Choosing The Right Fly Fishing Floatant
To Dip, Dunk, Shake, Spray or Brush?
So what is the best way to keep your flies dry and riding high? There are many choices in fly fishing floatants these days, and knowing when and how to use them is important to keeping your flies floating high. Floating flies are extremely important when fishing dry flies. If your flies are not floating properly, then they will be rejected by picky fish. I have had many times where I am fishing to a fish with a half sinking fly and thought it was good enough to get the job done…but NOT true! After several attempts, I pull the fly in, dried off the fly and retreat the fly. Next cast, WHAM! The fish eats it. So what fly fishing floatant do you use and when?
Gel Floatants are the most common form of fly fishing floatants and they have been around for ages. Gink and Loon Floatants continue to be some of the best pre-treatment floatant for flies. The best way to use gel floatants is to use them as a “pre” treatment. You must apply the gel floatant to a “bone dry” fly, right out of the fly box. You cannot apply floatant gel to a wet fly, doing so will lock in the water and cause the fly to sink more! The excess gel floatant must also be removed from the fly before fishing. If the fly is soaked in gel, then it will also sink. I false cast the fly a few times to “whip” off the excess gel.
Most Gel Floatants are not CDC friendly. Adding Gink to CDC will matte down the CDC and make it sink. New technology has developed new floatants that are CDC friendly. Loon and Tiemco now offer CDC friendly gel floatants, that can be used on all flies!
CDC Friendly Floatants Choices:
Loon Lochsa Floatant (My Top CDC Gel Choice)
Tiemco Dry Magic (Super $$$)
Gel Floatants Choices:
Loon Aquel (A Great Gel Floatant, a little more temperature friendly than Gink)
Gink Floatant (My #1 Gel Floatant, been around for decades and still works!)
Loon Royal Gel (Same as Aquel, just added sparkle)
Powder Shake Floatant
Powder Shake Floatants are great treatments once the fly is saturated with water. Shake Floatants are designed for larger flies, #14 and larger. Shake Floatants are very easy to use. Simply drop the wet fly into the container and shake! This action will dry the fly off, and lightly treat it. Most shakes are desiccants and floatant, but they have a tendency to coat the fly and not get worked into the fly. Meaning you will have to apply more often. Once a fly is dropped in dry shake, you have just a few cast before the fly is soaked again. Many guides and anglers shake, then retreat their flies with a gel floatant again. This is more labor intensive, but it will keep the flies floating longer.
Powder Shake Floatant Choices:
Loon Top Ride (My top Powder Shake, very effective and budget friendly)
Loon Easy Dry (Great pure desiccant)
Loon Blue Ribbon (A great straight powder floatant)
Shimazaki Shake (Also extremely $$$, look at Top Ride for great alternative choice)
Brush On Floatants
Brush on floatants are great floatants for small flies (#16 and smaller). The great thing about most brush on floatants is that they both dry and treat flies. This is a time saver, because the fly will float longer then flies treated with dry shake. The down side to brush on floatants is that they do not work well on large flies and take more time to apply. The brush on floatants are perfect for small delicate mayflies and small midges. With brush on floatants, you must coat the whole fly. This is why the brush on floatants work so well on small flies, and not on large flies. Coating a size 04 hopper with a brush on floatant takes forever, dry shake is a much better choice for large flies.
Brush On Floatant Choices:
Frog’s Fanny (By far my #1 floatant choice! I LOVE this stuff!!)
Loon Dust (Similar Frog’s Fanny substitute)
Fly Duster (Also, very similar to the two above floatants)
Spray On Floatants
Spray on fly fishing floatants are becoming a quick trend. The great thing about spray on floatants is that they are so easy to use! If your fly is sinking, then just pull the fly in and spray it! It is as simple as that. Today we not only have pre treatment spray on floatants, but also Dry Shake Spray On Floatants! Tiemco just released Shimazaki Dry Shake Spray, which is Dry Shake Powder in a spray can! Spray On Floatants work best for larger flies. Small flies tend to get easily drenched and not evenly coated. Spray on floatants are great for hopper and large stoneflies! This is the ultimate lazy anglers’ choice!
Spray On Floatant Choices:
Shimazaki Dry Shake Spray (Work okay, very $$$)
Loon Spritz II
Dip and Dunk Floatants
Dip and Dunking flies in floatant is also quickly becoming a trend. More recently, guides have been blending gels and chemicals together in the search of the best dipping floatant. Dipping and Dunking flies is the most effective as a pre treatment for flies. Most dipping floatants work best after the fly completely dries. Plus, carrying a jar of liquid to the river is not feasible for most anglers. It can easily be spilled or dropped. The best way to use dip floatants is to soak the fly and let it dry for 5 minutes and then use it!
Dip and Dunk Floatant Choices:
Loon Hydrostop (Works great as a pre-treatment)
XXX-Agra (formerly known as Fly-Agra) – (Amazing stuff, but I doubt it is very enviro friendly)
Paste fly fishing floatants are similar to the standard gel floatants, but much thicker in texture. Paste Floatants can be used on large flies, but are really meant to be used on indicators and fly lines. Paste floatants are a great tool for keeping your fly fishing line and yarn indicators floating high. The thick floatant also tends to last much longer then standard gel floatants, but do not think these are great floatants for small flies. Paste floatants tend to glob on and drown small flies. They are great on hoppers and flies larger than size 08.
Paste Floatant Choices:
Loon Payette Paste