To wax or not to wax

Jack Devlin

Active Member
I wonder how many tiers use wax on their tying thread? I do. It is the "traditional" way I was taught some 45 years ago.
Most times I also use a waxed thread. There always was the argument that head varnish doesn't penetrate waxed thread but I have taken heads apart and found quite the opposite given that the varnish is thinned enough. I also use a tacky wax for dubbing although it is not always necessary with some of the commercial dubbing available today. I have gone back to making my own waxes again given that Overton's is no longer available and my supply is gone. Look forward to your comments and thoughts on this sometimes sticky subject.
Sounds like we started tying about the same time. This May it will be 46 years tying for me! I still use the same piece of wax my dad started me with. I just wax the first couple of inches after I start the thread on the hook, it's supposed to grab the hook better without spinning. I also use a sticky wax from Wapsi for dubbing, looks like the old "Crew Stick" for flat top hair cuts from the 60's. Guess we're just kinda old school.....or just old.


Active Member
I still have a piece of beeswax that was given to me by my father when I was kid. I wax enough thread that the shank gets wax as does the tail wraps and body up to the the hackle area. By the time I get to the head the wax portion is usually used up. Never noticed any problem with varnish on the heads. I also use Overton's Dubbing Wax for touch dubbing, Ice Dub, and other dubbing that doesn't grab the thread as much as I'd like.

Jack Devlin

Active Member
The reason I brought up the subject of waxing is that I don't see it being done very often on all the various you-tube stuff and instructional videos. Davie McPhail being one exception. I was taught to keep a small patch of wax on my bobbin hand index finger similar to the way Davie uses wax. I was taught by a Scotchman.
I too have tried SWIX wax from cross country skiing. Worked fine especially the klister or real sticky stuff for dubbing. Like a magnet. Overton's was probably the best wax. Too bad no one ever duplicated it. I like Veniards too which is still available. Have taken to making my own from rosin and beeswax. Fun to experiment and get just the right consistency. Good old plain beeswax good too. And it smells nice!
I used waxed thread and apply wax frequently to 90-percent of the flies I tied. If I am tying speyflies adorned with bronze mallard wings, i.e., I used unwaxed thread.

Mark Walker

Active Member
I have long thought the Overton's "magic, secret ingredient" is "rectified pine resins". Guess we'll never know now.
Thankfully, I still have 4 tubes left.:)

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Hmmm, I might need to get some good dubbing wax. I have some bars of Sex Wax (surfboard wax) lying around. I'd try that, but it smells like coconut and bananas, and would probably curse my flies.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I like wax, really allows me to mess with the arrangement of materials being spun onto thread or inside a dubbing loop. I'm not an old school tyer, only been at tying a few years.
Wow-- sex wax? conjured up some bad images:) Interesting to see what everyone has used based mosly on their age, and years of tying. I too tried SWIX and still have a tube of Overtons left, which I use with regularity. I was tught to use wax and waxed thread, although I find myself interested in non-waxed and dubbing loops, just hard to break the old traditions.

Dr Bob

Active Member
I use dubbing wax with certian dubbings I have trouble getting to stick to the thread.:thumb: I do not normally wax my tying thread. I don't seem to have a problem getting it to stick to the hook or anything like that. I tried it a few times but could not tell much difference.:hmmm:

Dr Bob :beer1:
I have long thought the Overton's "magic, secret ingredient" is "rectified pine resins". Guess we'll never know now.
Thankfully, I still have 4 tubes left.:)
Mark. Rosin is an ingredient in a good wax like Overtons. By the way, seeing that we are such close and long time friends, I'd be glad to hold onto one of those tubes for ya and keep it safe. What say Ol Buddy?