In a recent blog, https://theenigmaticangler.com/2012/03/12/secret-squirrel/ , I was asked how I finished the head of a waddington with such a bright colour? Much has been written about daylight fluorescent materials (DFM) and I’ll try not to repeat any of that here; I’ll leave you to do your own research via the internet. However, it’s very simple really and is all to do with the base colour or undercoat.
Many of us just use one or two colours of tying silk to tie all our flies. The predominant colour is black. This suffices for 90% of our tying and moreover, makes it much simpler because we only have to pick up the same bobbin holder each time to tie a different fly. Black as a colour however, has one big draw back; it absorbs light of all wavelengths and reflects nothing back; that’s why it’s black! This doesn’t do anything for us if we start to use bright colours or even modern plastic coated tinsel.
One of the many DFM colours I use and the one used for the SBS Waddington is Glo Brite No.4:
There are many other colours in the range. It just so happens that this was to hand to illustrate the point I’m trying to make.
So how does changing the colour of tying silk affect how our fly looks? Well essentially, some of the light penetrates the material that we use and then get’s reflected back from materials underneath to enhance the colour. In the case of black tying silk, this doesn’t happen. Any light that penetrates that far gets absorbed and none gets reflected. This then dulls the material we’ve used as a topcoat.
To illustrate the point and something I mentioned about modern tinsel, I tied two waddington shanks, one with black tying silk, the other with white tying silk:
Both waddingtons have bodies made of pearl mylar. The waddington on the left was tied using black tying silk and the one on the right using white tying silk. I’m sure from just looking at the picture, you can see the point I’m trying to make about the base coat and reflected light. The waddington on the right looks as if pearl mylar was used. The waddington on the left looks like green mylar has been used but I can assure you, it’s all down to the base coat of black tying silk.
Taken further, I just added a wing of black squirrel tail and finished them off using the same colour of tying silk as I used for the body:
Already, you can just see how the reflected light has changed the body colour on the waddington on the right to a green hue.
If I then finish the heads off with a layer of Glo Brite No.4:
The effect of the use of white tying silk can now be seen which gives the fly a much brighter body and a brighter head.
For reference, in the photo above, I have left a collar of the colour of the tying silk so that you can see how it affects the brightness of the floss. So, there you have it. How do you make bright heads on flies when using DFM floss? Use white tying silk!
It’s nothing new and is standard practice in the decorating trade. It’s used on floats used in coarse fishing to get bright tips and is discussed at length when tying a very successful salmon fly devised by former Trout and Salmon editor Sandy Leventon, The Editor.I think it’s good practice to get into using tying silk the same shade or colour as the body you’re tying and will complement your fly. You’ll see a difference in the colour and brightness possibly making them more effective.
The one thing that I haven’t mentioned though is light. To make colours work, you need white light. Whether that’s from the sun or some artificial source, it doesn’t matter. Without light, colours aren’t activated; all you get is shades of grey and black. So why then, if I fish for seatrout at night when the sun is below the horizon and there are no sources of artificial light, have I used a bright colour for the head of a Seatrout Fly? Why use different colours at all? It’s a question that many anglers have tried to address and arguments have come and gone. Scientifically, the arguments are correct. With no light, you’ll only get shades of grey or black. However, from a psychological point of view, do the colours give us confidence? If we have more confidence in a fly because it looks good will we fish it more effectively? Something to ponder on I suppose. If I ever meet a talking fish perhaps I’ll get a first hand point of view.