Check out the book "Pop Fleyes" by Bob Popovics and Ed Jaworowski. They kind of pioneered the technique. They use a two coat system with 5 minute epoxy. The first coat sets up the shape, the second coat smoothes it out. Use a bodkin to apply the epoxy. For a basic ""Surf Candy", satuarate the wing material with epoxy all the way back to the bend of the hook using your bodkin to get the epoxy into the fibers. When you have enough epoxy into the fibers (not so much that it's dripping) pull them back to smooth out the profile and hold it til the epoxy cures. If you want, now is a good time to sprinkle some glitter for some sparkle. Try to keep everything on top of the hook so you don't close off your hook gap. After it sets, apply eyes, and maybe foil for the belly, a gill plate, some flash for a lateral line. Be creative. Then mix some more epoxy and coat it, again using your bodkin to direct the drip around the head. Then turn it by hand, upside down, then right side up...back and forth, controlling the drip til it sets. Let it cure overnight and you're ready to fish. If you have a problem with stray fibers going off in all directions, swim the fly into a stream of hot water out of a hot water dispenser or tea kettle and let it dry pointing up. It's also a good idea to trim up material into a stream line baitfish shape, a little bit at a time using the tips of your scissors. Good luck. Please post pictures your creations and share any insights you discover along the way.
I can't stand messy epoxy!! I use clear cure or even uv wader repair in a pinch.... application is a breeze and you can fish with the flies SECONDS after tying them. check it out. you'll never use epoxy again. I know i won't. And it dries CLEAR everytime.
Another trick with 5 minute epoxy is to warm it up by holding it close to a light after you mix it. This has the effect of thinning it, which helps to remove bubbles created while mixing. It also makes it easier to saturate the material with it and make thinner coatings for smaller heads. You can also make really life like shrimp and crab eyes by burning heavy pound test mono or nylon guitar strings, color them with a brown or tan sharpie and then dip them into heat thinned epoxy.
I made one attempt with epoxy and made such a mess I said "fuck it" and never touched it again. Now I use UV Clear Fly Finish by Loon Outdoors.
I'm sure it's more expensive than epoxy if you're going to be tying up MOE or surf candy style flies, but for finishing minnow heads (bullet style, etc), I find with the UV Clear Fly Finish I waste almost zero product- I simply squeeze it out of the tube directly on to the fly's head while rotating the fly in the vice. Once I've made the desired shape I give it a quick couple flashes with the UV light and it's ready to fish. No mixing, no messing, no waiting for it to cure. Squeeze, shape, shine and fish.
What I've noticed about some of the UV cures is they are tacky even after being cured. I have some Clear Cure Goo "Tack Free". I bought it right after it was introduced. It still has some tack to it after it is cured. I either coat it with Hard as Nails or whip it with alcohol. Perhaps since it has been out for awhile, they've refined it because what I have isn't tack free to say the least.
A buddy just ordered some Bug Bond, so I'm waiting to hear how he likes that product.
I find working with epoxy to be very simple. I use 30 minute and have a drying wheel I made that will hold 16 flies at a time.
As noted earlier, Eric "aka Kerfwappie" puts out some killer flies using epoxy.
Once the fly has been exposed to direct sunlight, that tackiness usually goes away. The light, though UV, cures the product almost instantly, but I did notice that the slight tackiness went away as soon as the fly was brought outside into direct sunlight while on the water or just simply placed outside in the sun while I tied up other flies...
I've never used any other product besides the Loon UV Clear Fly finish, and I'm not really sure if that specific product is touted as being tack free, but if it is, it really isn't. If there is one that is actually tack-free, sign me up. I do find it a little annoying that even my cured flies do have that residual tack until I take them outside. Stonefish: I fully agree with you!