The Chemistry of the Artificial Fly


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An Artificial fly is used to imitate bait that various fish eat.  Fishermen use a fly pole and specific flies to imitate various flies based on what type of fish they are trying to catch.  I chose the artificial fly for my project because I've been learning how fly fish and to tie flies so I thought it would be an interesting topic.

Composition of ...

An Artificial fly is made up of a hook, threads of various types, metals like copper wire, plastics, animal fur and feathers.  The main components that I focused on where the the hook and thread.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

  • The Hook is made up of various types of steel, there are two main types of steel used in a fishing hook , stainless steel and high carbon steel. The carbon content of steel is between 0.002% and 2.1% for plain iron-carbon alloys. These values vary depending on alloying elements such as manganese, chromium, nickel, iron, tungsten, carbon and so on.

  • The thread can be made up of cotton or nylon.  Nylon is  synthetic, high-strength,and contains resilient synthetic polymers, the molecules of which contain the recurring amide group CONH. Chemical elements in nylon are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. There are many different types of nylon like Nylon 6 and NYLON 12 (C12H23NO)n

Chemistry's Role

Most modern steel plants use what's called a basic oxygen furnace to create steel. In these furnaces oxygen blows through the molten iron, lowering carbon, silicon, manganese and phosphorous levels. A variety of metals might be alloyed with the steel to create different properties. For example, the addition of 10 to 30 percent chromium creates stainless steel. The chemical composition of carbon steel are as follows: Carbon which can be present up to 2%, Manganese 0.3%, Silicon, Sulfur, Phosphorous, Chromium, Molybdenum, Nickel, Vanadium, and Columbium.

For Nylon there are many different types available and a majority are generally tough materials with good thermal and chemical resistance.  Nylon is a generic designation for a family of polyamides and can be melted processed into fibres.  A polyamide is a macromolecule with repeating units linked by bonds and they can occur naturally or artificially. A chemical formula for one type of Nylon is (C12H23NO)n.  Nylon consists of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen.

Background Research

  • Some elements in steel are not desired two of these in high carbon steel are sulfur and phosphorous they are impurities.

  • The first example of nylon (nylon 66) was produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers At DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station.


-fishing hooks types of fly hooks: sproat, sneck, limerick, viking ...

-materials used : contemporary hooks-high carbon steel, steel alloyed with vanadium or stainless steel / corrosion resistant surface coating/ coatings are applied for color- some hooks are coated with gold, nickel, tin, teflon, and different colors

-two main types of metal wire used: stainless steel and high-carbon steel in hooks

-stainless steel-not as strong as carbon steel but much more corrosive resistant/nickel

-types of flies materials used

-thread used in tying flies

-thread is made up of nylon, polyester, kevlar

-materials used in tying flies

-types of body materials

-type of thread wires tinsel

-high carbon steel

-stainless steel

-Chromium added to stainless steel


-As the carbon percentage content rises, steel has the ability to become harder and stronger through heat treating; however, it becomes less ductile. Regardless of the heat treatment, a higher carbon content reduces weldability. In carbon steels, the higher carbon content lowers the melting point

-Carbon steel


About the Author

Damjanovich is a senior at Billings Senior High. She likes to learn about science whenever she can, she plans on attending MSU in the fall of 2015 and wants to major in biology. In her free time she likes to draw, paint and be outdoors. She is part of the fishing club at billings senior high and likes to go fishing when possible.