Even before craft stores started selling craft foam, even before fly material companies offered fly foam, and even before there were any commercially available foam flies…. there was Rainy’s Float Foam. The first foam manufactured and marketed to the Fly Fishing industry. Rainy (or as I like to call her: “mom”) first designed and had made an extruded buoyant foam back in 1988. I remember, as a young man, when the first freight shipment of extruded foam arrived in our home and spending hours opening all the boxes, cutting it and packaging it. Boy, labor was cheap back then!?? She also came out with a line of flies that same year replacing traditional bodies of hair and synthetic fiber with a round floating foam body. Hoppers and adult stoneflies were first, followed by beetles and ants. Soon there were almost 50 unique patterns being tied locally and sold all over the nation. Rainy and her trained group of fly shop employees and a few local college students could barely keep up with demand.
Some of Rainy’s original designs using Float Foam
Fortunately for us today, there are a variety of options both for those who want to craft their own shapes and designs or those who just simply want to throw on a pre-fabricated head on a hook shank to upscale simple fly dressings to make a really easy, sharp-looking fly. Nowadays, there is a foam shape already designed for nearly every major application from trout to bass to saltwater.
Float Foam is a little different than other foams and its composition is a little different as well. This is an extruded, closed cell (buoyant), foam that comes in four colors of various diameters. It is available in white and accepts permanent marker and dyes very easily so you could make it any color you desire. It has a thin film or skin on the outside and can be trimmed and shaped or even melted a little bit with a lighter to help shape it. Detailed instructions and pattern ideas are included in every package, but ‘the sky is the limit’ as they say.
Float Foam comes in 4 colors and 4 sizes: Small: 1/8”; Medium: 3/16”; Large: 1/4”; XL: 3/8”
It is ideal for Terrestrials, Stoneflies, Boobies, Blobs, Floating Tarpon Toads, and has many other foam uses. The yellow and orange can also make for an excellent sight indicator. One of the most popular uses for Float Foam right now is making Boobie and Blob Flies out of it. The foam is very soft and, with the variety of colors and diameters, can be fashioned to make a great set of foam barbell “eyes”…one of the key components of Boobie Flies. Float Foam adds just the right amount of buoyancy to fish these patterns subsurface as your “point fly”, but still lifting your dropped nymphs/chironomids off the bottom.
Whatever you may be tying this winter, stock up on some Float Foam and give it a whirl. You will be surprised at how fun and versatile it is to tie with.