Plastic shellback material?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Kent Lufkin, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
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    I'm looking for some type of dark-colored plastic sheeting to use as shellback material for patterns like GRHEs, scuds, water boatmen, etc.

    I've tried the stretchy plastic strip stuff sold at flyshops as 'scudback', Swiss straw, plastic from zip-lock bags and Visqueen but have found all to be too fragile. I've used some new stuff called Thin Skin and like it but can't find it in the solid colors (black, dark brown, olive) I want.

    Ideally, what I want would be the weight and thickness of electrical tape but without the adhesive and in colors. Any ideas?


    "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." ~ Yogi Berra
  2. flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

    Have you tried any of the Larva Lace stuff? ( They have a material called 'bug skin' (lots of different colors) that looks pretty good. They may have other stuff, but I haven't looked through there site too much. I know some of the local shops sell some of there stuff.

    I haven't tied with it, but I have bought some nice flies through them on Ebay before. Otherwise I'm sure some of the experts around here will have something else in mind...

  3. ceviche Active Member

    Posts: 2,312
    Shoreline, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I was once poking around the engine room of a ship I was working on and picked up what I thought was some electrical take. To my surprise, it didn't have any adhesive. I still don't know what that stuff was supposed to be used for, but I can attest that the stuff exists. There may still be hope for you. Oh, you can always strip off electrical tape adhesive with rubbing alcohol. And electrical tape also comes in several different colors too. I suggest starting your search at an industrial supply store. Good luck!
  4. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,690
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +248 / 1
    There are a number of places that you might look.
    PNTA, Pacific Northwest Theatre Associates sells lighting gell. This is a transluscent sheet typicaly used to cover theatrical lights. As you can imagine it comes in a broad range of colors. It does not stretch but is fairly substantial.

    Also try Display and Costume for other alternatives. This place is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
  5. rockfish Member

    Posts: 730
    Manchester, Wa
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    at craft stores the plastic wrapping paper works killer, its just like flashabou ,in all the colors also and its like 59 cents a yard

    saltwater flyfishing in the northwest is a science as well as an art
  6. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
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    Thanks for the ideas (was:RE: Plastic shellback material?)

    Great ideas all. I'm off for Rocky Ford Thursday but will scout out some of your ideas for some experimenting when I get back.

    Thanks again to all.

    "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." ~ Yogi Berra
  7. Nooksack Mac Active Member

    Posts: 1,952
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
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    Thanks for the ideas (was:RE: Plastic shellback material?)

    Years ago, I snagged some plastic ribbon in a great salmon pink/orange color, blowing across the pavement, that has made fine shellback for prawn patterns, until it ran out. But I recently scored some more out of my sister's sewing/secorating supplies. While you're Christmas shopping, I'd check with every stores giftwrapping dept. See what they're using for ribbons.
  8. Jerry Daschofsky Moderator

    Posts: 7,757
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +680 / 5
    Thanks for the ideas (was:RE: Plastic shellback material?)

    Some really awesome stuff for this use is made by Hareline Dubbin (or distributed by them). I didn't see it mentioned, so if it has, I apologize. But it's called edgebrite. Great stuff. Nice and strong, and you custom cut it for your needs. Comes in a small sheet. I use it for my shrimp patterns.
  9. Wakemaster New Member

    Posts: 56
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    If durability is the issue consider the use of latex dental dams. Biggest drawback is that I've only seen them in tan, green, gray and black. Consider local dental supply businesses (or your local dentist). Every now and again one can find this material in fly shops, too, but still color limited and it doesn't have the reflective properties of some of the other materials.

    Happy hunting.
  10. ray helaers New Member

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    Surveyors tape comes in all sorts of colors (usually bright, don't know about black). It doesn't have the sheen of electricians tape, but is every bit as durable. Check out the hardware store.
  11. alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Posts: 3,897
    Hiding in your closet
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    I've had problems with the durability of dental dams. My mom worked for a dentist when I was growing up, so I had her supply me with a lot of them. The problem was after a year or so, the latex would harden, crack, and fall off my flies. It was quite frustrating, so I quite using them.
  12. Chris Bentsen Member

    Posts: 101
    Sammamish, wa, USA.
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    The other material you can try is the mylar bag that computer hard drives come in. Ask your computer friends to save you the silver bag and cut it into thin strips with a razor and straight edge. It is semi transparent and silver at the same time.:)
  13. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
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    I was at Creekside this morning to pick up a longer shaft I'd ordered for my Renzetti vice and noticed they now stock Thin Skin in a wider assortment of colors including brown and black. It comes as a sheet mounted on a non-stick paper backing about 2" by 7" and you just cut the size and shape you want. The black and brown aren't opaque but sort of semi-translucent so some of the underlying color shows through.

    Thanks to all for your ideas and help. Some of you had some quite creative suggestions.

    "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." ~ Yogi Berra
  14. rockfish Member

    Posts: 730
    Manchester, Wa
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    steelheader69, just seen some of that edge bright, it is some really neat looking stuff, cant wait to give it a go

    catch and release wild sculpins
  15. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Thin Skin is great material. I use it in all colors. Scud Back is also good material. It is available in clear, pink, red, orange and olive. I like it for saltwater krill patterns. BC tiers use strips of baggies for their shellback patterns. One popular BC cutthroat pattern is in fact called, the Baggy Shrimp. Edge Bright is good material for Lantern and Handlebar patterns and is used for some larger shrimp/prawn patterns but is not so good for smaller dressings as it is a bit thick.
    Good Fishing,
    Les Johnson
  16. Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

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    Olympic Peninsula
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    I have used latex glove material with good results. It comews in a range of colors. The natural or beige color has worked best for me. I also use bugskin and edgebright, and all kinds of crap I find around. The idea about theatrical lighting gel sounds good. Im going to try it out, and the computerdrive stuff, the mylar- awesome.
  17. Rob Blomquist Formerly Tight Loops

    Posts: 1,343
    Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA.
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    In some hobby and craft shops one can get transparent/translucent paper twist in a pearl mylar.

    Its possible to get a couple yards for only a couple dollars. Just cut 6" off, untwist the twist, and pass the rest to another fly tier.

    It rocks for shell backs.

  18. luv2fly2 Active Member

    Posts: 1,578
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    i use stuff i find at craft stores. it is the flat clear rubber used in sweatpant cuffs and waist bands. it is about 30-40 cents a yard. it accepts permanent markers well. if you color only side it is lighter than if you do both sides. for example if one side is done in black the result is olive which is a great color for is very toughwith a good shelf life. this stuff is the best i have seen and the cheapest. mww
  19. Randy Diefert aka: Longears

    Posts: 575
    Coupeville, WA, USA.
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    Anti-static bags that computer stuff comes in. You can also color it with Perm marking pens to get the colors you need.
  20. Northlake27 Member

    Posts: 102
    Twisp wa, us.
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    How about that plumbers thread tape? It is white but you could color it with a permanent marker. I know it is pretty tough stuff.