Being a fly tying centric shop, we sell lots of products that serve many different fly tying fanatics and fly fishing nerds. Loon products have become one of our most popular lines of products, most specifically, their line of UV adhesives. When our customers are looking at diving into the world of UV cured adhesives, there are a few things they need to know.
Alongside knowing exactly what each product in the line does, it is important to understand a firm, non negotiable side of the deal - any UV product, in excess, will look bad. So much of fly tying these days has become excessive, and keeping your UV under control, in a tasteful way, will make it enhance the function and form of your fly. However, when used out of moderation, it can look and act disastrous!
Taking a look at each product, there are a few things that separate each bottle from another, and figuring out what you are trying to accomplish is the first step of choosing the right UV. The three lines of UV products have different viscosities, or ranging levels of thickness. In other words - how easy the material, or glue, sinks in, or builds up around the head of a fly. Each product has a place on my tying bench, and some are better for the flies I like to tie down here in the Keys. The most important part of applying the UV is how they interact with the materials you have already placed on the hook, because for the most part, the UV will be put on after the tying portion of the fly is completed, whip finished, and hung out to dry, so to speak.
Thick - Great for the tyer who wants to build up bulk on the underbelly of a crab fly, or make a larger head that pushes water on the front end of the fly. This product is not the most popular in the UV line, because the thinner viscous UV's are great for finishing, and flies that guides and anglers tie in the Keys are traditionally not large, and are not meant to be used to create bulk. Use this UV Thick for bigger flies and in the offshore world and the places where bulk is appreciated. I have often used this product when finishing a merkin style crab, and putting a dot of the glue on the under side of the crab for an additional durability, both for the thread wraps underneath the body, rubber leg placement, and weight distribution. Additionally, if keeping the legs on your Strong Arm Merkins (Dave Skok) perfectly out the side of the fly is important, then you can use a dot on the side of your rug yarn, or EP Fibers, to keep them in place. If you are looking for some help when your fly is trying to flip over, this would be the best route to go, as the UV Thick is quite heavy, and will help a light fly turn over when it is first put in the water.
Thin - If you like to be somewhere in the middle, this is the product for you. With a consistency that flows more freely, it has the stiffness that will provide bulk, still, in any application. I like to use the thin for crab bodies, and when I want a stiff, strong crab claw, I use this product to sink into the material of the chenille but still provide bulk. This product is another great way to get into tying with UV - if you are not exactly sure what you will be using it for, but just want to try it out, give this a go. There are lots that these products can be used for, but just remember that any application in excess can look poor, and its performance can be altered negatively by the excessive use of UV.
Flow - My personal favorite for finishing heads on tarpon flies and over dumbbell eyes, because it has an even runnier consistency than water. You barely realize it is on your fly, but hardens all the same as the other two. Having a thinner presence on my fly is what I want as a fly tyer, because the fish that will inspect the fly I am tying are the pickiest of the bunch. With great certainty, I have not seen many of the flies I tie, even after several fish caught on them, end in cracked UV, particularly from the UV Flow. I use this the most because it is subtle, and I love to keep things in my flies on the lowkey side of things.
One miscellaneous note on the Flow - because the flow is almost a drippy consistency, there is little bulk, and the fly is secure and durable enough to fish for a very long time, but does not look like you gobbed on a bunch of product to make it look a certain way. This viscosity is the one I find myself reaching for most, and in the scenario where I have to take one out of the three with me, I would choose this, as it has a wide range of uses throughout the line.
When we think about normal adhesives and the way that they react to the fish we throw them at, smell often comes into play in a large way. Super glue, head cement, and other traditional adhesives that can be purchased at the pharmacy or hardware store often smell, are hard to adhere, and the bottle gets clogged up after usage. The curing process that UV products go through is simple - they cannot dry with air, but with UV. When I forget my UV light somewhere, I will often lay my flies out in the sun, and they cure the same, if not better. Using one of many Loon UV lights, you can cure your adhesives within seconds, and they are fishable quickly after finishing them, which is a development that is really impressive. On the topic of smell, I know that there are some highly toxic glues and head cements out there, and eliminating that worry is something I pay close attention to. Permit, especially, have large nasal cavities, and can smell good (live crabs) and bad scents (glue, humans, etc.) from a mile away.
Using Loon products, I have yet to find them to smell potent after the curing process. My UV curing light of choice is the UV Infiniti Light, because it can be recharged, and provides a strong light for a long time.
The best part about fly tying materials these days, is that there is a color and consistency for every single application we might need. For adding hotspots to crab and shrimp flies, I like using the Hot Orange UV, because it provides a highly important contrast to our flies that we rarely think about, until we realize how effective and important it really is.
The advent of the egg sack in our shrimp flies is so vital to the presentation, as it acts not only as a trigger for bonefish and permit, but it looks damn good to the person tying, or buying the fly - which is just as important!