To wax or not to wax

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

  1. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,650
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    So far I've gotten away without using any wax, but I'm kind of a hack at tying anyway. I will take this as good advice, and save some coin. Thanks Curt!

  2. Preston Active Member

    Posts: 2,458
    .
    Ratings: +434 / 0
    I gave up waxing at about the same time I stopped using silk tying thread. I, too, gave up using head cement (at least on my trout flies). For some reason, I still prefer to have a smooth, shiny head on my steelhead bugs and use two or three coats of Sally Hansen nail polish (it dries fast and seems to work as well any head cement and is cheaper too).
  3. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,379
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +408 / 0
    Interesting idea about the fish's sense of smell. I had thought about that too. Bee's wax
    has a sweet smell, and it being natural to humans, I wonder if it is to fish also. Probably
    not.

    I suppose if you get really technical about it, it would depend on when and where you are
    fishing. A fast moving river would most likely cover the scent of foreign materials quite
    readily, whereas a slow moving stream or stillwater lake might not.

    But then again, maybe the fish just don't care. I have to admit that I have never mastered
    the thinking of a fish. I wish I could.

    As to the original question, I started tying in the mid 1960s and thought that dubbing
    required a wax. Smart, wasn't I. I also sealed every head with cement. But over time I
    discarded some ideas and retained others. Now I sometimes use cement, and sometimes
    use a wax. Not often. I find that the motor oil on my fingers makes the dubbing stick quite well.
  4. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    Interesting subject wax. Some of us do, some don't. Waxing thread came about when silk tying thread was used. I guess it was a necessity. A well waxed silk held materials in place on the hook and was less likely to rot than an unwaxed silk. Properly waxed thread eliminated the need for head varnish on small dries.
    I use wax for dubbing and still wax my thread although there are times when one doesn't want the thread to grip as has been mentioned. Call it a habit, a ritual, a tradition, whatever. It is the way I was taught. Today's pre-waxed threads are good but I wax them too. I wax, therefore I am!

    Regarding "smells": Maybe there is an opportunity here for an entrepreneur. SCENTED tying waxes!
    Shrimp, Garlic, Anise, Krill etc. ??????????????

    Jackd
  5. 1morecast Active Member

    Posts: 745
    Port Angeles
    Ratings: +49 / 0
    I prefer unwaxed Danville thread. Sometimes I use Benichie <sp> thread. I like the way unwaxed thread lays flat on the hook.
  6. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,685
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +244 / 1
    I use a variety of waxes for a variety of reasons.
    Overtons for touch dubbing or course/difficult dubbings.
    Beeswax for general purpose.
    A custom mix of wax and rosin also for touch and difficult dubbings, as sticky base for placement of uncooperative materials and as a coating on the base thread wrap under tinsel bodies. Try it under tinsel you'll like it.

    I really can't say that Overtons is all that much better than some other sticky waxes (ski wax). I question the addition of rosin in Overtons because rosin (or resin) hardens easily with exposure to air and Overtons remains unchanged after years of use.

    Solvent based head cement easily penetrates wax and/or resin. Not sure about water based head cement penetration.

    I often use wax in place of head cement. Especially on minimal heads of only a few wraps (spiders). Just wax an inch or two of thread when you are ready to whip finish. I think the friction/heat of pulling the whips tight helps the thread absorb some of the wax. Ive never had a problem with heads unraveling due to lack of adhesion.

    TC
  7. Steve Kokita FISHON206

    Posts: 573
    Burien, Washington
    Ratings: +135 / 0
    I stopped using moth balls because of the smell which seemed to last a long time.[/QUOTE]

    I haven't ever smelled moth balls, their little legs are too hard to separate. I'll just take your word for it. I also use my old chunk of bee's wax on old bamboo rod ferrules. (temp fix) :hmmm:
  8. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    PS Thanks Steve, you made my day!
    Jackd:rofl:I'm glad someone out there has a sense of humor. Sounds like a Gracie Allen routine.
    I haven't ever smelled moth balls, their little legs are too hard to separate. I'll just take your word for it. I also use my old chunk of bee's wax on old bamboo rod ferrules. (temp fix) :hmmm:[/QUOTE]
  9. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    Tim, I like your suggestion about waxing under tinsel. Will try it.
    Regarding Overtons: I don't know if Overtons is/was the best wax out there, rather, it is the one I use as a benchmark to judge others I try. I know Overtons and what it will do. In my experiments to duplicate Overtons, I always used rosin in varying amounts in the formulas. I came real close to duplicating it once but couldn't pin down the formula because I had remelted and reused previous attempts and lost track of the ratios.
    Thanks, Jackd
  10. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,685
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +244 / 1
    Another thing I find wax helpful for is in twisting floss into thread. There are times when I can't find just the right color silk thread for small fly bodies. Generally I use Pearsall's which is pretty limited in color range even with tonal adjustments from using light or dark waxes. Silk floss on the other hand has a much wider range of colors. Just tye in the floss and give it few strokes with a wax/rosin blend then twist it until it becomes round like a regular single ply twisted thread. You have to give it an additional twist with each body wrap to keep it tight. You can do this using just your fingers. Tools just get in the way. The addition of wax holds the twist together much better than without. Just like using wax on silk thread you do have to take into account the color change from the application of wax.

    For tinsel underbodies as well as twisting floss into thread I use a hard wax/rosin blend that you have to warm up before you use it.


    TC
  11. Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

    Posts: 2,572
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +105 / 0
    Kids Glue Stick
  12. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,398
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,356 / 9
    Really? I've got dozens of those dang things around here. Never thought to try it. I will now, thanks Daryle.
  13. scottflycst Active Member

    Posts: 1,711
    Ozark Mtn springwater
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    I only tried wax once. Made me scream like a girl when I ripped that stuff off. Who in the hell would want to do that again?
  14. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,398
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,356 / 9
    Two admissions against self interest there Scott:
    1. You screamed like a girl - no one asked if anyone ever screamed like a girl
    2. You waxed yourself and admitted to it - no one asked if you waxed yourself, we were talking about flies
    Now that you've properly redirected this thread into some sort of deviant direction, how'd that Brazillian Buns wax job work for you?
  15. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    Well, the last few posts have distracted me from the serious subject of fly tying waxes. We could continue with a discussion of Brazilian waxing , "Hollywood Wax", landing strips etc., but I think we should go back to fly tying wax.

    As suggested earlier, I tried some glue stick stuff today (kids wax) ON MY THREAD and it seemed to work fine. Certainly an inexpensive alternative to specific fly tying wax. As for myself, I will continue to wax MY THREAD as I have done for years. I guess it is part of the ritual or process of tying. Lord knows I have enough wax now to last a few tiers lifetimes with enough left over to do a few floors and yes perhaps even a few Brazilians.
    Jackd
  16. Loopy Member

    Posts: 403
    St Albans Old England
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Ditto

    My dark cobbler's wax comes from a stick made for waxing bagpipes I am led to believe it's one and the same.

    Sometimes I do use Dilly Wax on thread to help with dubbing deer hair.

    :)
  17. Evan Salmon Member

    Posts: 217
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +18 / 0
    Silver on soft bodies, red for dries? :thumb:
  18. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,147
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +961 / 1
    Back then I didn't know SWIX came in different colors. I had problems with dubbed bodies back then. I think I was playing with something hard like rabbit and needed a tacky wax to help spin it on. You know how tough rabbit is to noodle on thread.
  19. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,202
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +958 / 1
    The dark cobblers wax is used on the bagpipe joints. It is mostly pitch. I too use it to darken Pearsalls. Say, what is DILLY wax? That's a new one for me?
    Thanks, Jackd
  20. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,760
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +221 / 1
    Dilly wax..........isn't that the stuff off the DQ cups?