Fly Life Magazine

The seemingly magical properties of Zelon

I By Skip Clement

Like many folks, I was sure I was going to save money tying my flies. That, as it has turned out, was a pipe dream. I’m sure some can save money tying their flies, even believe in fairy tales, but it isn’t me. Year’s later with bins full of materials and tying tools, I have lost money but gained knowledge.

Every so often, a new material comes into tying view that changes things. A dental curing light used for polymerization of resin-based composites, EP fibers, Bodyspan Spandex Elastic, tube fly resurgence, using circle hooks, Kreelex, and the realization that spending more for Whiting Farm feathers is cheaper than buying feather packets at Joann’s or your local craft shop.

So, what about Zelon?

Zelon, a made-up word and a made up material that has an unrehearsed potential for tyers of the fly. It’s potential has been realized as wings and nymph case shucks on tiny trout flies, but an adventure into the briny waters or big flies may be where it’s underutilized. Why?

It is a cobweb of open, single, crinkly fibers that can be shaped, cast and hold their shape, or reshaped when the fly is eaten. It makes legs as well as mini antennae, but its best performance is creating disturbance and shedding water. Zelon is good for anything that you need to “stick out” from a tube or hook shank, and a material that can be anchored quickly – X wrapped. It can be shaped, bundled as in dubbing – used as anything other than a marabou-like tail or palmered hackle.

I’ve had luck catching using Zelon in patterns old and new and in various placements on the fly, and I’m not a 100% sure why it’s working so well. The only thing it doesn’t do is slump, hold water, or perform “marabouly.”

I think better tyers can come up with new uses for Zelon. I know, it’s a weird material, but catches fish

Zelon comes in a rainbow of colors. One drawback is that, in its original form, Zelon is only available from Umpqua and Blue Ribbon Flies. That said, I still like talking to someone who ties and fly fishes, try Blue Ribbon, you might like the service and tying information freely given as well.

Zelon is not a miracle drug, it has mimics, but it has an unknowable pescados draw factor – a little like Kreelex material. Seemingly worthless but a star performer when the music starts, Zelon has structure, flash, and an array of fishy colors.


Blue Ribbon Flies


305 Canyon Street

West Yellowstone, Montana, 5975


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