So I had a conversation the other day in our local fly shop with a chap who complained that his floatant wasn't floating his dries. It turns out they floated fine at first, but once waterlogged / slimed he was applying a gel floatant to the fly expecting all to be well in the world.
It dawned on me that a lot of anglers don't understand the specifics of different powders, gels and surfactants, and their application so following is a practical rundown of the Loon accessories I carry in my vest.
Floatants and Desiccants
Aquel is a premium, all purpose floatant which waterproofs your fly. Simply squeeze a tiny amount onto your finger tip and work through the hackle, wings and tail of your fly.
Lochsa is a premium gel floatant which works well on all flies and materials including cdc. It won't gunk finer hackles or mat hair wings like other gels.
Both Aquel and Lochsa are temperature stable (ie, wont liquify and empty the entire bottle in one squeeze on hot days) and being silicone based will not leave an oily slick on the water around your fly.
Top Ride is a general purpose dry fly powder floatant / desiccent which both sucks moisture from waterlogged or slimed flies and indicators. The wide mouth on the pottle makes it easy to drop larger flies in and simply shake them dry.
Loon Dust offers finer particles with an easy use applicator brush. Dust works great on smaller flies and is essential for cdc patterns. The brush allows you to coat specific parts of your fly allowing you to dry the wing on your wee emergers whilst the body remains within the surface.
So the idea is to pre treat your flies with floatant. After removing them from the fish's mouth, or the fly becoming waterlogged simply treat them in the powder to dry them, then reapply floatant. Gel keeps water out, but will also seal water in to your fly, so should never be applied to wet, or damp flies. This is why a good gel floatant, and powder dessicant should be used as a team to ensure long lasting, high floating dries.
Other handy accessories:
Deep Soft Weight tungsten putty. I tie a lot of my flies lightly weighted due to the shallow edgewaters we often find our trout in, but sometimes we need more depth. The benefit of Deep Soft Weight is you can add varying amounts according to how much weight you wish to add to the fly. Simply roll it between your fingers to soften, apply it to your tippet then dip it in the river to solidify. To remove, simply peel it off and place back in the container to reuse later. A lot more tippet friendly, and environmentally friendly than applying splitshot.
Henrys Sinket and Snake River Mud are both surfactants: they help your flies / leader to break through the surface tension. I apply Henrys Sinket to unweighted / lightly weighted nymphs to ensure they make it through the surface film to where I want them, and not float. Snake River Mud is applied to the tippet / leader to help this break through the surface when fishing dries, or aforementioned unweighted nymphs. Another benefit of Mud is that it removes the shine from your tippet, important when fishing the film on bright days.
Bio Strike indicator putty. On windy days where yarn type indicators become troublesome to cast I go to Bio Strike. Being a putty, more dense than yarn and shaped to be more streamlined on the leader it simply turns over better. Where Bio Strike comes into its own however is when fishing tiny film flies that are often hard to see on the water. A tiny smear / ball of Bio Strike a foot or so out from the fly allows you to keep track of your tough to see emerger or spinner pattern and convert more strikes.
So consider the practicality of the above and keep them in your vest. Its the little things that work together to help you catch more fish.