semperfli-nano-silkWhen we first heard of Nano Silk thread and the maker’s claims of amazing strength, we were confused. A super strong silk? Maybe spun by super silk worms born on Krypton and brought on Superman’s rocket in the 1940’s? No – turns out, this product is not silk at all but fine, stranded GSP thread from SemperFli in the U.K.

Eager to learn more, we had an interesting email exchange with the man behind this intriguing product, Andy Kitchener. To learn more you can meet Andy and watch his demo of Nano Silk right now!

After watching the demo, we still had questions. Here they are, with Andy’s answers:

Q: Is the thread stranded, as it appears on the video, and can it be split for dubbing loops? As a practical matter, what size thread is the smallest that can be split with a bodkin?
A: Practically speaking, you can easily split 18/0 30 Denier with a bodkin for dubbing. Nano Silk is so thin that for flies to size 18 it can be used as a full dubbing loop then twisted with 2 loops without the need for splitting. As far as weight, it is obviously much, much finer and lighter than almost any other thread. One cubic inch of compressed Nano Silk weighs less than 0.06 ounces.

Q: In the video, you mentioned using wax to prevent the thread from slipping. What kind of dubbing wax do you find best?
A: As far as waxes are concerned, like an idiot, I make my own with rosin and bee’s wax! Mainly because it allows me to produce a dark wax for spider patterns’ coloring. However I have tried several other waxes with no problems.

Q: Since GSP is a harder material than nylon/polyester (to the extent that it damages scissors), is there less need to use head cement to make a fly more durable?
A: As far as durability you can tie a fly without varnishing however aesthetically I use UV cure bonds, superglues and varnishes as it produces a quality fly.

Q: If head cement is desired, what types are recommended? UV cure? Water based? Soft coatings like Softex and Flexament?
A: The only thing to avoid is solvent based glues and solvent based varnishes as it does weaken Nano Silk.

NOTE: You can find Nano Silk at J. Stockard Fly Fishing. Choose either 12/0 or 18/0.

5 Comments

  1. Andy, is the nanosilk thread all shiny and smooth? Or does it depend on the color purchased?

    In the photos it looks like a shiny synthetic material, low-friction, semi-transparent, non-absorbent of liquids. True on all counts?

    I presume its low-friction nature is the reason for using wax?

    – Mike

  2. Mike, you are correct about Nano Silk’s properties – like all GSP threads, it is shiny, smooth, non-absorbent and slick. Wax can be applied either to stick material into a dubbing loop or to weakly secure the thread in place while winding the thread. – James @ J. Stockard

  3. Thanks for clarifying James. It is indeed attractive to have strength with practically zero bulk, for many tying applications…especially really small flies, and whenever the matierials being tied in need to dominate the fly’s appearance instead of the thread playing such a big visual part.

  4. I am still somewhat confused about Nano Silk’s properties. It’s not silk, but a GSP. My previous experience with GSP is that it is the strongest thread on the market. A CA or CA+ adhesive will absolutely weld it to itself or materials to include the hook. The thinner deniers will provide very small build-up with little chance of breakage. It is amazingly strong for its size. Yet, I recognized early some of the problems with GSP. The colors are anemic, washed out. GSP thread seems resistant to Chartpak, Pantone, or Sharpie pens. Up to this point, my use of GSP is very limited, given its shortcomings. I seldom need such strength of GSP, because like other experienced tiers I am quite practiced at handling small diameter threads of much weaker strengths. However, the video showed Nano Silk taking colored markers without a problem. The other feature, which I find quite useful, is that the filaments may be separated with a needle for very fine dubbing.

    I had to chuckle when Andy mentioned he was from Yorkshire, home of the North Country flies, esp. spiders. When he came out with Nano Silk, which has nothing to do with silk, I imagined W. C. Stewart, James Bailley, John Turton, Michael Theakston, T. E. Pritt, and Edmonds and Lee are turning over in their graves. I would love to know how his fellow anglers from Yorkshire view his product as many I read still tie their flies in the North Country tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

    So, J. Stockard Fly Fishing has a brief promo now for Nano Silk. I suppose I should order some now to see for myself how well it performs.

  5. Hi Bob, you are right to chuckle over the Yorkshire references. I hope that as good fly tyers Pritt, Edmonds and Lee maybe would be investigating it to see what it is like and what it does for their flies, that is what good fly tyers do. The Fly Tying Market is split in the UK (and most of the world) you get some fly tyers who love new products and some are and take time to try new materials. Check our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/semperfli?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark to see what many tyers who demonstrate around the world think of Nano Silk and the flies they tie, they are stunning, that is possibly the most objective non-biased view of Nano Silk as professionals display their flies tied with Nano Silk and our other products.

    We called it Nano Silk because it is very small (Nano) and Silk because it is shiny smooth and silky. As for traditionalists only wanting silk this will lay flat like silk, it much smaller diameter but unlike traditional threads actually had much more use than people realise for example tying a micro caddis with flared Elk Hair size 20 which will not break. As usual the limitation is with the tyer stuck always tying the same patterns the same way. I use Nano Silk for almost all of my fly tying in different deniers as do many of our pro-tyers, I don’t use it often on foams for example as it simply can cut through it like a hot knife through butter.

    With Nano Silk we have developed a extra high strength GSP, it will take marker pens as you see on the video. If left on a windowsill for a few months the colours will fade. We tried it with real silk and colours faded there so no big shakes. Personally I use white Nano Silk with marker pens, I have used Sharpie, Copic and Kuretake which work. These pens give a rich colour for the final 3 to 6 inches to color the heads. I use colored Nano Silk if I want to give a good rib effect on Chironomids or small dries for example. Ultra fine Chiromomid buzzers can be produced with black Nano Silk laid flat over the entire hook with yellow open looped Nano Silk for ribbing.

    One of our pro-tyers uses size 18/0 Nano Silk with mouse hair dubbing so it does split well (I just wish I could see and tie that small without my magnifying lens!). With just 90 twists per meter it is simple to split into dubbing loops. One of our pro tyers split down further in Newcastle ties size 32 flies with it. Have fun, once you use Nano Silk you will enjoy it.

    Regards

    Andy

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