I am pretty ruthless with gear and don’t like carrying anything that doesn’t work. This is all part of my minimalist approach to fishing, backed up by the philosophy that so much goes wrong fly fishing you need to control everything you can control. This means selecting gear that works.
As far as floatant goes I fish two very different scenarios. The first is fishing the evening rise, which I have described elsewhere. I am usually using a #14 Parachute, which I tie on a Kamasan B175 heavy nymph hook, because I don’t like hooks opening up when playing fish.
Fishing the evening rise means making a lot of casts and often with a fly that has been taken a few times by fish. So it is pretty well waterlogged by the time it has hooked a few fish. The most effective floatant in these situations is Gehrke’s Gink.
Gink may not float a fly as high as other floatants, and it may not work as well on a fly that is not waterlogged, but it doesn’t require a fly to be dry before applying. This is a crucial factor when fishing the evening rise, and why I am never without a bottle of Gink.
Where Gink doesn’t work as well is when the flies are big, heavy and bulky. A Madam X, which is the pattern I use for Cicadas, doesn’t stay afloat with gink. I am not exactly sure why, but if I am fishing late summer and I know I will be fishing a cicada a lot I will swap out my Gink for a dry fly silicon shake. What I have at the moment is Tiemco’s Shimazaki Dry-Shake, which works well.
Before I settled on the Dry-Shake I used Loons Hydrostop on my Madam X’s. It basically did not make any difference at all for me and the situations I was fishing in. I am not saying it doesn’t work, I am just saying it didn’t work on my Madam X’s.