Head cement types

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I switched years ago to the water based head cements as it doesn't dry up in the bottle.

Now I'm tying prototype flies for the married wing fly swap and trying to use the same water based head cement. I seem to be having a problem with the cement wicking up into the quill wing butts.

Is this why people switch back and forth between the thicker head cements and the liquidy water based head cements? What's the pro's and con's of both types. Until I tied these last two quill winged wet flies I thought the runnier head cement was wayyyy bettter.
Bill, the thin stuff, water based or not, as you know penetrates well but will wick, I use it very carefully on a head and stay back from the body or wing, same with Zap-a-Gap, I want the penetration. Then I'll use Sallies or really any clear fingernail polish for the nice shinny head, I also use black nail polish sometimes if needed prior to the clear. I know the feeling, I've done some ASF's and Spey's and had the same thing happen....Did you cry ???? I did !!!!

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I didn't cry but did say a couple of nasty words. Then I figured those flies were mine to do with what I wanted. The second prototype really came out nice what with the schlappin I got from David Loy for the beard hackle.
using a thin cement like grifs thin will penetrate into the thread wraps and wick up into quill slip wings but after the cement has dried it it still visible? and will the fish even care?

tying museum quality or wall hanging flies might need a different direction regading the cement.

i tie flies for fishing not for pretty displays. :D


Active Member

Remember when you saw me at the fly fishing fair in May? I was using a medium viscosity head cement for exactly the problem you are experiencing. I had Rumph Head Cement with me that day that I had left sit out with the lid off for a few hours to thicken it up a bit to get the desired viscosity. Wapsi Head Cement is the same thing. And Griffin's High Build is virtually the same thing as well.

If you want, you can buy a pint or quart of lacquer at the hardware store and it will provide you with the same type of medium viscosity cement. Don't forget to buy some lacquer thinner at the same time for when it thickens up and you have to put some of it into a much smaller jar of a few oz. at most to have a reasonably useful benchside bottle.