The Fly Airbrushing Revolution

The Copic Airbrush system

First off, this is literally one of the more fun tools and techniques in my tying arsenal. I first learned about these cool fly tying tools a few years ago and have been using them ever since. Nowadays, you'll see a lot of tyers out there that have finally picked up on this little gem, so it's not just a passing fad. Not only can you have a blast painting poppers, but the Copic Airbrush system can be used to paint crease flies...

Smallmouth bass on crease fly popper

Crawdad bodies...

crawdad fly pattern crawfish craw

And whatever else you might have in mind.

bluegill popper fly pattern yearofthebluegill

The beauty to this little system is that you have the creative power of an airbrush but with the convenience of the patented "hot-swappable" marker system. You can literally swap from color to color in a few seconds with no clean-up in between. Not only that, but the airbrush system is portable by virtue of it's "canned air" system or you can go "plugged" with a standard craft or airbrush air compressor. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive compared to other styles of airbrushing out there.

The possibilities are really endless. From the pattern coloring patches, to the airbrushes and markers, you can really churn out a lot of different fly patterns. A fun way to get started is with our plain white bass poppers from Rainy's. It's a great way to flex your artistic muscles.

Check out the starter kits and selection of markers on our store here.

To get started, here's a list of things to keep in mind:

  • The markers themselves are not fully water proof, so it's not recommended that you just color something and leave it uncoated. For my poppers, they're usually coated with something like a Clear Cure Goo or a Loon UV Clear Finish. 
  • Related to the first item, it's important to know that the UV cure products don't necessarily get along nicely with foam and especially don't like foam that's been painted with Copic markers. To get around that, I usually apply a base coat (or two) of a white acrylic paint to act as a primer. Not only does this prevent the glue from bubbling and the paint from running, but it also enhances any colors you apply to the foam because it creates a much less porous yet paint-friendly surface.
  • As opposed to what you see in the videos below, make sure to use latex or plastic gloves as the chance of getting over-spray is high when painting in tight quarters like this. 
  • If you want to get some cool patterns on the flies you tie, be sure to check out the coloring patches or the template mask shown in the video below.