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For those looking to tie on a few flies and teasers in the season ahead, this acrylic resin is clean, neat, quick drying and simple to work with when sitting down at the workbench.
By Pete Barrett
A Bob Popovics Flex Fleye tied using Tuffleeye Flex.

Bob Popovics started a revolution in fly tying when he perfected and popularized the use of epoxy resins to create flies that could stand up to repeated strikes from toothy critters like bluefish. His Surf Candy series, Ultra Shrimp and Spread Fleye have become “must-have” patterns in every flyrodders tackle bag.

The epoxy technique has been adapted by surf fishermen to make teasers and durable tail hooks for bluefish poppers, and even bottom fishermen have gotten into the act, tying up some unique fluke rigs with added color and flash.

As good as epoxy is, it is still a messy way to make flies, teasers and rigs. It also yellows with age. Wet A Hook Technologie’s Tuffleye acrylic resin literally blows away epoxy. It’s easy to use, very hard when cured, doesn’t yellow, requires no mixing and is cured quickly with a special light.

Bob Popovics worked with Wet A Hook Technologies to help test and perfect the system almost ten years ago. At the time, he said, “I am excited I have finally found a material I can honestly say surpasses epoxy.” Wet A Hook appropriately decided to name its product Tuffleye, a take off on the Popovics' Pop Fleyes series of flies that he created.

Not long ago I had a chance to speak with Bob at a meeting of the Atlantic Salt Water Flyrodders where he demonstrated the Tuffleye system. The next day I went online to order a Tuffleye kit and in just a few days I was at the tying bench experimenting. I thought the learning curve would take some time, but after my second Surf Candy, I was up to speed and cranking out flies much more quickly than when using the time-consuming epoxy method, and with less mess. I also tied up some special fluke rigs, a few surf teasers and several siwash-style tail hooks to go on my bluefish poppers. The more I used the Tuffleye system, the more I felt at ease with it.

The Tuffleye kit includes two tubes of resin, two application nozzles, three small brushes and a flashlight equipped with a special 3-watt LED bulb emitting a bluish light. The larger resin tube contains the Core resin, a clear, thick gooey substance about the consistency of peanut butter, that squeezes from the tube through the application nozzle to build up bulk and the body shape of the fly pattern. It doesn’t drip like epoxy, so you can take your time to work the resin into the fly and move it around with the nozzle tip or the small brushes until it is exactly the shape you want. The Core resin is so thick, you can literally walk away from the tying bench to answer the phone, and when you return, the resin is in the same shape and position as when you left.

After shaping the Core resin, hold the flashlight about 1/4 inch away from the fly and shine it on the resin for about 5 to 10 seconds until cured. A rotating vise is handy so every surface of the fly (or teaser) can be rotated to be directly exposed to the light.

Tuffleye Core dries with a tacky finish that helps to bond with the final Finish resin, which has a much thinner consistency and allows the fly to be completed with a smooth, beautiful finish. After applying the Finish resin, expose it to the light for curing. The slight sticky coating that remains can be removed with a soft cloth, and if desired, a quick coat of Hard As Nails can be applied to achieve a non-stick finish. I removed the oily residue by dipping my finger in denatured alcohol, holding it against the fly and spinning the fly in the vise.

Another advantage of the Tuffleye system is the elimination of the traditional epoxy drying wheel. Each fly is complete and finished after the blue-light bath, and can be placed in the fly box ready for use.

Tuffleye resins are available at fly shops and specialty tackle shops. You can get more information about the Tuffleye system at www.wetahook.net.