Fly Floatant

Ever have trouble keeping you flies afloat?  Most fly floatants are not very effective and have to be reapplied frequently.  Many are messy to use and get all over your fingers and gear.

I have used Fly-agra.  Dip your flies in Fly-agra after tying and allow them to dry.  It seems to work well, but it does take a long time for the fly to dry.

Recently I was reading Fran Betters’ Fly Fishing-Fly Tying and Pattern Guide which was published in 1982, when I came across this on page 42.  Mr. Betters was talking about fly dressings and stated that, “the best types are those made from ordinary unleaded gas (white gas) and dissolved paraffin wax.  …the natural fur bodies are permeated and sealed and will produce the best floating flies.”

flotant So I tried it.  I took a block of paraffin and shaved the block into a pint jar.  Afterwards, I filled the jar  with white gas.  I used Gulf Wax purchased at the grocery store and Coleman brand white gas.  Not all of the paraffin dissolved but the gas became saturated while the undissolved paraffin settled to the bottom of the jar.  I tied a fur body red ant.  After the paraffin settled, I dipped the ant into  the top layer of white gas and then allowed it to dry.  I placed the ant in a glass of water last night and it was still floating high and dry this morning 12 hours later.  There was no wax feeling to the fly.

As you use the floatant up, simply add more white gas.  As long as there is some undissolved paraffin in the bottom of the jar, the upper layer will be fully saturated.  In the picture of floatant, note the pink color.  This is due to a dye in the type of Coleman gas I used.  In the future, I will use the white gas in a can which is clear.  The color did not stain the fly as far as I could tell.

If you decide to try this, remember that white gas is extremely flammable.  Do not use it around open flames and use in a well ventilated area.  Let me know how it works for you.  Email me at

Here is the Red Ant I tied and treated. >>ML

Fire Ant