moths. At home, at my tying station (otherwise known as the kitchen table), I just unwind it straight off the cocoon and onto the hook. ;)

  10. Dr Bob Member

    Posts: 188
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    Interesting timing. I have tyed my soft hackles with floss anf thread bodies for many years but just recently (in the last month) purchased some silk to try. i have not tried it yet but will be doing some soft hackles in a few weeks. I have heard it does have the color change when wet. I have had good success with my floss and thread body flies.

    Dr Bob
  11. overmywaders New Member

    Posts: 8
    Wilton, NH
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    An advantage of silk is the translucence when wet. If you paint the body area with white lacquer before winding the floss, the white will provide a subtle visual accent when the silk is wet. In the UV, the difference is even greater.
    Also, some killer patterns like the Pink Lady were tied with silk floss and I believe the pattern is more effective with the silk.

    Below are two gray palmer bivisibles, rayon body on left, silk body on right. The difference in the UV is more marked.