Gear Tip — Keep the rust away, and keep beads shiny with silica gel

by | Nov 29, 2017 | 2 comments

Editor’s Note: This is one of the first tips I wrote for Troutbitten, back in 2014. I’ve rewritten it here, with new info, because all things change, and in this case, improve.

For the fisherman, keeping gear dry is an unremitting chore. Hang the waders, wash the clothes and dry the pack — the bottom of which dipped in the water again during a deep water crossing. It’s fishing. And it’s a river. So getting things wet is part of it all. Rain complicates the matter, of course, and at the end of a good soaking, I come home and dry every piece of gear in my vest, laying out the boxes, spools and various containers in front of a heat run or dehumidifier before hanging up my wet rain gear.

(Never store your flies wet)
READ: Troutbitten | The C&F Chest Patch/Box, the gift any trout-chasing fly fisher will love

Importantly, I open my fly boxes to dry by the heat run as well. I’ve rarely had enough unattended moisture to rust the hooks, but it has happened from time to time. More troublesome though, are the beadheads in my nymph box. When they tarnish and forfeit their characteristic shine, I lose confidence in those patterns. Sure, sometimes a dull bead fools more fish, but most often, I want the beads looking as fresh as the day I tied the fly. So protecting that shine (and keeping away rust) isn’t just something for rainy days. Trapped moisture destroys flies on all days, in all seasons.

There’s an easy, cheap, DIY solution to all this. Silica gel.

The Stuff

Silica gel is the pellet-form desiccant found in the packaging of electronics, medicine bottles, luggage, camera bags, etc., where they absorb moisture and limit corrosion. It’s a perfect fit for a fly box.

I usually round up silica gel packs from vitamin bottles and various packaged electronics, but they are cheaply purchased online as well. I store the extra silica gel packs in an airtight container until needed.

(Most of the go-to flies in my nymph box have a bead)
READ: Troutbitten | Beads are the Best

The Box

Airtight and watertight. That’s the best way to store any and all flies with beadheads. I use waterproof boxes to lock out extra moisture, eliminating most issues with rain, river fall-ins or excess humidity.

But remember, while waterproof fly boxes keep moisture out, they also keep it in. Whatever humidity conditions are present when the box is closed will stay that way until opened. It’s a sealed environment in there. And even on a dry, sunny day, while standing mid-river to change a fly, some unnoticed water splashes or drops of sweat may drip into the box. If that’s sealed away for just a day or two, you may later open the box to find beads that have lost their luster, or worse yet, rusty hooks.

Tape and Silica

I used to toss a small silica gel pack in my fly box and just let it bounce around. That was okay. I was careful how I opened the box, and I rarely lost it. Then I started using a fly to pin the silica gel pack to the foam. That worked too. But the cleanest method is to simply tape the silica gel pack to the inside of your fly box. I use athletic tape because it’s breathable and the adhesive is waterproof.

Some silica gel changes color as it absorbs moisture, but the packs I use rarely do. So I swap out the silica gel pack for a new one every couple times that I restock my fly box at the tying desk.

It’s possible to rejuvenate silica gel packs by drying them in the oven or microwave. Google it. I rarely go that route because I seem to find enough fresh packs to have an unlimited supply.

The important thing is that I have no trouble with rusted hooks or tarnishing beads. The flies I tie look good and stay that way until mangled by a fish or sacrificed to a tree limb.

Oh, and don’t eat the stuff, right?

Fish hard, friends.

Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 700+ articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

– Explore These Post Tags –

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.

More from this Category

Podcasts Begin — Episode 1: This Is Troutbitten

Podcasts Begin — Episode 1: This Is Troutbitten

In this inaugural Troutbitten podcast, my friends Bill, Austin, Trevor and Josh join me to discuss how fly fishing for wild trout creates a life on the water.

We consider what it means to fish hard, how hope is the strongest trait of a successful angler, why everything works sometimes, and how fly fishers, all too often, are a little much.

We also talk about the tenets of Troutbitten, or the shared interests and characteristics about fly fishing that bring us together and keep us excited about trout fishing for a lifetime . . .

Night Fishing for Trout –The Wiggle and Hang

Night Fishing for Trout –The Wiggle and Hang

Lifting the rod slightly, I shake the rod tip left and right. Easy, rhythmically, I wiggle the tip and feel the line wave as I see it dance and glow in the dark. The fly shimmies and sends a pattern of waves through the surface and beyond, calling to any trout within who-knows-how-far.

#7. Guiding the Flies: Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

#7. Guiding the Flies: Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

We overweight to lead the flies, and we underweight to track them. But to guide the flies, we must find the middle ground, with enough weight to control the flies against the effects of the current but not so much that the flies cannot be permitted to drift at the will of that same current.

This may sound like a bit of hocus pocus. But in truth, it’s an intuitive process that becomes natural with trial and error . . .

Night Fishing for Trout — The Bank Flash

Night Fishing for Trout — The Bank Flash

I returned to a tactic that I’d employed on many dark nights where I couldn’t effectively reference the bank. I reached up to my headlamp and flicked on the light for an instant — a half second and no more — before returning back to the black. Then, just like the quick shots of lightning earlier, the lamp showed me the way. The image of the riverbank burned into my brain. Something inside of me calculated the adjustments and converted the images into accuracy with my tools of fly rod, line, leader and fly. It was a little bit of magic . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. That is one great tip. Thanks.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

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.

Pin It on Pinterest