Photo by Louise Docker

PT.1: Introduction

PT.2: Using a Continuum for Analysis

PT.3: How Flash Transforms Light

PT.4: Fishing with Reflective Flash


The first part of a multi-part article
• The pros and cons of flash materials.

• How to use a continuum to evaluate materials
• Fishing tips for using reflective flash

Another Easy Essential Skill
for Original Fly Creation

Simplify your thinking –
by grouping like items.

This grouping could also be called categorizing, associating, relating, or connecting. In this exercise, sort flash materials into groups that share common characteristics.

Instead of thinking about making choices between hundreds of products, you instead make choices among a handful of categories.

This simplicity makes it easy to clarify your thinking, do comparison testing, and make sense of your on-water fly choices.

See if this approach helps clarify your creative thinking.

For example: do you know if your effective flash material is:




A combination of any of the above?


Get into a habit of analyzing materials, breaking them down into their component parts. Compare the parts with those of other successful materials. Find out what they have in common. Look for repeating patterns, then act on your discoveries.

FLASH, what we call a LIGHT EFFECT FIBER, is flush with fish-attracting qualities.

The trend started in 1982, with Hedron’s Flashabou, and has exploded into hundreds of products. But all that glitters is not gold. These bits of mylar, foil, and plastic are often misused in fly patterns.

Confusion created by the vast variety of flash is also not a positive.

40 years of products makes for a bewildering array of options.

Here's an attempt,from a fly designer's point of view, to find the needle in the glitter haystack.

For great fishing results, it helps to understand what flash is, and how to use it. A useful strategy for analyzing fly tying materials is lalso described.

In this series of articles (this one)

1. Introduction to Flash materials

2. Using a Continuum as an Analysis Tool

3. Pros and Cons of Reflective Flash

4. How to fish with Reflective Flash

Future articles - (in progress and coming soon)

1. Translucent and Iridescent Flash
2. An Illustrated Collection of Natural Translucents and Iridescents

3. Unusual and Useful Sources for Synthetic Flash Materials

Planned articles (projected)

4. The UV Hype - a rant

5. Fluorescents and Phosphorescents

A SELF-TEACHING EXERCISE - Establish a Baseline
Before we tackle this topic, please do this: - locate your favorite flash material. This can be a material from a wide range of products. Some generic choices might include flashabou, spiral-twisted flash, trilobal, pearl, holographic, a sparkle dubbing and so on.

Take a good look at that material and write down all the qualities it has that you see and feel. If you want, do that for a range of products that you use. Compare this early list with ones you would make after reading this article.

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Click to see Fly Tying Flash Materials Analysis on the Fly Foundry site.