Fly Fishing Floatants Explained

Choosing the right fly fishing floatant can be confusing- each has a different property and best way to use them. In this blog post we take a look at the various fly fishing floatants available. Float your flies right and catch more fish!

Fly fishing Floatant's and dry flies

Fly fishing Floatant and dry flies.

What are floatants?

Fly fishing floatant’s are designed to keep your dry flies, leader and sometimes fly line high floating and buoyant. Chemically a lot of fly fishing floatants are essentially the same thing – silicone with petroleum jelly and a few other additives. However not all are equal, and some need to used in different ways; so you can easily end up buying the wrong one! To make things easier, we have reviewed the entire range of fly fishing floatants available from the Fishtec tackle shop.

GHERKS GINK £5.99

Starting with a world wide favourite, Gink has been an anglers choice since the 1960’s.

Gherkes Gink

Gherkes Gink.

Probably the most popular formula, and is our best selling floatant by a mile. It works well and keeps flies floating high. Gink is a gel that you have to warm up in cold weather between your fingers, or in hot weather can liquefy leading you to making a mess out of your flies, fingers and vest. Rarely do we have a ‘perfect’ temperature for Gink in the UK, and to be honest this makes it a bit of a pain to get out of the bottle especially when there isn’t much left in there. If you apply too much It can leave a little oil slick around the fly which could potentially spook fish. This slick usually goes after a cast or two.

AIRFLO FLOAT JELLY £3.99

Airflo’s float jelly is an alternative to Gink. The formula is pretty much the same, but with a few extra ‘secret’ additives.
Airflo float jellyThe ‘flip up’ application nozzle is much easier to use, allowing you to apply a smaller more controlled amount of the floatant to your finger tip. It feels smoother and a little thicker than Gink. The ‘oil slick’ residue it leaves around the fly was noticeably less than Gink in our tests. Float Jelly viscosity does suffer from temperature influences, but due to the nozzle design it is far harder to squeeze out too much by mistake.

MUCILIN GREEN £1.89

Mucilin has been around for decades. It’s a fairly thick silicone paste. It isn’t the greatest for tiny dry flies with delicate fibers, and leaves quite a greasy slick if you apply too much.

mucilin green floatant

Mucilin green floatant.

Mucilin Green works better on bigger attractor dries like daddies, hoppers and sedge’s. The positives are it’s dirt cheap, your flies will float very well, and because it is so thick it works great for keeping your fly line tip high floating as a line dressing should the need arise. The simple tub design means you can never squeeze out unwanted surplus by accident and make a mess.

WATERSHED £4.99

Watershed is actually a liquid designed to be used on flies at least 24 hours prior to fishing.

Watershed fly floatant

Watershed fly floatant.

Don’t make the mistake of buying watershed and then applying whilst on the water – you will leave a vast slick around the fly and it will not float well at all! Pre-treated flies (once dried out well) will float like corks. Worth keeping a bottle on your fly-tying desk and applying on new flies fresh from the vice.

AIRFLO REPEL £4.99

This is a silicon based liquid spray. Like watershed you use it to treat your flies before use. Spray on and allow the flies to dry out fully before hitting the water. This stuff is very effective, and the manual application spray pump is efficient and environmentally friendly.

Airflo repel spray

Airflo repel spray.

LEEDA DRY FLY SPRAY £4.99

This stuff has been around for years and it certainly works very well. It will dry out quickly once applied, even on the bank.

Leeda dry fly spray

Leeda dry fly spray.

Follow what it says on the tin – one spray and your fly will float. A downside is unlike gels you cannot easily apply to specific areas of the fly, for example emerger wings. It is also easy to over-do the spraying, and get it on your leader accidentally as well. The fact it’s in an aerosol tin means you have no way of telling how much you have left.

MUCILIN HOURGLASS FLOATANT £1.99

This stuff is pure liquid silicone oil. Drop you fly in the chamber and immerse. Can be a bit awkward on the bank, and your fly will be flooded with the stuff so false cast or blow most of it off afterwards or you get a huge slick. Positives are it’s cheap, and works well, even more so as a pre-fishing treatment – dunk and dry your flies in advance..

Mucilin silicone oil

Mucilin silicone oil.

MUCILIN RED £1.69

The Mucilin red formula is really best suited for fly lines and leaders, rather than flies. It’s extremely sticky, tacky formula is only really any good for very large patterns, like wake lures for sea trout, bombers or big deer hair sedge’s. Great if your floating fly line is sinking though!

Red mucilin

Red mucilin

AIRFLO RESTORE £2.99

Restore is a desiccant treatment, it is used to suck up the moisture from a waterlogged fly. Very useful if you have only one fly that works left that keeps on getting hammered! Simply dip and shake the fly in the powder, and all the moisture suck will be sucked out. It uses a mixture of silica crystals and with Teflon additives to repel water.

Airflo restore

Airflo restore.