I get a lot of funny looks at that doo-rag I have hanging off my chest waders. Do you use that thing to blow your nose? Nah. Maybe it’s a prop. Or you clean your shades with it? Wrong again. It’s a dry fly squeezer. Dries get wet…and on the Madison they get soggy pretty quickly. Especially if they are being slapped and thrashed and beaten into water on every other cast. They often come back looking like a drowned rat. False casting works except when the fly hits the oar or the boat or a scrub willow on the back cast and then it’s gone forever. “Better bring that in here and let me have a look”.
Most of the dry fly floatants out there work fine. But they all have one thing in common. They won’t work if the fly is soaked. The powders work great but I skip that step and just squeeze the fly in the bandanna-doily that’s hanging right there on my chest and get it nice and dry before I dress it. Squeeze and blow…primp it and fluff it…dress it up and get back out there.
I use Mucilin. I know what you’re thinking…that stuff is outdated and useless. Not so fast. If you get your fly nice and dry and work the Mucilin into the fly with your fingers nothing works better. It offers a thin, paste wax film that keeps the fly afloat longer than most. I do use Gink sometimes, but have anger issues working on that squeeze bottle!
If you want to dig deeper into dry fly floatant and the various brands available, I have found a useful video on YouTube from Charlie Craven here: Charlie Craven Talks Floatant (youtube.com)
If you tie flies and you are interested in becoming a better tyer I highly recommend Charlie Craven. He is a long-time commercial tyer and offers tons of slick tips to help you tie flies the correct way…with proportion and balance and profile.
Have fun out there. RB