How to Properly Dress a Dry Fly(Video)

How to Properly Dress a Dry Fly(Video)

May 22, 2014 1:02 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Keeping your dry fly floating properly and visible so you can see the fish take your fly when dry fly fishing on a tailwater river is critical to your success.  With the slough of floatants, waterproofing agents and dry agents, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which is the best for the type of dry fly pattern you are fishing.

This video covers how I prefer to treat my dry flies and what products I like to use depending on whether I am using a CDC dry fly pattern or a non-CDC dry fly – one tied with any other combination of materials. Here is a breakdown of the floatants that I prefer to use:

CDC Dry Flies – These require special attention since the structure of the material itself is what makes it float so well.  You want to make sure that you are enhance its natural desire to float rather than applying a substance that will actually make it sink.  Yes, CDC is a more sensitive material than others, but when treated right it is an amazing material that we could not live without on the Bighorn.

  • Duck Butt Fly Floatant is a premium dry fly desiccant that we bottle here in house.  This is the best substance to treat your CDC dry flies with. Hence, the name Duck Butt – where CDC(cul-de-cunard) feathers come from in the first place. I use this to pre treat my cdc flies and re conditioned them after catching a fish.
  • Amadou is a mushroom like fungus that grows on trees in Europe.  This drying agent that we import from France is a must have for when your fly is water logged or has fish slime on it. This fungus sucks the moisture out of the fly like nothing else.  Your fly will be as dry as when you picked it up out of the fly bin.  While it is pricier than other floatants, each patch will last you for several years. After I use the Amadou, I condition the fly with Duck Butt Floatant and then back to fishing.
  • Shimizaki Dry Magic or Loon Lochsa – These two liquid floatants are almost dry to the touch when you squeeze it out onto your finger, which makes it safe to use on CDC since it won’t matte the natural fibers or mush them together.
  • Trouthunter Natural CDC Fly Dressing – This is made from actual waterfowl preen oil and is used to rejuvenate the feathers and make them float better.
  • With the above floatants being the best for CDC flies I would not recommend using Flyagra, Aquel, Gink or any crystal based floatants as they will have an adverse effect.

Non CDC dry flies can represent a wide variety of of other dry fly wing materials, none of which are as complex to treat as CDC.  When using non-CDC flies a host of other floatants will work along with the ones mentioned above.

  • Flyagra – This liquid floatant is simple and easy to use because all you need to do is dunk your fly and start fishing. I tend to use Flyagra most often when fishing with hoppers or other large foam dry flies.
  • Aquel – This old standby still works well on a variety of dry fly imitation including parachutes, thorax duns and sparkle duns and at half the cost of loon lochsa or dry magic it is still a go to option if you understandably don’t want to pay twice as much for the other stuff.
  • Shimazaki Dry Shake – is the best all around floatant for non-CDC dry flies. I use before I fish a fly and after it’s wet. A must have in your boat or vest.


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This post was written by Bighornangler

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