How UV and fluorescent materials work

featured, Videos — By on December 8, 2014 11:19 am

A great breakdown of light properties and how light impacts color and treatment of fly tying materials.

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Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)


  1. Brian Elward says:

    Very nice to hear someone with the same ideas! Very good explanation! Did research on the tetrachromatic eyesight of birds, blue fronted amazon, so the info you gave was very solid and understandable.
    I never got the whole UV hype.

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  2. bob seevens says:

    Very informative ! Makes me think about all other materials with magical attraction on fish(erman)

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  3. John Hall says:

    Hi Kevin! the video is beyond impressive!
    I just have a question for you. Would you say that trout, as a specie is especially sensitive to UV materials? I heard this claim once, and I want to double-check it with you!

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  4. Reed Curry says:

    Some corrections:
    1/ Humans when young are sensitive to UV. However, yellow pigments develop in the lens of the eye, absorbing UV. However, adult humans who have the lens of their eye removed in cataract surgery are able to see in UV.
    2/ You are wrong regarding the UV sensitivity of mature trout. Please read for a full understanding.
    3/ White is not always UV reflective. Some white fly tying materials are treated with Titanium dioxide to make them appear whiter; however, TiO2 absorbs UV light, so they are dark in the UV.
    4/ We have been using UV reflective materials for centuries. All materials reflect some percentage of some UV wavelengths. Those artificial flies which match the natural insects in their UV markings have proven to be the most effective flies over the past century. See my book “The New Scientific Angling – Trout and Ultraviolet Vision” for UV and visible photos of naturals and artificials.

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  5. John Hall says:

    Hi Reed! Thank you very much for your explanation and in-depth answer, I really appreciate it! I cannot thank you enough!

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  6. David Talmadge says:

    This has been a very interesting talk and findings are very much endorsed by myself…
    I have been experimenting with a new weighted Damsel pattern for over 1.5 years now and have found that using the Fluorescent materials, ribbing and Marabou, they have significantly increased the trouts attraction to these patterns.
    I have confidence in the material and in my fly pattern and in what you had to say on the subject.
    Thank you…
    David T

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  7. John Jacobs says:

    I appreciate your indepth scientific analysis.

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  8. AT says:

    Thank You for taking the time for the research, and sharing your knowledge, in words we can all understand.
    There are a lot of theories, but few are actually proven

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  9. Peterodp says:

    Very informative and will change my practice

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  10. Vic Loiselle says:

    you have in some way confirmed what I suspected about UV.I have not studied up on the subject as you did. I think you have confirmed what I suspected.
    Thanks Vic L.

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  11. Reed Curry says:

    A recent – 2013 – scientific study indicates that yearling brown trout consistently prey upon stickleback minnows which have UV-reflective patches, over those where the UV patches cannot be seen. See

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  12. Marcus says:

    As regards materials, the conditions and the prey will vary. What worked in one instance may not work in another for reasons that only the fish know.

    Bob Popovics said it very well: “We often give the fly too much credit when it works and too much blame when it doesn’t.” IOW, much more depends on how you fish than what you fish. I remember how the Barry and Kathy Beck wrote about watching Bob Clouser take over 40 smallmouth on one of his crayfish patterns. No UV or fluorescent materials on that fly, but when he “hit them on the nose”, he jumped a fish every time. (Trout love that fly, too BTW)

    That said, build your flies using materials that make you more confident. The higher the expectation of a strike, the more likely you’ll be ready when the fish does and not miss an opportunity. The less time you spend on the water wondering if you have the right one on the end of your line will mean more time with your line in the water….where the fish are.

    Tight lines, brothers and sisters!


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  13. Dr. J. Gerace says:

    Outstanding explanation about UV and FL materials. Study referenced by Curry regarding yearling trout and UV light would be relevant to yearling trout only. It does not prove trout of other ages will produce the same result.

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  14. Reed Curry says:


    That is true of all behavioral studies. You might also say that since it was brown trout, we don’t know about other trouts. Sometimes we just need to extrapolate with a hypothesis. We might know that chocolate ice-cream is favored over Brussel sprouts by seventeen year-old boys. Must we conduct a study to determine that men at age twenty-five show a similar preference?

    Perhaps you could refute the studies mentioned in the short essay on my blog –

    If not, you could tell us why use of natural materials in our most effective flies have traditionally matched the UV reflectance of the markings of the prey they were developed to imitate, as illustrated through photos in my book.

    Yearling brown trout, 7″ to 9″ in size, have already lost most of their early UV-specific cones. However, they retain excellent UV vision through all their color cones, and at night through the rods of their eyes. How would they suddenly stop using their full vision – for UV is just another “color” to them – at ten inches in size? Can you decide not to see anything in the color blue? And how, in a survival sense, would that benefit you?

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  15. Mike S. says:

    At last! Someone puts all this UV noise in its place. To me the major advantage of fluorescent dyes is that they take ANY light and reemit that light in the dye’s characteristic color. That means that a fluorescent lure in murky water will take the dim, brownish light striking it and reemit that light in whatever the dye’s color is. Imagine a fish coming upon a chartreuse fly in an otherwise dark world. That’s the benefit of fluoresence.

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