Dry Flies Floating On Air
Author of Unsinkable Dry Flies, David Cowardin introduces us to his thoughts and trials regarding using bubbles of air to keep our dry flies floating.
My quest to tie flies that look like a natural bug and floated well started a few years ago.
I wanted a fly that did not need large amounts of foam, hair, hackle, or dubbing to make it float. I experimented with all types of material: cork, balsa wood, urethane foams, etc. and found that all had one of two inherent problems. Either they were too stiff or would eventually need to have some type of floatant applied.
Then it struck me that air inside a tube should make a dry fly float on air. Tubing, but what kind, most tubing is to stiff, then while using Heat Shrink to repair an electrical cord I found the answer.
Since I tied the first Heat Shrink fly in 2004, I have found better Heat Shrink materials and developed tying techniques that have allowed me to produce unsinkable Heat Shrink flies that look and act on the water very much like the natural insects. This material and methods allow a fly tier to modify the patterns he or she ties in such a way that they can look like traditional flies or something entirely different. By different we mean more life-like because there is no longer a need to provide lots of foams, hair or hackle to achieve floatation and maintain buoyancy (see main photo for example).
Could this method of fly tying have the ability to revolutionize how dry flies are tied? Possibly, because Heat Shrink tubing allows a tier to attach an air bubble applied to the hook which then makes the fly unsinkable. This air bubble provides unsurpassed floatation in any type of water, and if properly tied makes a fly that has the characteristics of real insects.
We created a blog (http://unsinkableflies.blogspot.com/) to keep tiers informed of new and different techniques as well as products that have been found to be useful in tying flies using Heat Shrink.