Do you use silk?


Active Member
I am very addicted to fly tying and try to sit down at my bench 4 or 5 times a week. My trout and lake boxes now have more than enough to get me through the year so I wanted to try some of the classic steelhead patterns. This may be a silly question, but whenever a pattern has called for silk I substitute uni floss. But watching Hans and others videos on the forums has me wanting to do it right. So how many of you actually use silk, or do you just use something like uni floss? What is the advantage of silk over floss?

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I use silks for tying soft hackles. Reason for it is the silk darkens when wet. Rayon floss stays the same wet as when dry. But I caught fish on the rayon floss soft hackles too.
I use silk thread (Pearsall's Gossamer) to tie almost all wet flies and soft hackles. Not only for the historical aspect, I also like the color shifts when using different waxes. Very interesting to play with.

I also prefer silk floss to rayon or nylon because of the translucency of the silk and the color changes when wet.

I do use man made fibers in both thread and floss, but prefer to use the silks.
For fishing flies, like those in my summer box, I use Rayon floss, because its cheaper and when I'm tying 10 or 20 it helps keep the cost down for things I'll lose on rocks in a couple weeks.

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
I use both silk thread and silk floss as a body material mostly because its beautiful. The color and sheen are a step beyond synthetics. I tie flies that I like and I just hope the fish like them too. So far we have been in agreement on numerous occasions. I do use synthetics also but nine times out of ten I prefer the naturals.



Active Member
I use both silk thread and silk floss as a body material mostly because its beautiful. TC
Thanks Tim, that is a great reason and my flies need all of the help they can get, I think I only ask questions when I have mostly made up my mind but need just one bit of justification to pull the trigger!


I use silk but it will take me forever to go through that WWII parachute I bought at the Army surplus store...
I often use silk especially when I tie up some of the classic patterns and want them to be just like the originals. I have lots of UNI Floss all colors and use that too.

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
When I need silk I just hop on the next flight to Assam and collect cocoons from the endemic wild moths. At home, at my tying station (otherwise known as the kitchen table), I just unwind it straight off the cocoon and onto the hook. ;)


Dr Bob

Active Member
Interesting timing. I have tyed my soft hackles with floss anf thread bodies for many years but just recently (in the last month) purchased some silk to try. i have not tried it yet but will be doing some soft hackles in a few weeks. I have heard it does have the color change when wet. I have had good success with my floss and thread body flies.

Dr Bob
An advantage of silk is the translucence when wet. If you paint the body area with white lacquer before winding the floss, the white will provide a subtle visual accent when the silk is wet. In the UV, the difference is even greater.
Also, some killer patterns like the Pink Lady were tied with silk floss and I believe the pattern is more effective with the silk.

Below are two gray palmer bivisibles, rayon body on left, silk body on right. The difference in the UV is more marked.

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