So, anyway, I posted a picture a few weeks ago of the process of pre-treating dry flies with a waterproofing agent. I've been doing this for years. I started with Watershed but because of my obsession and satisfaction with other Loon Outdoors products, I made the switch to Hydrostop.
After posting the picture, I was asked repeatedly if I thought it was worth it. In my mind, it is without a doubt worth it. Since getting in the habit of treating all of my non-CDC dry flies, I feel like they have floated noticeably better. BUT with a background in engineering, it's been bugging me to say "Yeah, I definitely think it works better!" That's not good enough. I want numbers.
I started thinking of ways to put it to the test. In the middle of one of my tying sessions, I decided I would consecutively tie 6 Stimulators and treat every other one (Small sample size, I know. This is a low-tech, part time operation, so bear with me.). I asked my technical assistant/wife to pick either 1, 3, and 5, or 2, 4, and 6 to get treated so I couldn't sway the outcome by choosing specific flies. After soaking the bugs for the recommended time limit, I let them dry for a few days.
In the mean time, I went looking to see if this or any similar tests had been done. I found a comparison of floatants tested against one another (here), but nothing on the pre-treatment process. So, I read through reviews on various sites. Almost everyone (using the product properly) who wrote a review raved about how well it worked. BUT no one had any data to back it up.
On with the test...
First, I individually placed the dry specimens into a jar filled with water and shook, sloshed, and spun the jar until the fly completely sank. I tried to agitate the jar uniformly with each test subject. After I tested all 6, I performed the test again with each fly wet.
Somehow, I was not able to sink the first treated fly. It stayed afloat for 5 minutes until I finally gave in. (WTF? This is going to be a long test.) Well, that particular fly was an extreme out-lier and was excluded from this graph (but will probably be the first fly I tie on this spring!). I recorded the float time for each individual fly in seconds for treated/dry, untreated/dry, treated/saturated, untreated/wet. I then took the average float time for all of the treated and all of the untreated flies in both the wet and dry condition. Next, I compared the treated/dry vs. the untreated/dry and treated/wet vs. the untreated wet in the graph below. As you can see, the average float time for the treated flies in the dry condition was greater than the untreated - 25 seconds to 14 seconds. Where the gap really widened, was in the comparison of the wet flies - 20 seconds to 3 seconds in favor of the treated flies. Impressive Loon.
This observation lead right into my next experiment - the Saturated float test. I submerged each fly, squeezed it under water, shook off the excess water, and then dropped it back into the jar and observed which ones floated. The treated flies handily won 3:0.
My final test was a drop test with the flies in a dry condition. So, I had to wait for the flies to completely dry over night. Once they were ready, I dropped each fly repeatedly from a height of 33 inches, and counted the drops it took to sink the fly. Once again, the Hydrostop won quite convincingly.
In my mind, there is now no doubt that treating dry flies with Hydrostop is worth the extra step. Does this mean I will stop carrying my Aquel with me on the stream? Of course not. Eventually flies sink - especially when they're repeatedly pounded by hungry brookies. I certainly won't have to apply other floatants as often.
My test data is attached in the graph below. If you have any question on the test, or anything else for that matter, drop a comment. If you want to point out all of the human error that was ingrained in every bit of this experiment... SAVE IT! Haha, constructive criticism is more than welcome, too.
The next portion of this experiment involves testing the treated flies on fish. Hopefully, there will be spotted/finned results. Is it spring yet?