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Pattern Index

E-Z Shape Sparkle Body

Sparkle Body is available in such salty-sounding colors as Silver Scale, Saltwater Blue, and Sand. Other colors containing what looks to be just the right mix of ultra-fine glitter are Pearl, Fluorescent Chartreuse, Sparkling Black, Olive, Gold, and Crayfish which is a darker green. Solid colors consist of Pure White, Pure Black, and an iridescent Red Gill.

What is Sparkle Body? According to the manufacturers, it was "designed to be used in place of epoxy, silicone, hot glue and similar materials." According to the naysayers, it's nothing more than the fabric paint you can buy in any craft store to decorate clothing with all manner of designs.

I bought both Sparkle Body and the craft store brands, Scribbles and Polymark.

While all three products appear to be made with the same basic formula (I'm guessing it's an acrylic.), the sparkling craft store paints have a high content of large glitter flakes in them. They may be fine for adding silverside stripes and the like, but not to build natural-looking bodies. On the other hand, the craft store brands come in a wide variety of solid colors and a small amount can be mixed with Sparkle Body to create unique results.

Sparkle Body is also thicker. It pretty much stays where it's put. You can build a high body on the top of a hook shank while the fabric paint brands tend to collapse or topple. Naturally, a "fabric paint" must be thinner in order to penetrate and bond with clothing fibers.

One of the advantages I hoped for was the ability to build baitfish-shaped bodies instead of the round bullets that usually result from rotating epoxy coatings. Sparkle Body fit the bill. With a flathead toothpick or craftstick, a gentle touch and practice, I was able to build small-to-medium spearing, minnow and sand eel bodies over only a single wrap of thread along the hook shank to act as a "footing" for the Sparkle Body. No rotating.

On the downside, Sparkle Body takes a while to set and you have to be fairly careful about handling the pattern for about an hour after application. I found it best to build the back first, wait an hour to add the belly and an hour more to add highlights to the sides. It's also a good idea to let the stuff dry for several hours before you go pushing in stick-on eyes or adding other adornments. Give everything a finish of Gloss Coat and you'll have a tasty-looking saltwater pattern, but one that many might also find time-consuming to create.

As for replacing silicone, Hallelujah! I tried a very light coat of Sparkle Body over wool, streamer hair, and Sea-Fibers. It shaped the materials, added a hint of color, created a firm, yet soft, body, and all without a mess of silicone over the pattern, my vise, and me.

The Pearl, Silver Scale or Gold seems best for this. Though the colors go on with a cloudy hue, they dry almost clear, leaving the glitter and a light glaze of color behind. The less Sparkle Body you apply, the less opaque the results, and you don't need much to get fibers to fall into shape. What's more, I doubt if large patterns created with Sparkle Body will be as buoyant as those with a thick layer of silicone, so you'll have better depth control. In addition, it's not necessary to coat the entire pattern to get the shape you want. By leaving small gaps in the Sparkle Body coat, you create a natural-looking appearance and allow water in to sink the fly.

That brings us to the big question: Will Sparkle Body stand up to saltwater?

I've heard one fly rodder allowed a pattern to soak in tapwater overnight, discovering that the Sparkle Body had turned cloudy and soft by morning, but overnight is a long time. Even if you fish the same pattern for five hours straight, it won't be submerged for as long.

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