Streamside | DIY Shake Fly Floatant via Living Fly Legacy

by | May 8, 2017 | 5 comments

A few years ago I took a chance and bought thirty-two ounces of powdered, fumed silica from an ebay seller.

“What the hell is that?” You might ask.

It’s the fine, white powder used for drying flies and keeping them riding high on the surface. The ebay listing came with an assurance that the stuff was just like the Frog’s Fanny we buy in fly shops. It was. And it still is. Even after gifting many of my friends with small bags of the magic powder, and re-filling my own bottle countless times, I still have half the quart left.

Each season I end up losing the bottle somewhere on the river or in transit, so I go to my fly shop and buy another bottle of Frog’s Fanny that I refill with the quart when it’s empty. Sure, I could probably find a ten-pack of empty bottles with little brushes on the caps real cheap on ebay too. But I feel like I better pay it forward once in a while to the fly shops and the people who came up with the idea in the first place. So yeah, I’m cheap, but not that cheap.

Chris Cutler writes the blog, Living Fly Legacy, and it’s one of my favorites for a lot of reasons. I like that Chris night fishes, and he thinks outside the box. I particularly like his point that night fishing with mice is a sham (check that one out). But I digress. I like Chris’s creativity and his do-it-yourself independence.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that Chris had also bought way too much white powder in a bulk container. But he took it a step further. In his latest blog post, Chris details how to make your own little shaky dry fly bottle with all the powder and pebble pieces needed to suck your flies dry and get back to fishing the surface. Nice.

Here’s the article link.

Open container — insert damp fly here. And the DIY holster. — Photos from Chris Cutler

And here are some excerpts:

… The material is called fumed silica. It is a common additive in epoxies as a thickening agent. It is remarkably hydrophobic.

… The next thing you will need is some Silica Gel (balls). This is usually easy to come by if you know where to look.

… The last thing you need is some type of container. I chose an old film canister. It was the perfect size.

In characteristic form, Chris lays out the whole thing and makes it easy to do-it-yourself too. Good stuff.

Thanks, Chris.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. There are many varieties of fumed silica. I did a bunch of research a few years ago and found what I believe to be the best formulation (Cab-o-Sil TS-270) for our needs. And I found it availble for $10/qt plus shipping here:

  2. Doh: Can-O-Sil TS-720. I mistyped in the above comment.

    • Thanks for the reference, Mark! I have another friend who is particular about the type as well. I only bought the stuff once, and I must have gotten lucky. Thanks for sharing your research. Very helpful to everyone.

  3. Not all fumed silica will work. There are two common kinds hydrophilic and hydrophobic. There are several brands out there the most common is CAB-O-SIL the standard M5 grade is hydrophilic you need the TS-720 which is hydrophobic. The hydrophilic powder will make a paste that just doesn’t work well. You can find the hydrophobic powder for about $30 a lb, or a gallon jug. That will fill more than 50 of the dry shake bottles from Loon or Orvis. If you are lucky enough to have an unlimited supply of the silica gel packs you can make your own floatant for almost nothing. I asked a young lady at a shoe store to save a small pile of the gel packs for me, in one week I had a coffee can full which again is enough for 3 lifetimes of floatant. I give them away to friends and I have a handful in my truck that I give to newbies. I could probably sell them but I don’t. Tight lines all!

  4. Cal; Enjoyed your comment but are you saying the silica jel packets make good floatant ?? Do you crush the particals or what ? Very interested .

    Another thought or question, can I possibly use diametric earth, I use it in my chicken coop for mite control and it is very powdery?/


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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