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Top Fly Fishing Floatants

Top Fly Fishing Floatants

Here at Big Y Fly Co, we love dry fly fishing, and the fishing is hot!  We need to keep our flies high and dry and there are a ton of options.  Here are our top floatants for dry fly fishing:

All-Purpose Liquid/Gel Trout Floatants

Aquel is the top seller
For our every day application, anglers worldwide prefer a liquid or gel based floatant.  From big stimulators to small tricos, a liquid floatant will work for most anglers most of the time.  Here are our favorites.   

Loon Aquel -  This is our best selling floatant, and there is a solid reason.  It lasts a good while, has good consistency and is well-known.  The guys that love, love, love Aquel will tell you that it leaves less of an oily sheen on the water and that it dries into the fly quicker than the competition.

Gink -  Still there, after what seems like centuries.  It doesn't need improvement because it is a good product.  It is the gold standard for every day dry fly fishing.
Orvis Hy-Flote Gel - This liquid floatant is eerily similar to Aquel.  Some will tell you that it handles a wider temperature range, but then again, some would say that it is Aquel with a different label.  Either way, you know it's good stuff when you see the Orvis label.
Umpqua Bug Flote - This is a basic floatant, much like Gink.  It is more liquid than a gel.  Good for coating indicators, big dry flies and anything else.  
Umpqua Bug Butter - This is more of a gel than a liquid.  It doesn't melt and ooze all over when it gets hot.  One little dab will go a long ways.  This is a little thicker than Aquel, but pretty similar. 

Loon Lochsa -  This is a premium liquid floatant that works on CDC.  The silicon-based floatant is more of a powdery gel that leaves everything from CDC flies to yarn indicators floating high and dry.  This floatant is absolutely great for just about everything.  It is our hands-down recommendation if you are looking to buy a premium floatant. 

Loon Royal Gel - A nice silicon based floatant that adds a little shimmer to your flies.  It works great as a floatant, but it works really, really well when you are fishing spinners and need that wing to get that little iridescent shine to it.
Tiemco Dry Gel - Another great floatant that will do everything.  This premium floatant claims that you can use it in winter or summer without any frustration.  It is supposed to work well on CDC flies and other delicate, small patterns that can otherwise become compromised with other floatants.  A disclaimer is that we have not seen this floatant yet.  It has been backordered since we started carrying it.  But I have been around long enough to know that Tiemco puts out some really nice products, and if they say this is the bomb, then it is the bomb. 

Floatants for Emergers

Frog's Fanny is a classic
Emergers and Klinkhammers work really, really well.  But you have to set up the floatant just right.  The back part of these flies needs to hang down into the water, so you need to only get floatant on part of the fly.  Using a powder with a brush is the key to success when dealing with emergers and klinkhammers.   These floatants also work very well on CDC flies.

Frog's Fanny - Brush it on and throw it out there.  This stuff is like magic.  It coats on like liquid, but it appears to be a powder.  You can easily coat part of a fly, intricately putting just the right amount of floatant on the parachute post, but leaving the back of the fly untreated to hang in the surface film just right.

Loon Dust - This is very similar to Frog's Fanny.  I think it has a little more of a shimmery look to it if it were to be used on a subsurface fly or on the wings of a spinner for example.  Coating a beadhead is a well-known secret for adding a little spice to your nymph.
Orvis Hy-Flote Powder Dust - This is similar to the Loon Dust.  It is a great tool to have in the arsenal.  
Tiemco Shimazaki Dry Shake - The original dry fly powder floatant.  This stuff is as good as it gets.  There are tons of varieties of this stuff, including the original, a dun color version, a spray-on version and a liquid version.  All of them are top-notch.  I like the original the best, but the liquid is a great option for standard dry flies and the spray is a good idea if you want to treat a dozen flies or so at the onset of a day of fishing.  Just adds a little extra to those dries. 

Floatant for CDC Flies

If you fish CDC flies, you may be painfully aware that most liquid floatant will ruin your flies.  Here are the top options for CDC flies:

Top Ride is best seller
Loon Blue Ribbon - This is the guide's choice for CDC flies.  It leaves little to no sheen on the water or the fly itself.  This is a pure floatant powder with nothing extra.  Drop the fly with tippet attached into the jar, close the lid and shake it a few times.  It will come out with an invisible coating that does an excellent job, and does not change the look or structure of the fly. 

Loon Top Ride -  Top Ride is very similar to Blue Ribbon, but it also includes a desiccant, which helps dry out a wet fly that has been swimming in a trout's mouth repeatedly.  The secret sauce combination is to use this before adding a liquid floatant. This is great on just about all dry fly pattern and is very popular.
Orvis Shake 'n Flote Renew - This product is quite similar to Loon's Top Ride.  It has a dessicant that dries out wet flies as well as a powdered floatant.  Just put the fly in (after you tie it to the tippet), close the lid and shake.  It will dry out wet ones as well as give new flies the float they need to stay up. 

Others that work well on CDC; these are covered in the previous section
Frog's Fanny
Loon Dust
Loon Lochsa
Orvis Hy-Flote Powder Dust 
Tiemco Shimazaki Dry Shake


Treating your flies before you go fishing is a great idea.  Few of us ever remember to do it, but it helps tremendously if you can remember to use it at least 24 hours in advance.  If you are constantly changing flies, you could easily not have to use any floatant during a day of fishing.  Here are several options for treating your flies ahead of time. 

Mucilin is effective and not too messy
Loon Fly Dip - This is a dual purpose floatant that can be used as a pre-treatment.  It also is great at drying and treating flies while on the river.  It is similar to those other unnamed floatants that smell like gasoline, but without the potential for fires in your drift boat (at least from the floatant catching on fire).  

Liquid Silicon Mucilin -  A classic.  Anglers have been using this to treat flies for years.  I have used it quite a few times.  I found that like with Hydrostop, I could often get an hour into the day before applying a different floatant.  

Water Shed -  Another good choice for treating flies at home.  This is from Hareline, and many fine tiers like to add a drop or two of this to their dubbing to give it an extra punch. 
Tiemco Shimizaki Dry Shake Spray - This spray is great!  It will let your dry flies ride high on the water with little effort.  You can spray them individually or just give a spritz to a box or cup full of flies.  it is not as permanent as something like WaterShed, but it gets them ready to fish right out of the box  


Desiccants can be used to dry out flies, so that you can re-apply a floatant to them.  They are great if you are using flies that get waterlogged easily.  Some dubbing soaks up water really easily, ad this is a great way to get those things as dry as when you started the day.  Just throw the fly in (tippet still attached) and shake.  Then add your favorite floatant and catch another trout or six.

Loon Easy Dry -  The hands-down top choice for desiccants.  It has little indicator crystals in it which change color when it is ready for a new bottle.  It dries flies out just fine.   

Loon Top Ride - See the description a few sections above.  This has desiccant with floatant and is very popular.

Orvis Shake 'n Flote Renew - This product is quite similar to Loon's Top Ride.  See above for more on that as well.


The original.
Pastes are great for foam flies and hairy bass bugs, as well as coating the tip of your line and your leader.  Foam flies will ride high in the choppiest water and hairy bass bugs will not get waterlogged if properly treated.  Smaller flies can take some paste. 

Loon Payette Paste -  The next get of pastes.  It doesn't melt or get too hard.  It keeps its consistency well.  It is good for all of the things a paste does well, lines, leaders, big bugs. 

Silione Mucilin -  I have used more of this than I care to think about.  Most of it ended up melted onto the bench and floor of my boat on a hot day.  But it doesn't always melt into a puddle; in the winter it becomes rock hard.  There is a week or two in the spring and fall time though when it is perfect.  Otherwise, if you can get some onto your line, leader and fly, it really keeps those foam bugs and deer hair poppers on the surface.

Mucilin -  This is the original floatant for dressing old fly lines.  It works really well for big hairy bass poppers.  Most still use it as a line dressing. 

As always, please let us know if you have any questions!  Good luck on the water.

Andrew Perrault
-Fishing, usually not catching

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