Tips on how to keep dry fly floating

float

5th August 2019

It’s really important, no one wants the fly sink after a few seconds.
In some situations, like fishing in a lake, a dry fly can float for several minutes waiting to be bait.

One of the most important things is the hook choice, has to be light or medium weight, better if it is light but if you are fishing in a spot where there are huge fish use a lightweight hook can be risky, a powerful fish can bend or break it.
Once you choose the right hook you have to think about the material on your fly, has to be lightweight and water-repellent as much as possible.

Material

Some natural material is inborn water-repellent, by nature, like Cul De Canard (CDC).
The CDC feathers grow in the area around the duck’s oil gland, those feathers are permeate of natural oil which keeps even very large flies floating. This feature, the amazing lifelike in the water and the wide choice of natural color make this feather one of the most used in the fly tying.
There is a fly, invented and developed by the Italian fly-tier Agostino Roncallo, made by a single feather of CDC, this fly is called Mirage. Mr. Roncallo developed several patterns with CDC, he is a real expert in this material.
Most of them are really interesting, but the Mirage because of its simplicity is one of his best patterns, in my humble opinion.

cdc
CDC feathers
Other feathers used in the fly tying, as cock capes or saddles, or hairs, like deer hairs, have a very good water-repellent property but you can improve the floating by adding some specific products, which we will speak later in the post.

Nowadays, thanks to technology, we have as well a huge selection of synthetic materials for tying our flies.
One widely used for dry flies is foam, you can find it in the market in different shapes, already made with a specific purpose, or in sheets, blocks, and cylinders, which you can shape yourself.
A fly made by foam is a guarantee about buoyancy, it can’t sink.

cdc
Foam
Another synthetic material largely used in dry fly patterns is synthetic dubbing, there are different types made with different fibers in the market, like antron or super-fine dubbing.
Those dubbings are easy to apply on the thread, with the help of some wax, and handy to roll on the hook (buy it on Amazon).

Once the flies are ready to go from the box you can still apply some floating material, a treatment to keep them water repellant.

Treatments

Treatments are on a gel (buy it on Amazon) or silicone (buy it on Amazon), to apply on the fly, in minimum quantities, but not on the CDC, if it is not specific for CDC, (like this on Amazon).
Anyway, after some fish hooked the fly will be soaked, this is the time to use another material to restore the fly during the fishing action. This product is the Dry Shake, a container with desiccant powder where you put your fly inside. After a few shakes take out the fly, blow away the excess powder and apply a floating treatment again. The fly will be nice and floating again, (buy it on Amazon.)
An old technique to dry the flies consists to use chamois leather, usually sold in pieces for car glass cleaning. It is a super absorbent material, keep it in the waders pocket during the raining days, (buy it on Amazon).

It can be really frustrating to go fishing with a dry fly with no really good floating properties, make sure to tie your flies with the proper materials and have always with you some treatments to keep the flies at its best.