How To Keep Dry Flies Floating

How To Keep Dry Flies Floating: 4 Great Tips

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If you are a fan of fly fishing, you may be familiar with dry flies. Dry flies are a type of fly fishing lure which are designed to float on the surface of the water, and they are technically designed to float on the surface, not to sink.

This is a good type of fly lure to go with for turbulent waters that will pull under other fly lures, plus it works well for shallow waters too. However, dry flies do still sink sometimes. Today we want to focus on how to keep dry flies floating, and to stop them from sinking.

Yes, there are some products, like floatant, which you can use to increase the buoyancy of your dry flies, as well as some other household products too. Moreover, the size, weight, and are of the dry fly will also influence how well it floats.

4 Tips To Keep Dry Flies Floating

Keep in mind that the material which they dry fly is made out of can also make a difference here. Let’s figure out how to keep those dry flies from sinking right now.

1. Use Floatant

Okay, yes, it’s a funny word, but the fact of the matter is that floatants are special products specifically designed to help dry flies stay afloat, and yes, they work really well.

If you go into your local fishing shop and ask for floatant, there are a few different brands to go with, but they are all some form of a gel-like substance.

This gel-like floatant is applied to dry flies and the gel is very buoyant and water repellent. If you get yourself some floatant, simply apply it to the dry fly right out of the box and it should do the trick.

If you are doing heavy fishing in turbulent waters, you may need to reapply it occasionally. Keep in mind that some are designed specifically for heat or cold, and some are designed for various other environmental factors too, so always be sure to read the label on the product you are getting.

2. Paraffin Wax & White Gas OR Lip Balm.

Now, this is a bit of a hack, because this is more or less creating your own floatant for dry flies from scratch, but the combination of white gas and paraffin wax does work quite well.

All you have to do here is to dissolve shavings of paraffin wax in white gas, and keep adding more paraffin wax, until you have a fairly thick gel-like substance.

You can then store this in a small bottle and apply it to your dry flies whenever you see fit. The fact of the matter here is that any oily and greasy substance which has the ability to float on the water makes for a good candidate to stop your dry flies from sinking.

You could also coat your dry fly in a layer of lip balm or even Vaseline too. All of these things will help to keep your dry flies afloat.

3. Size, Area, & Weight

Alright, so this is something you need to pay attention to when buying your dry fly. Technically speaking, this is not so much a way to keep your dry flies from sinking, but a way to ensure that it will float well right out of the box.

The point here is that basic physics do have a role to play when it comes to whether or not your dry flies will sink. Something that is heavy, dense, and has a small surface area is going to sink much faster than something that has a larger surface are compared to its weight.

Therefore, if you want to ensure that your dry fly has as much natural buoyancy as possible, you want to go with one that is comparatively large and wide for its weight.

This should help increase natural buoyancy and will help the dry fly float even without the application of floatants.

4. The Dry Fly Material

The other thing which you need to look out for when purchasing your dry fly, if you want to ensure maximum buoyancy, is to buy the flies made of the right materials.

Let’s quickly talk about the best dry fly materials out there, the ones which float the best.

  • One good option to go with is genetic hackle. These are special chicken feathers, ones that are stiff and closely packed together in order to be natural buoyant. This is a good option to keep in mind, especially when it comes to fly tying.
  • When it comes down to it, one of the best buoyant materials for tying dry flies is CDC, especially for smaller dry flies.
  • Another great option to help increase the floatability of your dry flies is foam rubber. If you are looking to tie your fly, foam rubber is one of the most buoyant things you can go with.
  • PolyPro Floating Yarn is another really good option to go with for fly tying, as it is also naturally buoyant.
  • The other option which many people choose to go with to tie their flies, which helps them float much better, is either deer or elk hair.


As you can see, putting a bit of melted paraffin wax or some professional floatant on your dry flies can definitely stop them from sinking. Keep in mind that their weight and size do play a role here as well.

The bottom line is that there are some steps you can take to stop your dry flies from sinking, but sometimes this is unavoidable, especially in really rough waters.

Image credit: Freyfisher [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons