Epoxy is a wonderful material for fly tying as it
adds durability and a certain sparkle to the heads of
many of our most productive flies, particularly those
used in saltwater.
We can ad sparkle compounds to it and get a glittering
effect as well as the above mentioned durability.
We apply it often in a single heavy coat, and the resulting
sags sometimes add a certain creative flair to our offering,
though accomplished through no purposeful intent at the
outset of the session.
Regardless of how skilled or unskilled we may be as tiers,
especially when it comes to epoxies, we frequently are
less than absolutely precise in our measuring and
preparation of these two part miracles.
Epoxies dry or actually "cure" as part of a catalytic process.
They cure through the internal generation of heat. If the
temperature and duration are just right, we have a complete
cure. If either is off by much, we have an incomplete cure,
and tacky mess.
Think of it as baking a cake, that isn't quite done!
Many factors can influence the proportions of each of the
two parts as they are prepared, which can lead to an
The first, improper measuring, can be caused by careless
mixing, an un-expected or un-seen air bubble in one or
the other of the parts, and a few other less prevalent things.
The second and perhaps more frequent reason for an improper
cure is poor mixing.
After you have gotten equal amounts of part "A" and part "B"
onto your mixing pallet, make sure to blend them together
well. I say mixing pallet because I find it easier to mix
epoxy on a flat surface as opposed to the little measuring
cups sold for the purpose.
Mix the material for the entire length of time specified
by your manufacturer on the label of the product.
Make doubly certain after carefully measuring your proportions
that you incorporate all of the material into the "mix." No
sense being extra careful measuring and then not using "all"
of the material. This is made much easier by the "pallet" approach.
Now that you have gotten everything mixed properly, and you
have with due care and diligence applied the material to your
creation, you are aghast to discover that in spite of your best,
most precise, and careful efforts, that your epoxy refuses to
dry beyond an irritatingly tacky state.
Well, don't panic, as I intimated earlier it happens to all of
us at one time or another, no matter how careful we think we
There are many wonderful products out there, which have
absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with fly tying, until
some resourceful individual finds a way to use them in
One of these is Sally Hanson's "Hard As Nails". This is a
clear compound sold to coat and repair women's finger nails.
It contains nylon, which is of no particular interest to us,
though I suppose on fingernails it is a desired additive.
(You can find it almost anywhere nail polish is sold.)
If however, we use the little brush which is conveniently
attached to the bottle cap to apply a thin coat of the material
to our previously applied epoxy head, it will dry, "Hard As
Nails," and forever repair our previously too tacky, to use, fly.
It also has uses in fly tying which are the subjects for other
tips in the future.
So, when your epoxy doesn't completely cure, don't worry,
apply, "Hard As Nails" and take it fishing.
Who knows the fish may even prefer the "polished" look of
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along,
most of this material has been stolen from somebody,
might as well steal your ideas too!
~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)