Not just a flash in the pan
- By: Ted Leeson
Crate loads of new synthetic fly-tying materials appear on the market each year. After a season or two, most of them vanish like the head on a cheap beer. Only a few have legs and stick around, and fewer still rise to the top. Foremost among these has to be Krystal Flash. This twisted-mylar material was first introduced about 15 years ago by Bob Borden of Hareline Dubbin. A handful of imitations have followed in its wake-and they're decent enough-but none look quite as appealing or tie up quite as nicely as the real McCoy.And when it comes to colors (dyeing is Borden's specialty), there is simply no contest. When I first started tying with Krystal Flash the universal wisdom was, "A little goes a long way," and the applications were basic-a few strands mixed in a Woolly Bugger tail or flanking a streamer wing. Despite the name, it didn't exactly "flash;" the material was subtler. It didn't advertise; it flirted, beckoning with a seductive, underwater wink. There was no question in my mind that a bit of Krystal Flash sweetened up my flies, and the trout seemed to concur. Fly tiers, however, are unremitting tinkerers, always looking for a better idea. And what was astonishing in the years after the material appeared was how well Krystal Flash worked for so many different purposes. You see it now used for ribbing bodies, to form lateral lines on baitfish patterns, added to the wings or tails on countless saltwater flies, and as a hackle accent on steelhead dressings. It's tied crisscross on spinner patterns to give the wings a little sparkle; it's used for parachute posts, for wing cases on nymphs, and even for legs; it makes a nifty underwing on caddis patterns and a credible emerger shuck. It can be tied flat, twisted into a cord, or furled. It can even be used instead of thread for a dubbing loop. It's been tied bullethead style to make a long, glittery skirt, and even formed into a bubble to make egg flies. I think part of what has induced to tiers to such relentless experimentation is the variety of colors-over 45 to date, including some UV colors and some that glow in the dark. Picking favorites is tough, but heading my list are the pearl version, which seems to disappear underwater, leaving only an alluring, disembodied glint; and of course, black, the universal fly-tying solvent. So kudos to 15 years of Krystal Flash. May it live to be a hundred.