In recent years UV or Ultra Violate fly tying resins have become very popular! They started off as a alternative to head cement and now a days entire fly patterns exist that are almost entirely comprised out of UV products!
Lets start off with our most common question "I want to give UV products a try which type should I get?"
So while there are many brands of UV products available most vendors product lines will cover these four basic types and its important that you take the time to think through what it is your most likely to use your resin for.
Thin or Ultra Thin Resins - These resins flow very freely and are not very viscous. They are generally use to finish or apply a UV coat to heads and bodies. These products are generally designed to finish your thread wraps or body in the same manner you would use traditional head cement and adhesives and generally cures fast and hard with a decent light.
Medium, Flow or Flex Resins - These products are designed to be more viscous than thin products but can still flow allowing the tier to build up areas on the fly while still allowing for a product that flows and moves around easily. In the case of Flex products these resins are designed to be flexible once cured and do not dry hard making them ideal for streamer patterns and even wader repairs!
Thick Resins - My favorite! Thick UV resins are designed to build up large bodies and heads and are perfect for adding a thick UV coat to flash back patters.
Colored Resins - Are just that UV resin available in different colors and can be used to color heads or bodies and generally can be used as a finishing coat on top of any other UV product that you want to add color too.
So where should you start? by asking yourself what your most likely to use your UV for and what your most interested in trying out. If you want to try replacing your traditional head cement I highly recommend a thin or ultra thin product. If your most interested in beefing up your flash back patterns and building bodies then the Thick formula is best for you!
The second most common question we hear is "what type of light will I need" and "Is there really any difference in UV lights?" the short answer is yes UV lights are not all the same even though they all do the same job of curing resins.
UV lights are used to cure the resin once it is applied to the fly and they come in lots of different sizes. Generally the bigger the light the more "power" it has and this equals a faster cure as well as helps to penetrate and cure bigger volumes of resin when your building up big bodies, heads or flashback bubbles!
Our experience is that most lights will get the job done even a smaller light as long as you allow more exposure time and cure often when building up large resin areas. Generally mid size lights from reparable vendors such as Loon or Solarez do a great job and are used by a lot of tiers that use UV resin for all of their tying applications.
Another thing to consider when choosing your light is its power source. Some lights come with rechargeable batteries while others will use standard battery cells. I really enjoy the rechargeable models however if you plan on traveling or camping with your light then you might want to opt for a standard battery powered light then you can bring spare batteries along on your trip.
One last thing to consider with your light is its potential for other purposes. UV lights can have their place in your back pack and boat bag as a tool to cure UV boat as well as wader repair and can charge up glow products on flies and ice fishing rigs!
Last but not least is "how do I apply the resin to the fly?" The two most common ways to apply UV Resin are with a brush or through a applicator head. Most brands provide you with one or both with your resin upon purchase. I readily use both methods.
I find the brush to be very handy when finishing heads or lightly coating a chironomid body and I quite often use a tapered applicator head when building up heads, bodies, flashbacks as well as placing colored hot spots.
Another great tool to keep in mind when applying your resin is the ability to allow it to "flow" where you need it. If you tie on a rotary vise and are looking to coat a head or body spinning you fly while and after you have applied your resin can allow it to flow evenly over the area you are applying it too.
I started tying with UV products several years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I rarely use a traditional head cement now a days and I find that UV products are fulfilling 90% of my fly finishing and adhesive needs. I tend to use the the ultra thin and thick formulas for most of my applications. Loon actually has my new favorite formula which is a ultra thin fluorescing formula that adds some extra shine to my nymph bodies and flashbacks!