"Tough'n up" your flies

A couple weeks ago I had "one of those days", in a good way. I lost most of my fish after the fifth or sixth aerial. The ones I did manage to get to hand took every bit of finesse I could manage. They weren't particularly "big" fish, most only measured in the mid to upper teens but two did go well over twenty, and FAT.

It was a blast! Until.....my flies began to come apart. That's what happens when a dozen or so fish annihilate each fly. So it got me thinking outside the box.

The night before I went out a few days ago I decided to "polish" my flies. I took head cement and nail polish and "coated" the top of my wet flies. My flies lasted way past their termination date this time. Just thought I'd pass it along.

I don't know, maybe everyone here already does this and I'm just behind the times....story of my life it seems sometimes. :)

Brad Niemeyer

Old School Member
I use clear nail polish to toughen up my rubberbandit stonefly nymphs. Epoxy is often used on nymphs to harden them "Poxy back" is a common pattern now...also saltwater anglers have long been using epoxy and UV acrylic to create surf candy type flies that are tougher than teeth.


Skunk Happens
It is an honor for a fly to be shredded by multiple fish. My ties have not earned the right to be called durable for sure. I don't glue down my parachute hackle, but after I had a purple haze get shredded this Sunday, I was thinking I should change that.

On a side note, we're putting a poacher patrol together for the 23rd or 24th if you're available. I should have real details tomorrow or the next day.
You bet Stweart. I'm in Jackson Hole until the 22nd, back just in time it sounds. Let me know.

As far as your flies not having the honor, just remember....I got lucky. And all my flies require extra glue because of my lack of sklz.


Active Member
When i started tying i used as little thread as i could on flies . i guess i got used to tying dry's and carried this habit into every fly i tied . then i started tying again a couple years ago and watched some youtube videos and couldn't believe how much thread they used , so i started doing the same . then i started tying chiro's and coating them with nail polish , now i use nail polish for everything , i try and never tie a weighted fly without first covering the weight and thread on the bare hook with nail polish , then when i finish the fly the polish helps hold everything together . they last a whole lot longer then you used too !


Active Member
Lots of things you can do. Durable flies keep you accounts when you tie commercially. I definitely tug on streamer wings when I'm in a fly shop... When you have the underbody on what is going to be a dubbed nymph done, apply a coating of flexament or similar to the underbody, then while still wet dub. counterwrap your bugger hackle with fine wire. Make a "rope" by twisting a loop of thread and multiple peacock or ostrich herls when wrapping a body. Tons of opportunities to strategically use adhesive if you think about it.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Who worries about how long a fly lasts. That's why you all tie so many of them. And that why I buy what I need. I tend to snap them off or hook the trees on the other bank or try to land the rocks from the bottom.
Some flies need not be tough.
My dries and emergers are not tough and I like it that way, I catch more fish.
Nymphs and chrino's get a little extra coating.
Toothy critters like browns and tigers are tough on flies. I like toothy critters.
If I don't loose the fly I will rebuild it later.


Active Member
when i tie saltwater flies, i lay a bead of superglue over the first thread wraps on the hook. tends to grab ahold of the materials as i apply them, sometimes fingers too :)


Skunk Happens
When I tie in a elk or deer hair wing like on a stimulator, I put some Flexament or similar glue on the butt ends once the wraps are started. Then finish wrapping over the wet glue. If I'm especially glue-happy, I'll glue the tail too.

I wrap peacock herl around the tying thread 4-5 times after I tie in the tips. Philster must use a slightly different method it sounds like, but probably very similar results. Keeps a broken herl from unravelling all the way.

When tying bead-head flies, I take some non-lead wire and make 3-5 wraps behind the bead and jam it up into the hole at the back of the bead. You can then wrap tying thread over the wire and shank a few times and it keeps the bead from pushing back when removing the hook from a fish or the back of your hat.
I beat my flies brutally and routinely against rocks, trees, and anything on the bank. It whips the whimpy ones into shape and makes them real manly and "tough". I think the problem is you are coddling your flies and that's why you are having problems. Try toughening them up!!! ;)