To wax or not to wax

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

  1. Jack Devlin

    Jack Devlin Active Member

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    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.
     
  2. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    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!

     
  3. Ron Eagle Elk

    Ron Eagle Elk Active Member

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    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
     
  4. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    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
     
  5. Krusty

    Krusty Krusty Old Effer

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    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.
     
  6. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    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!

     
  7. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    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).
     
  8. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

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    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.
     
  9. Jack Devlin

    Jack Devlin Active Member

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    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
     
  10. 1morecast

    1morecast Active Member

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    I prefer unwaxed Danville thread. Sometimes I use Benichie <sp> thread. I like the way unwaxed thread lays flat on the hook.
     
  11. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    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
     
  12. Steve Kokita

    Steve Kokita FISHON206

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    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:
     
  13. Jack Devlin

    Jack Devlin Active Member

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    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]
     
  14. Jack Devlin

    Jack Devlin Active Member

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    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
     
  15. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    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