Using UV Clear Coats

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Photos by Bob Reece

Photos by Bob Reece

By Bob Reece

UV clear coats are a relatively new addition to the family of fly tying materials.

Several brands have appeared on the market over the past few years. Within these brands there are several varieties with regard to the viscosity of the liquid and its finished state. This spectrum of options has expanded the possibilities for applications.

FlyFusion4-(1)Looking at the desired outcome should be the starting point for choosing the appropriate UV material. If your goal is to create a thin protective barrier, UV materials with the lowest possible viscosity are ideal. These runnier variations allow for a sparse application, while still adding an element of protection and sheen. In addition, they are ideal for sealing eyes into pre-made heads for streamer patterns.

When looking to build a more substantial profile or complete three dimensional shape, the higher viscosity the better. These thicker versions of UV materials are ideal for enhancing wing buds on nymph patterns, creating eyes on terrestrials or acting as the main ingredients in egg patterns. Their highly viscous makeup allows them to temporarily hold their shape during the brief intermission between application and exposure to UV light.

Most recently, a flexible UV coat has made its way onto the market.

This branch of the product provides durable overcoat along with a slight range of flexibility once it has been cured. If a tyer prefers to create their own heads on streamer patterns, this pliable coating is well suited for the task. It’s also ideal for coating the bottom of foam terrestrials. This additional covering flexes with the foam body while preventing tears in the material’s surface.

The other bookend in this creative process is the curing agent. In this case, UV light is used to initiate the chemical reaction that transforms the liquid into a solid. For this job it is essential to use a tool that produces UV light at a high intensity. Low intensity UV lights take longer and can completely fail to cure the coating. The UV torch that I use produces its light at 395 nanometers and completely cures any of my clear coats in a few seconds.

If you’ve never used UV coatings, give them a try. Put some purposeful thought into their applications and your desired outcomes prior to purchasing. With a competent curing light and a dose of creativity, the inventive potential of these products is limitless.

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Bob Reece
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Using UV Clear Coats

  1. is the flexible uv coating biodegradable? In Maine we are currently having problems with soft plastic baits ingested by gamefish that stay in the fish to their detriment.

  2. I’m struggling w/the internet tonight, it seems. Sorry for any duplicate posts… blame the Laphroaig. Thanks for the article — it’s a good write-up. I’ve had the same problems with low-intensity lights. Do you recommend any particular models?

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