Help with epoxy [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Help with epoxy

02-25-2001, 01:21 PM

I tied up a bunch of mushmouth flies (p. 8 of the February/March 2001 Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine) this afternoon. They are easy flies to tie and they work really well when stripers are feeding on silversides, sand eels, bay anchovies and peanut bunker. They fly looks sort of like a juvie herring fly. Last year, I nailed a ton of schoolies at the end of the season on a single mushmouth. I am glad that I didn't lose it, it was the only one that I had.

Anyway, to finish this simple fly you stick on some eyes and put a coat of epoxy over the eyes. I am really not all that experienced at using epoxy. I can put it on pretty well but I have trouble keeping the epoxy from moving around before it sets. I am looking at 5 nice flies that look a little weird because the epoxy heads dripped into funny shapes before they dried. I am sure that the funny shaped heads will not keep fish from striking (they are not too funny looking) but I know that I can make them look better. On the last fly I kept moving it around (for 5 minutes) as the epoxy set. It looks great.

Short of buying an epoxy drying ferris wheel does anybody have a good tip or two that will keep the epoxy in a nice ball as it dries? I am going to use less epoxy in the meantime but any suggestions would help.

Thanks so much,


02-25-2001, 02:04 PM
You already have the answer, use just enough epoxy and keep moving it around until the epoxy sets. It's the only way. How you move it around is up to you. Personally, I have a rotary vice that I keep rotating until the epoxy sets. Or I put them on a motorized wheel to dry.


02-25-2001, 06:02 PM
I also took the motorized approach because I was unable to solve it otherwise... unless I spun it on my rotary vise for a few minutes.

A while back, there were several home made turning devices that were drastically less expensive than the shop model.

Sully and TomD are two 'inventors' I recall... if you do a search using this icon I think you might even find the posts:

I'll try myself a little later, gotta shut down the PC for now.

02-25-2001, 06:47 PM
After I'm done tying and the whip finish is complete, I'll prepare the first batch...not much more that a drop or two of each part and after the mix is done I'll add glitter/sparkle and apply it to the fly with a bodkin or tooth pick... I use my rotary vice to stay ahead of the moving ooze and the vise tilt angle to help keep the epoxy creeping to the desired shape until it sets (if things aren't going just right, fingers wet with spit can help coax the unset goo)... as the now firmed up first coat hardens, I'll add the eyes to the still tacky epoxy base and then mix up a clear thin second coat to finalize the shape and seal the eyes...
Hooked on epoxy but always striving to keep the fly head sleek and proportioned.
If the phone rings and I forget to tend to the unset epoxy head...Chernoble results are my just reward for inattention...not to mention a swell glob of goo on whatever happens to be under the errant fly...Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Bob Pink
02-25-2001, 06:53 PM
Another approach I use with epoxy heads is to start with a pair of 3-D molded eyes attached to the sides of the wraps (this only works when you are placing the eyes right behind the hook eye). Since the 3-d eyes already have a contour, I've learned to just place a dab of epoxy on the top and bottom where the gaps are between the outer diameters of the eyes. I want to avoid getting any epoxy on the outside of the eyes as that just dulls their appearance. This means the epoxy is less likely to 'run' around the head but it still adds strength the the head, seures the eyes and rounds out the cross section into a decent shape. BTW a bodkin makes a perfect applicator.
Another epoxy hint is ( if I remember this was from grego? ) is to use a bodkin to mix the resin and catalyst. It seems to trap much fewer air bubbles than my old DD coffee stirrers.

If you have an old rotisseri (sp) motor from a gas grill it makes a good starting point for a epoxy dryer. I found a 110v ac gear reduction motor at the Wilmington fly show two years ago for $ 20.00. Built a small wooden stand and added a foam covered wheel. Total investment about $ 25.00 and a couple of hours.

02-25-2001, 07:25 PM
Iuse my rotary vise and It make perfect round heads as long as you dab as you rotate.

Nathan Smith
02-25-2001, 10:59 PM
If you are going to use epoxy here is my 2 cents

1. Buy/ Make a motorized rotator. It is so worth the money and makes you flies look so much better
2. Don't use epoxy to make thick bodies. Use clear Acrylic to from the body then expoy over it.
3. Use 30 min epoxy as you last coat. It last twice as long and is twice as clear.
4. Make all you flies first, super glue on the eyes and coat with a layer of head cement, then epoxy.
5. Make sure you mix them right. If you don't they will be sticky

02-26-2001, 06:17 AM
I used to hate eopxy for the very reasons you described. Now I use it on everyhting (just ask the wife & kids).

1. With a soft bodied fly I either: (A) lay an initial base of softex where the eyes will go, working it into the body with my dubbing needle or (B) lay a small initial base of epoxy the same way

2. Start with a little, let it dry, you can always add more to the open gaps behind the eye with your needle.

3. It really is worthwhile to buy a rod turning motor. I think Smitty has them for under $20 + now you have a reason to build a rod.


02-26-2001, 06:49 AM
You guys are awesome.

I tied up some more flies last night and did some of my own experimenting. With this batch of flies I tied up 3 flies and then epoxied them all at the end of the tying session. The heads look much better because I gave each fly some good individual attention. As many of you suggested, I did benefit from the tactic of using less epoxy and using a few coats of epoxy to make the head.

All in all I can make nice looking heads if I spend 1/2 hour on each fly. I do not want to spend 1/2 hour on each fly so I will look for a motor at work today. If I can find any cheap motors on the open market I will leave a post here describing where to buy that motor.

Thanks again guys.


02-26-2001, 08:52 AM

You should get the necessary coverage with two coats of epoxy. When the second coat is dry, apply a coat of Sally Hansen clear Hard as Nails. This adds a real nice gloss to the exterior eliminates any tackiness that may remain on some of the epoxy.


02-26-2001, 09:14 AM
I've built a couple and have a little advise to offer on the motors used. Make certain that you get a motor rated for continuous duty. A lot of the motors that you can get cheap are for intermittant duty cycles and will heat up to ~ 160-180 degrees if left on for a couple of hours. I had to add a cooling fan to one that I built from scrounged parts to prevent burning it out.

Leaving the motor running for a long time allows you to use Flex Coat lite or a similar rod finishing epoxy to give you a really thin coat of epoxy. This takes two coats as the first coat soaks into the thread, while the second finishes it off. I only use this if I want a very small thread head.

02-26-2001, 09:15 AM
for what it's worth, I highly reccomend you out the 3-D eyes on with goop, and then use the technique Bob Pink suggested to just fill in the gaps and lock in the eyes. Otherwise, the really tend to fall of prematurely, and if you just use epoxy, they can crack off easily as well. The Goop seems to really set them in place...

02-26-2001, 09:41 AM
Here's one of the old threads talking about homemades...

<!--http--><a href="" target="_blank">CLICK HERE</a><!--url-->

Sully - if you need a place to post those images I will take care of it if you email them to me.

02-26-2001, 12:03 PM
&gt;&gt;I've built a couple and have a little advise to offer on the motors used. Make certain that you get a motor rated for continuous duty. A lot of the motors that you can get cheap are for intermittant duty cycles and will heat up to ~160-180 degrees if left on for a couple of hours. I had to add a cooling fan to one that I built from scrounged parts to prevent burning it out.&lt;&lt;


I just had an electric can-opener break. I was going to take it apart & use the motor to make a drying wheel. BUT as you indicated, I think that a can opener motor would be rated for intermittant duty? maybe I should look for another motor source? Thanks.

02-26-2001, 01:19 PM

Since the can opener is already broken, why not run it for an hour and see if it gets hot, or if you can smell the lubricant overheating? Having taken a lot of appliances apart, many have a fan for cooling and it may be ok. For the overheating, lacking a thermometer, I use a system of Mississippi's.

If I can hold my hand on it for:
4 Mississippi's or more - temperature ok,
3 Mississippi's temperature borderline
2 Mississippi's running hot
1 Mississippi- overheating,
If I can't hold my hand on it at all- shut down asap.

In the case of the motor I had to cool it was a one Mississippi with the stench of overheated oil, and is a 4 after using the fan. For me this was important because I like to epoxy late in the evening and let it run till the morning. With the over heating I faced 2 possibilities that I did not like. First, that the motor would burn out and stop, possibly ruining the finish on a batch of flies. Or that it would burn out and catch fire. I have a very bad history of letting out that mystical bit of smoke that all electronics run on by accident and don't want to do it while asleep.

In the better to be safe than sorry department. Test in a place away from combustibles, and make certain you don't have to reach over the can opener to unplug it.

02-26-2001, 01:41 PM
John, Good Idea(s), Will Do! GregO.

02-26-2001, 08:03 PM
FWIW, the motor on mine is made by:

Colman Motor Products Inc.
Darlington WI

Rated for 24 VDC which I power with a 20V 2.5A notebook AC adapter. It spins @ 14 RPM and doesn't even get warm. I think I jacked it out of an old printer.