FLY TYING VARNISH
Varnish, Head Cement, and Glue
FLY TYING INSTRUCTION
http://www.flytyinginstruction.com
Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.

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FLY TYING VARNISH HEAD CEMENT
Varnish Varnish
Varnish can be found in most fly tying shops.
(Griff's has stopped manufacturing varnish)

Most flies have varnished heads to secure the thread and it gives the head an eye catching shine. There are several different brands and most are good, but some are better and require paying a premium price.

Fly tying varnish is available in thin or thick. Thin varnish will soak into the threads and secure them tightly. Thick varnish will add a extra dimension and glossy appearance. It is common practice to put two or more coats of varnish on the head of the fly. The first coat you would use a thin varnish to penetrate the threads and a second coat of thick varnish to add dimension and glass-like appearance.

Fly tying varnish can be water based or solvent based. The solvent based varnish is a little stronger, but these days water based formulas are just as durable and less of a factor. The main consideration might be when using waxed thread the water base varnish might not penetrate the wax.

VARNISH THREAD PENETRATION
Tested different brands and formulations of varnish.

Finger nail polish is a popular alternative to fly tying varnish. "Sally Hansen Hard As Nails" is probably the most recommended brand. While black is the most common color used when fly tying, you have almost every color under the sun to chose from, including glitter infused nail polish. Don't laugh at the idea for many of the best fly tyers use finger nail polish in place of varnish. It is readily available at many locations.

In case you want a thinner polish or it has thickened from age, you can buy fingernail polish thinner. Just a drop or two of thinner is all it takes to produce results.

Varathane Diamond Polyurethane
Varathane Diamond Polyurethane
Available in Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Clear Satin.
The gloss version is stronger and adheres better.
It is milky white in color but will dry to a clear
finish. (The reason we bought this brand was
specifically for working with polymer clay,
but it also worked for fly tying purposes.
There might be better formulations for fly
tying and will need to do more experiments)

Varathane Diamond Polyurethane works good. The water base finish has almost no odor and it is easy to clean any mess. There are several brands and formulations of varnish that would be worth the time to experiment. A quart can will last a long time and the price is much less than a equal amount of fly tying varnish or fingernail polish.

USES FOR OLD AND THICKENED VARNISH
After time and exposure to the air from opening and closing repeatedly, the varnish will start to thicken. You can buy varnish thinner and adding a very small amount should restore the varnish to it's original thickness.

Marabou Bug
Used old and thickened varnish
on this Marabou Bug

Some fly tying patterns call for old and thickened varnish. The above Marabou Bug used thickened varnish the length of the back, which is much better than throwing it away. About the same effect as using epoxy.

BRUSHES
Brushes are used to apply and spread the varnish. Some varnish bottles have caps with built in brushes. It is convenient to always have the brush right there, but it is a one-size-fits-all type brush with less control than an artist or micro brush.

PHOTO HERE
Small artist paint brush

A small sized artist brush works good. They are available in different price ranges. The quality of paint brushes range from horrible to incredible. The brush bristles can be constructed with a multitude of different fibers from horse hair to synthetic fibers. Some fibers are better adapted than others for applying varnish and usually the packaging will be labeled with recommend usage.

Micro Brushes
Micro Brushes
Small, medium and large sizes.
Micro brushes can be bought
at most hobby stores.

Micro brushes make it easy to apply varnish on small areas, such as the head of a fly or can cover a complete body smooth and evenly. They are cheap and can be wiped clean with a small piece of paper towel, lasting for several applications. Sold in packages of 10.
TIP#1: Use a small clean micro brush for removing any excess varnish within the eye of the hook.
TIP#2 - Cut off the tips of old micro brushes and they can be used to apply varnish similar to a bodkin.

FLY TYING BODKIN
A bodkin works effectively to apply varnish on the head of a fly. Dip the tip of the bodkin into the bottle of varnish and remove. A small amount of varnish will cling on the bodkin shaft and when touched to the head of a fly the droplets of varnish are transferred to the thread. For very small heads you could use a sewing needle.


Zap-A-Gap

Zap-A-Gap is completely water proof, which is important when tying a fly. Zap-A-Gap come in a plastic bottle with a long, fine tipped nozzle which allows for a more controlled application. Zap-A-Gap will start to dry in about 10 seconds.

Super glue
1 Ounce Bottle of Super Glue
This is Super Thin with 1-3 second
drying time. There are different thickness
and drying time lengths of super glue
available.

SUPER GLUE
Super glue can make a really strong fly and lock in fibers solidly, but must be used with caution. Super glue is not the cure for bad tying techniques. You want to buy good quality super glue that is waterproof.

Using too much glue or applied on the wrong materials and the procedure can't be undone. We have ruined a few flies when using super glue.

TIPS FOR USING GLUE ON A FLY
Don't glue fur, hair or feathers as they will become hard and brittle. Always use less than you think will be needed. You can always add more but it is almost impossible to remove any excess. When applying glue it is recommended to use a bodkin or needle for a more precise application. Just a small drop on the bodkin or needle will give you much more control than applying it directly from the bottle.

Drop of Super Glue on the Shank
Drop of Super Glue on the Shank
of the Needle. The glue or varnish
clings on the needle and can be
precisely applied onto the fly.

PREVENT GLUE TIPS FROM CLOGGING
Preventing glue nozzle tips from getting clogged.

FLY TYING INSTRUCTION
http://www.flytyinginstruction.com
Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.

FLY TYING VARNISH AND GLUE