Friday, February 15, 2008

Stuff We Like, One

During the long Alaska winter, We spend a lot of time in the Tying Wing of the Neil Creek Mansion and National Monument. Years of winding thread and being covered in bunny fuzz have led us to some fairly strong opinions on what sucks and what doesn't, so we would like to take this opportunity to share some of this with y'all.

As far as bobbins go, good ones get the job done, great ones are few and far between, and bad ones can make the whole fly-tying experience suck out loud. When we first started tying, we used a crappy metal-tubed, wire-legged bobbin that had the nasty habit of cutting thread at inappropriate moments. You know the type...light, cheap, big plastic knobs that let the spool slip out every now and a word, Lacking. With the awakening of the Inner Geek, we went in search of a better bobbin.

After many years of sifting through the chaff, we came upon the C&F Designs bobbin, and the search was over. Ergonomically correct yet not asymmetrical, heavy enough to keep tension yet not clunky, and a ceramic tube to boot. This bobbin is the cat's ass of tying tools.

Scissors are another make-or-break piece of equipment in the tier's arsenal. Tying scissors are about the most abused tool on the bench, cutting bead-chain, copper wire, and the like. Cheap scissors get the job done for about 4 minutes before they are too dull to trim fine hair or thread without leaving a spray of ends all over the place, and even some good scissors fail the 100lb. spectra test right out of the box. Others seem to hold up for awhile, only to bend or loosen after prolonged use.

Rubis of Switzerland makes cosmetic and surgical equipment, and their scissors are the Tool that Rule. Sharp as hell, strong as all get-out, these scissors can go from cutting 50lb. firewire right to trimming even the most gossamer CDC plume.

For years, we used Fly Dope for head-dressing as well as fixatives in the tying process. After having several flies explode after a few fish, we went in search of a better glue. We tried Flexament. We tried Gudebrod cement. We tried Loon, Umpqua, Cabela's...they all sucked. Some would cloud up after a few casts, some would peel, and some would slough off in salt water.

A buddy turned us on to Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails a few years ago, and we haven't looked back. One coat and you are good to go. We have had flies come back from client days with chips out of the eyes, broken hooks, and shredded fish hair...but the head is always intact. This stuff is great.

For an all purpose fixative, it is pretty hard to beat zap-a-gap. Everything from marabou to bunny strips sticks like crazy with this stuff, and it is a great way to beef up stinger rigs as well. We once had a noted commercial tyer tell us that zap-a-gap was far too time consuming to use for stinger rigs, but with all due respect, we think that knotting your trailers 8 or 10 times is way more time-consuming than just hittin' the hook with a few drops and overwrapping. Just sayin'.

At any rate, that's what we dig.

What's your story?


Yi said...

Tend to agree on the Hard as Nails. I tried the rest and come back to Sally every time.

Zap-A-Gap is good but I've since switched over to Loctite with the easy squeeze bottle. Less mess.

Good looking fly.

bigb said...

I agree on the scissors. For those looking for them, they are from the Mark Petitjean line. Any fine fly shop that carries Hareline tying products can get them.