epoxy heads

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by jditto, Jun 30, 2003.

  1. no not meth heads! how do you make the cool heads on bucktail streamers or any other epoxy head fly. this week-end a very nice angler gave me some very well tied streamers and i want to attempt to tie some on my own. it looks like he finished the fly, applied small eyes then aplied epoxy on top of it all. my question is, how do you make the epoxy pretty and even? is there a special epoxy for this? any help would be very appreciated and maybe i can repay the favor to the next nice angler i meet! jer
  2. The only way to get the epoxy to dry evenly and pretty is to turn the fly while it's setting up. With 5-minute epoxy, you can do this by hand, one fly at a time, or in the vise if you have a rotary. The problem with 5-minute epoxy is that it will tend to yellow fairly quickly when exposed to sunlight, and it sets up too fast to allow any bubbles to work themselves out.

    The solution to these problems is to use 20-minute or 60-minute epoxy. Of course that will lead to a pretty tired wrist if you try to turn the flies by hand, not to mention a pretty inefficient prouduction schedule. You can buy or make a turning wheel, that will allow you to turn a number of flies at once, while you go on to something else. You need something that turns at about 3-9 rpm. A motor that runs too fast will cause the epoxy to dry unevenly. (The first time I tried making my own turning wheel, I used an old electric can opener. It turned so fast that my flies all came out with bubble-shaped lumps on the tops of their heads. I called the resulting pattern the Brainiac. Cool enough name, but the flies all swam on their sides.)

    If you want to make your own wheel, take a look at the commercially available models for design tips (most flyshops around here will carry at least one type). If you can find one, a rotiserie motor from an old barbeque turns at just the right speed. Rod turning motors will work, but tend to run just a hair too fast (12-16 rpm). I actually make my rod-turning motor work by using a series of small wheels placed along a dowel, rather than one large wheel, which seems to cut down the centrifical force.

    Getting epoxy heads to come out consistently perfect is a matter of practice and experience. One tip: try to be sparing with the goop. Build the head up with the underlying materials, and apply a reasonably thin coat of epoxy, rather than trying to make a big head out of the epoxy. I use 60-minute epoxy and after letting the flies turn for an hour, I don't touch the flies for at least 12 hours, till they're perfectly hard and clear.

    It's a fun tying technique, with rewarding results. good luck.
  3. I use the 5 minute epoxy you get at the hardware store in the double syringe. I make a pretty decent minnow imitation by use poly wing (green/blue on top with white on bottom) material and crystal flash with a little red thread at the throat for a gill slash. As a final step I mix a little epoxy on a postit note and smooth it on over the poly with a smooth bodkin or other smooth metal tool. The epoxy will self level out pretty smoothly, sometimes though I will apply a little goop hand cleaner to my hands (to keep them slick) and after the expoxy begins to set gently shape it. You might find it neccessary to rotate the fly a bit sometimes if your epoxy is slow setting up. Hope this helps, my minnows work great, I'm sure the same techniques will work for just about any type of head. Let us know how they turn out :beer1
  4. Oh as a clarification in light of Rays post, I'm sure the 5 minute epoxy does yellow in the sun but mine have been good so far and I tied them over 12 months ago. Of course I do keep them in a opaque box when not in use, and I tend to lose alot of flies, so these will probably be gone before they yellow :D Also mine are over the entire body not just the head so a little irregularity (from not having perfect shapes) just helps the action somewhat...
  5. If you want the verry best information on dealing with epoxy get Bob Popovics's book Pop Fleyes.Every trick there is ,and be sure to get some photo-flo I know you can use other products but this works best for me. I also use soft body and like it ,but you have to use sveral coats. Try coating the 5 min epoxy with Sally Hansen or Loon Hard Head will help from turning yellow.
  6. While we are talking epoxy. Any one out there instead of using epoxy use silicon instead. I have been thinking about trying some patterns that use Silicon instead of epoxy since I work in hardware and can get silicon for very good prices. If you are using silicon are you using a rotating drier like you do for epoxy? Are you taking epoxy patterns and using silicon instead. So far I only came across an artical in Fly Fishing and Tying that talked about silicon flies. The artical was geared for East Coast but I am currious if anyone out there uses here on the West Coast. I am also intreasted in silicon because of my not having much luck in repair work around the house getting the mix of epoxy right. Silicon I could just forget about mixing and just use from the tube what I need. Since I plan to start to tie up my own saltwater patterns soon I am looking at options and ideas.
  7. Bob Popovics is the man when it comes to working with silicon.DAP,GE Silicone are two of the ones he recomends in clear.I have done some of the Rubber Candys this last year and I like them for a little slower sink rate than the Surf Candys. The real trick to working with the silicone is the Photo-Flo to be able to smoth the silicone with out it stcking to your fingers.You don't need a turner with silicone.I beleive it to work best with med. to large flys best.Pop Fleyes get the book best thing I ever did for my salt water fly fishing.
  8. hmmmm, a rotiserie, would you use a marinade? just kidding! thnaks to you all for the great info. i am going to find a rotating thing and a tube of glue in the morning and i will let you know how it goes! thenks again jer:thumb
  9. The other problem that I have with 5-min epoxy is that it starts to gel pretty quick, and if you're doing a number of flies, it can be a little trcky to work with, for me anyway. I've got a good turning set-up, and I can do a dozen or so flies at once, so I like the luxury of taking my time with the 60-min.

    Silicon, sof-tex, flex-cement, will all work pretty well. I use sof-tex for my "field" flies, and when I want a more neutral bouancy. You don't have to turn it, and it tends to shrink up to a nicely shaped head as it dries. It won't give you quite the same jigging action that an epoxy head will, and the surface is obviously not as durable, so the heads will tend to dull after use.

    (I also use sof-tex for my poxy-back and flash-back nymphs, just because it dries faster and is a lot less hassle than epoxy, when all you basically need is one small drop per fly.)
  10. What is/Where can you get sof-tex?, sounds like something I'd like to try as well, especially for my SRC minnow flies as I think it's possible that a softer feel and more neutral bouyancy might give them a more life-like action. Thanks!:thumb
  11. OK, being up to the challenge I tied my first epoxy minnow...see attached jpg..

    It's ready for critique...:hmmm My main concern with this design is the forward position of the hook. which invites short strikes...Maybe just a longer shank and a shorter tail...

    a stinger hook might also work...


    Calmness is power....
  12. Softex is a "clear,flexible body forming material"

    PH. 510-881-8210 ICON PRODUCTS

    This stuff really needs to be used in a ventilated area it contains toluene, and because of the wide mouth jar it comes in ,the vapors will get to you.Softex does not dry as clear as epoxy or some of the other products that dryharder.For a quick drying product it is one of the best.
    One thing you can do with it that is cool is make what they call a Airhead popper.You take EZ body tubing and grizzly hackles and coat them with Softex and you have a transparent popper.
    I order Softex from Feather Craft some fly shops for what ever reason do not like to handle it over my way.
  13. Wow! Looks great mine are pretty much the same but I use a long shank hook, tie the poly wing material facing forward from the front of the hook. I then pull it back and wrap over it at the hook bend with a few wraps of green thread. This then flares it at the rear giving it sort of a fin at the back. I do the eyes and red throat slash just like you do. I got these techniques fronm an article in some magazine(sorry can't be more specific). If I can find the article, I'll be sure and post proper credits and a better description. I'll see if I can get a pic of mine and post it as well. Looks like your version is simpler to tie and may have a better action in the water:D I'll have to give it a try!
  14. What type of eyes are those I love the life like color they have.
  15. Thanks! I found it at the Orvis in Bellevue, I can't wait to give it a try!:thumb
  16. The eyes are just press on eyes I got @ Swede's fly shop in woodinville... Chartruese ...they do look pretty lifelike when shining thru the epoxy....very easy to apply

    Something tells me that eyes are essential to a good baitfish pattern....

  17. Sorry I didn't get back to you. Glad you found it. It's true about the fumes. Once I was tying flies on the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo and the purser came up and made me stop. He said the other passengers enjoyed watching, but had been "complaining of the odor."

  18. Besides Popfleyes, Check out a book called Innovative Saltwater Flies - there is an all softex/silicone fly by Cam Seilger Jr. of Vashon - he coats the entire fly with it. Have not tried it but it looks interesting for sure - not for the purist at heart.

    book is also great for a variety of sand lance type imitations that you can adapt to suit.

    Jim W

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