Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Homemade Floatant

Gink (15 ml's)
Cabelas $3.99
I am updating this post because it is one of my most popular and, although this homeade is great floatant, it is very FLAMMABLE and I personally prefer ALBOLENE (See "Most Economical Floatant"). It is much safer to work with and at only $11.99 for 12 ounces, a jar from your local pharmacy, will last you almost a lifetime. I would like to warn you though, as with ALL floatants, store in a tight container or in your cooler, for they will leak all over your vest in the heat of summer if you don't. They all melt easily.

"Homemade Floatant" made from red (label) mucilin & lighter fluid and written by YellowStoneFly at the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. My favorite guide on the Big Horn suggested a mixture of red mucilin and lighter fluid on day when I was complaining about the cost of Gink. Now there are different ratios, but I find that 3:1 lighter fluid to mucilin works the best. And just so I want forget, THIS FLOATANT IS HIGHLY FLAMMABLE. Because mucilin is basically paraffin, if this solution gets onto your vest or shirt it stays for a long time. If you then light a cigarette or your favorite cigar, be very careful for you could ignite.

Red (label) mucilin - Cabelas $4.79
Now here's what I do. Take a red solo cup (check out Toby Keith's new song) and empty the contents of the mucilin container (about 15 ml's). Then take your lighter fluid and fill up the mucilin container three times with your lighter fluid. Dump into the red solo cup containing your mucilin. Now you have to mix. I use a kitchen knife to scoop the contents from the mucilin container and mix with the lighter fluid; don't tell my wife for she would be pissed. The mixing process takes a while. Now remember do not heat (IS FLAMMABLE) to melt the paraffin mucilin. It usually takes me about 15 minutes of continuous stirring to get the mucilin dissolved.

Ronsonol lighter fluid -
Amazon.com (5 oz.) $2.08
I will admit, this does make a very good floatant for your dry flies. It makes about 60 ml's of floatant, which should last you at least a couple of seasons depending on how much you fish. The total expense is about $8.96 for 60 ml's. Four bottles of Gink would cost you almost twice that. So you be the judge. I do not think it is any better as a floatant than Gink. So if you have already bought your red (label) mucilin and do not want to risk burning down your house, save it for fly line dressing (subject of an upcoming post).

Solo cup - $0.10 
3 oz. bottles Walgreens's $1.99
Regardless of you fishing skills, your fly will eventually get wet and sink unless you break a lot of them off on fish or trees. So I would suggest "dressing" your dry flies with something before they ever hit the water. After they have been used, make sure you dry them very well before you apply any floatant. PS - A floatant can be used on a fly over and over again. This will not ruin the fly unless you use too much floatant and mar the hackle feathers.

Top Ride Desiccant
Sierra Trading Post
Lastly, even if you dress with a good floatant, you will still have to attend to the fly you have been using all day, if it is still usable, when it is the only one you have and all that the fish are hitting. I still use "Top Ride Desiccant" by Loon. A 2 ounce bottle lasts me all season and is only $4.50 and well worth it. Simply dip the fly into the bottle and shake after closing the lid. Your fly will come out white, but one dip into the water will fix that and it will continue to float high and dry for sometime thereafter. The process may have to be repeated from time to time, but keep 'em dry when you have to.

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          Bull River, Montana
          Winter Doldrums


  1. The very first floatant that I ever used, and made for about the first 15-20 years of my 48 year fly fishing career was the exact recipe. And it worked great! The only problem was when the temperature cooled down, and it would begin to solidify. the only thing that I could do when I was on the river was to put my little bottle under my armpit. If it got really cold, you were Sh** out of luck!

  2. Dear David,

    You are absolutely correct. But all floatants I have found get very thin in summer and thick in winter. I have now converted exclusively though to Albolene--gets less thin and less thick. Go to "Most Economical Floatant" on my blog. Just found 12 oz on Walmart's site for $9.74. I have been using the same 12 ounce jar for at least 5 years and still have more than half left. I personally believe Albolene is exactly the same as "Gink" (< 1/2 oz for $5.99 @ Bass Pro) plus it is not flammable.

    If you have been fly fishing for as long as you say, you should consider joining all of us more mature guys at the Idaho Fly Fishers Association (hover tabs at top below header) for one of our summer trips. Great fun!.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Hard takes and happy New Year!