Hook: Daiichi X472 #2-#6
Tail: Pearlescent Flashabou
Underbody: Pink and white Antron or the core from the Super Weave Mylar tubing is a good source for white underbody material. Silver Flashabou on bottom pearl Flashabou on top plus an additional topping of darker Flashabou such as black or peacock. On larger versions add a splash of purple Flashabou.
Lateral Line: Pearl or Purple Flashabou
Over Body: Super Weave Mylar
Eyes: 1.5mm (XS) Tape Eyes, Silver
Gills: Red Permanent Marker
Dorsal Body Marking: Black Permanent Marker
Body Finish: Devcon 2 Ton Epoxy
Add Daiichi hooks to your order and receive $5.00 USD off the purchase price. Use Coupon Code PRFB2015 at check out. (limit one per customer)
Tying Note: Coloration constantly varies amongst species, from area to area and the particular mood of the needlefish. Pattern components should mirror these variations as local conditions dictate.
With the interest in salt water fly fishing growing worldwide the number of epoxy based patterns has jumped exponentially. Nearly all saltwater fish feature razor sharp teeth as standard equipment and an even nastier disposition. Fly pattern durability is critical and epoxy rises to this challenge. Epoxy, as with many materials available to the fly tyer takes a little getting used to but with practice and knowledge is a versatile ally. Coating patterns or portions there of is the most common epoxy application. Others are now finding other uses both within the actual construction of the fly or designing flies created almost entirely of epoxy.
Barry Stokes is amongst British Columbia’s finest fly tyers. When he is not performing his Production Manger duties with Islander Reels Barry loves to chase searun cutthroat near his Victoria home or Coho on the open ocean and around their natal streams. Barry’s Epoxy Needlefish traces its catalytic roots to patterns created by known epoxy magicians Shawn Bennett and Lise Peters. Barry has taken Shawn and Lise’s concepts creating a devastating pattern that performs with equal guile on cutthroat and ravenous Coho. Using a Stillwater line most of the time, Barry fishes his Epoxy Needlefish in a darting erratic manner. A loop knot and wiggling rod tip provides additional seductive persuasion. If needlefish aren’t present Barry employs his Epoxy Needlefish as a change up or searching pattern. Many fish find its varied colors and inherent shimmer irresistible.
There is a variety of epoxy on the market today, both brand and cure time. Frequent epoxy addicts favor Devcon 2-ton epoxy as its longer cure provides prolonged working times and a superior finish than shorter cure types such as 5 minute. Air temperature has an effect on epoxy working time, the higher the temperature the shorter the working time. A consideration when toiling at a light doused tying bench. Longer cure epoxies provide superior results due to a reduced risk of water penetration and annoying yellowing. As with most products reading the label to discover the nuances of each manufacturer pays large dividends easing frustration.
Cure times can be extended through the strategic addition of 70% rubbing alcohol or acetone. Avoid lesser percentage solutions of rubbing alcohol due to their increased water content. Acetone is a volatile substance and should be used in a well ventilated area. It is also a great cleaning agent for epoxy coated tools. When using an additive such as acetone or rubbing alcohol do so in judicious amounts by adding one drop at a time. Keep in mind, thinned epoxy is not as user friendly and may take some practice when working with it.
The biggest challenge most face when using epoxy is getting the correct hardener to resin ratio. Equal amounts of each must be used or the epoxy never cures. In some instances a coating of clear nail polish provides salvation. However, it is wiser to focus upon proper mixing technique. A few simple tools ease epoxy mixing fuss and frustration. Use a Post it Note or white card as a mixing palette. Some favor white cards over colored fearing dyes from the colored mixing palette may taint the epoxy. The small mixing palette is ideal for those who can’t the temptation to touch their flies before they have cured. Instead of fondling the fly and risking the chance of messing it up touch the epoxy mix on the palette. When the mix is dry so is the fly.
Mix the epoxy using a homemade 3/8 inch wide cardboard spreader cut with an angled tip or a metal dentist probe, another good reason to visit the dentist. Wooden spreaders such as Popsicle sticks are avoided by serious epoxy wizards, concerned about contaminating the mix. Use a gentle folding motion and change directions during the mixing process. Avoid aggressive strokes as this adds unwanted air bubbles that are difficult to remove. Should air bubbles form it is possible to remove them by exhaling on the epoxy while mixing. Work the epoxy puddle in from the edges to ensure all components are thoroughly mixed. A ring around the perimeter of the puddle is a sure sign epoxy has not been correctly mixed. Interesting effects can be created by adding materials to the mix such as fine pearlescent powders. Avoid coarse materials as these tend to texture the final finish. Epoxy can also be colored through the strategic addition of acyclic craft paint. As with alcohol or acetone additions use small drops of paint to tint epoxy. Coating fly heads with metallic nail polish prior to any epoxy application is another worthwhile technique.
Once the fly or better yet flies are tied and the epoxy is mixed it is time to coat the pattern using the cardboard spreader, probe or a small disposable brush. Rod building suppliers are an ideal source of disposable brushes. Use a smooth gentle sweeping motion to apply the mix along the length of the area. Avoid dabbing as this causes ugly lumps and bumps. Apply as thin a coat as possible. It is better to add two thin coats as opposed to one thick application. Place the coated fly into a rotary dryer. Electric or battery powered rotary dryers can be fashioned at home or purchased. Look for a slow rotation rate, around 10 RPM is ideal. Leave the finished flies on the dryer until they are completely dry, typically 12 to 24 hours. Let the manufactures recommendations be the guide.
Epoxy is not confined to the saltwater or toothy critter tyer. Bullet proof chironomids by coating the body with rod winding epoxy or add an epoxy dollop on a wingcase of a favorite nymph. The popular Copper John is an example of a nymph pattern that put this trick to deadly effect.