Adding glue to your streamer heads is nothing new. It’s been done a lot, using an array of different glues and resins to achieve different swims, sink rates, shape profiles, etc. Between the glues and materials available to the modern tyer, the sky is literally the limit these days when designing streamers.
The fly in this post will take you back to basics, and illustrate how the simple combination of materials, glue, and keel can create a very unique and killer swim in the water.
Step 1: Spin up the back section to your fly and set it aside. For this fly, I’m using an Ahrex TP605. This hook is about a 2xl with a good size gap and gives me the length, profile and taper I’m trying to achieve.
Step 2: Take another TP605, 1 size up from the back section and secure it in the vise on an angle to apply the keel weight. You can use whatever you want here depending on your river, and how quick you want the fly to cut the column. This fly is meant to swim with a “walk the dog” movement, so don’t overdo it here. I’m using a medium tungsten scud weight from Hareline. I find that putting the keel on the bend creates a hinge effect on the strip, struggling with the somewhat buoyant head, and makes the fly move erratically in the water.
Step 3: Connect the back to the front and prevent future hand stabbings by securing the back with your hook retainer (shameless plug, now available from Renzetti on all Traveler and Clouser vise models).
Step 4: Build up your front section and leave about ¼ of the shank for the head. For this fly you will want a coarse brush material for the head to hold shape, absorb the glue, and create buoyancy to fight the keel. Here I’m using a 3” Sculpting Flash brush from Just Add H2O/RD in Glass Minnow (very productive colour). Tie it in and give it about 6 wraps or until you get the bulk you’re looking for. Don’t overdo it here, a little goes a long way…
Step 5: Tie off and pick out the brush until all fibres are free and standing up. Collar back the material to hold it in place while you work (shhhh, more to come on this later).
Step 6: Glue on some eyeballs. I like to set the eyes back on this one which gives you a gauge on where to stop gluing. You need eyes on your flies…
Step 7: I use Softex for these types of heads. Or Flexament. I find that this stuff has the perfect viscosity and set up time. I drip it (don’t brush it) onto the head using a paint brush until I’m happy. Drip drip, rotate. Drip drip, rotate. The goal is to form a head without overdoing it so it creates almost a sheath effect when it sets. This makes it very flexible, durable, and just buoyant enough to fight the keel and jackknife around on the strip. If you like your UV resins, Loon thin will do alright here.
Step 8: Leave it alone until it dries. If I’m tying a batch of these, I stick them somewhere where they won’t move to dry, like a material prep station. On the cheap, my favourite drying rack is a block of that weird florist foam stuff you can get at your local dollar store. With Softex, you don’t need to worry about it settling or falling out of the material because it sets up pretty quick, but just leave it alone and let it do its thing!
Step 9: Take the fly and go catch fish!