To wax or not to wax

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Jack Devlin, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,009 / 1
    I wonder how many tiers use wax on their tying thread? I do. It is the "traditional" way I was taught some 45 years ago.
    Most times I also use a waxed thread. There always was the argument that head varnish doesn't penetrate waxed thread but I have taken heads apart and found quite the opposite given that the varnish is thinned enough. I also use a tacky wax for dubbing although it is not always necessary with some of the commercial dubbing available today. I have gone back to making my own waxes again given that Overton's is no longer available and my supply is gone. Look forward to your comments and thoughts on this sometimes sticky subject.
  2. Steve Kokita FISHON206

    Posts: 598
    Burien, Washington
    Ratings: +147 / 0
    Sounds like we started tying about the same time. This May it will be 46 years tying for me! I still use the same piece of wax my dad started me with. I just wax the first couple of inches after I start the thread on the hook, it's supposed to grab the hook better without spinning. I also use a sticky wax from Wapsi for dubbing, looks like the old "Crew Stick" for flat top hair cuts from the 60's. Guess we're just kinda old school.....or just old.
  3. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,035 / 1
    After beeswax, one of the first waxes I used was SWIX, a ski wax.
  4. TD Active Member

    Posts: 762
    North End
    Ratings: +126 / 0
    I still have a piece of beeswax that was given to me by my father when I was kid. I wax enough thread that the shank gets wax as does the tail wraps and body up to the the hackle area. By the time I get to the head the wax portion is usually used up. Never noticed any problem with varnish on the heads. I also use Overton's Dubbing Wax for touch dubbing, Ice Dub, and other dubbing that doesn't grab the thread as much as I'd like.
  5. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,009 / 1
    The reason I brought up the subject of waxing is that I don't see it being done very often on all the various you-tube stuff and instructional videos. Davie McPhail being one exception. I was taught to keep a small patch of wax on my bobbin hand index finger similar to the way Davie uses wax. I was taught by a Scotchman.
    I too have tried SWIX wax from cross country skiing. Worked fine especially the klister or real sticky stuff for dubbing. Like a magnet. Overton's was probably the best wax. Too bad no one ever duplicated it. I like Veniards too which is still available. Have taken to making my own from rosin and beeswax. Fun to experiment and get just the right consistency. Good old plain beeswax good too. And it smells nice!
  6. Baitfish Member

    Posts: 95
    Gig Harbor
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I used waxed thread and apply wax frequently to 90-percent of the flies I tied. If I am tying speyflies adorned with bronze mallard wings, i.e., I used unwaxed thread.
  7. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,775
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +229 / 1
    I have long thought the Overton's "magic, secret ingredient" is "rectified pine resins". Guess we'll never know now.
    Thankfully, I still have 4 tubes left.:)
  8. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    Hmmm, I might need to get some good dubbing wax. I have some bars of Sex Wax (surfboard wax) lying around. I'd try that, but it smells like coconut and bananas, and would probably curse my flies.
  9. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,775
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +229 / 1
    If you're wanting to save a few pennies, a $2 toilet bowl wax ring works fair enough!
  10. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,557
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,517 / 9
    I like wax, really allows me to mess with the arrangement of materials being spun onto thread or inside a dubbing loop. I'm not an old school tyer, only been at tying a few years.
  11. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,035 / 1
    Wax makes it easy to get seal fur to stick to the inside of a dubbing loop. I'm doing angora goat right now with no wax and it has a mind of its own.
  12. Marc Stelting Member

    Posts: 61
    NW Wash.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Wow-- sex wax? conjured up some bad images:) Interesting to see what everyone has used based mosly on their age, and years of tying. I too tried SWIX and still have a tube of Overtons left, which I use with regularity. I was tught to use wax and waxed thread, although I find myself interested in non-waxed and dubbing loops, just hard to break the old traditions.
  13. Dr Bob Member

    Posts: 188
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    I use dubbing wax with certian dubbings I have trouble getting to stick to the thread.:thumb: I do not normally wax my tying thread. I don't seem to have a problem getting it to stick to the hook or anything like that. I tried it a few times but could not tell much difference.:hmmm:

    Dr Bob :beer1:
  14. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,009 / 1
    Mark. Rosin is an ingredient in a good wax like Overtons. By the way, seeing that we are such close and long time friends, I'd be glad to hold onto one of those tubes for ya and keep it safe. What say Ol Buddy?
  15. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,009 / 1
    Mark. The toilet bowl wax is just fine. I believe Global Flyfisher has a formula for making wax utilizing toilet bowl wax.
  16. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,009 / 1
    With the mention of "smell" by Jim Wallace when talking about the surfers wax, an entirely different subject/concern comes to mind. With all the things we use today in fly tying like epoxy, super glue, modern wax preparations (oil based), and certain man made materials, I wonder what the fish can smell? Fish do have a super acute sense of smell. I do think about it as I have begun to use super glue a lot in my fishing flies. It does make em last longer. I guess the smell disappears as it cures but I wonder??? I stopped using moth balls because of the smell which seemed to last a long time.
  17. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    Good tip. Probably enuff in one ring to split up between several tyers and get the cost down even more. I recently reset the toilet in my garage/shop. I think now that maybe I could have salvaged part of the old ring.... Naw, I'm frugal, but not that frugal!

  18. Ron Eagle Elk Active Member

    Posts: 1,742
    Yelm, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +110 / 0
    I usually only wax my thread when I'm using Pearsall's silk. I use a dark cobbler's wax to alter the color of the thread and adding the wax lets the thread grab the hook and materials better. I also use a wax similar to the wax used by Leisenring to both color the thread a bit and make it just a bit stuckier for dubbing.

    As for Overton's, the closest I've found is BT's Tacky and Super Tacky waxes. Great for touch dubbing.

    REE
  19. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +718 / 0
    I stopped using wax on my tying thread 20 or so years ago. And shortly after than I stopped using "head cement".

    Both changes simplified my tying without any noticeable decline in either the quality or durability of the finished product.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  20. Krusty Active Member

    Posts: 928
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +613 / 0
    I was taught to wax my thread about 50 years ago (as well as always using a penetrating head cement on a nicely wrapped whip finished head). Just don't like the look of a fly without it....though I agree that it probably contributes very little to a fly's durability. I either lose a fly, or eventually see its body and ass end get chewed to pieces by trout.

    I guess I've gotten so used to waxed thread that tying without it (and I've done it a few times) just doesn't 'feel' right. Maybe it's the tendency of non-waxed thread to not stick to the hook when I temporarily reduce thread tension for the addition of other materials. I always try to find my thread pre-waxed, and use beeswax when that's not possible.

    Hell, most of the stuff we do tying flies is just comforting ritual anyway. And if flyfishing and flytying ain't about ritual, it ain't about nothing.