Metal components used in fly tying like lead, copper, brass, tungsten, chrome, nickel and stainless steel all produce electricity and a corresponding electric field when contacting dissimilar metals like tempered or stainless steel hooks.
This process is called ionization or galvanization, the disbursement of positive and negative ions stimulated by oxygen in the water. Some metals are more reactive than others producing too many negative ions that do a great job of repelling fish.
A single brass bead on a high carbon hook in salt water gives you from 10 to 30 minutes of fishing where you might be attracting fish. After that they either get too hot or produce too many negative ions and repel fish.
The only thing that changes in fresh water is the length of time you have to attract fish before the same thing happens. This will be determined by the TDS present in the water. Low TDS will give you hours of fish attraction with just a single brass bead on a steel hook. The higher the TDS the less time you have to attract fish.
Metals that generate high negative ions like lead and copper lower your fish attraction time and should always be insulated from the hook with thread and head cement.
Here is an experiment for you to try
Using a TDS meter and a distilled water sample, adjust the TDS level by adding sea salt, a few grains at a time and bring the TDS up to 500 PPM or as close as possible.
Here the TDS is testing at 475 ppm, I added a few more grains of sea salt and it tested at 521 ppm. This is the very top of the upper range for the Electron Fish Attractor.
Next add one drop of Hydrogen Peroxide 2% per ounce of water to add oxygen to the sample and gently stir.
Place your fly into a container and pour the water over it deep enough to let bubbles float over it. If hydrogen bubbles start accumulating on the surface of the fly there is proof of electric generation.
To record this remove the fly from the water sample and test it with a volt meter that displays millivolts. The voltage won’t be constant reducing rapidly once measured.
Try negative to the brass bead and positive to hook.
I found that a #8 tempered steel hook with a small brass bead would generate .01 mV at 500 PPM TDS for 1 hour. After 2 hours the charge had increased to .03 mV, and to .08 mV in three hours.
Left: Electron Fish Attractors - Fresh Water 1 low TDS.
In 1 hour hydrogen bubbles starting to form due to electric generation.
Middle: Bead head blood worms. Brass bead and tempered steel hooks showing signs of hydrogen bubbles showing electric generation.
Right: Bead head dragonfly nymph and bead head pheasant tail nymph also showing hydrogen bubble forming proving electric generation.
After 3 hours
Left: After 3 hours you can see the Electron Fish Attractors generating lots of smaller hydrogen bubbles as it generates an electric charge.
Middle: Hydrogen bubbles are more visible, electric generation is inducing premature corrosion of hook. Iron oxide is leaching out into the water showing a rusty stain.
Right: Hydrogen bubbles are also visible. Iron oxide leaching is just starting due to premature rusting.
Summary: The brass bead and tempered hook flies are generating an electric charge and field. The iron oxide indicates a high generation of negative ions that repel fish.
Although the electric field is much less than the Electron Fish Attractor the high generation of negative ions will start to repel fish within 3 hours.
If the TDS was cut in half to 250 ppm the fish attracting time would be 6 hours,
at 750 ppm it would be 2 hours and at 1000 ppm TDS only 1 hour.
At 6 hours the results are conclusive (see the picture at the top) the Electron Fish Attractors are completely covered in hydrogen. It would be questionable if it still attracts fish as 500 ppm is the max for the Fresh Water 1 Low TDS Attractors.
The brass bead flies are clearly covered in hydrogen and iron oxide and have lost their fish-ability long ago.
The same experiment done in salt water with a TDS of 30,000 PPM and a #8 stainless steel hook and a small brass bead produced 1.0 mV in 10 minutes, 18 mV in 1 hour and 64 mV in 3 hours. The fish attraction of this combo is about 30-90 minutes.
All this technology was not worth a dam when it came to convince fly shops to carry the Electron Fish Attractor line. They mostly argued that their clients are hard core purists that would never use electric fields to catch fish in any way. They did not believe they already were, nor would they investigate any further.
That attitude is the height of ignorance that all game changing technology faces.
We can't win
Two purchasers agreed to try the Salt Water 2 for Bonefish. One was headed to Belize the other to Little Cayman. They both said that the Bonefish wanted a crab pattern attractor and would go right to it from a distance.
The guy that went to Cayman ordered for himself but didn’t think they would sell in his store so he declined. The other guy said he caught Bonefish and Permit all day long on day one of his three day stay but never used it on day two and three.
When asked why he said it took all the fun out of the chase and that frustration is part of the game. “It’s not just about catching fish” he said. Then went on about how using the Attractors was cheating and could not support us.
I had no response to that other than to each his own. Personally I like catching fish and I like watching other people catch fish, especially those new to the sport.
In my lifetime I have known fly tyers, rod builders, tackle crafters, carvers, collectors, artists and writers all with a burning passion for the sport and their niche but never or seldom fish. True to form I guess, there are those that revel in the chase and the cast and catching a fish might be an inconvenience.
It’s a head scratcher!