Probably the best known of all fly floatants, Gink has been on the market for 28 years. In that time it has become a verb: (to Gink: 1 – The act of treating a fly with Gink, 2 – More generally, to treat a fly or part of a fly with floatant applied from the fingers.)
From the bottle Gink is a waxy paste. Well, most of the time – if the bottle gets cold the wax gets hard; too warm and it’s a thin liquid. The thing is, within a useful range of temperatures Gink is a paste which makes it easy to squeeze out a little or a lot, just as needed. The paste then melts to a liquid on my warm finger-tips and I can apply it to a fly or parts of a fly as I desire.
Compare that with methods of proofing a fly which involve soaking the whole fly – immersing in a liquid, spraying from an aerosol – and the key difference between Gink and other types of floatants begin to become clear. (Note: This applies more or less to any floatant applied from the fingers.) Unlike floatants which indiscriminately treat the whole fly, Gink can be applied to parts of a fly selectively. I want the body of my Klinkhåmer to sink, I want the hackle and wing proofed so they don't get saturated. I want my emerger to hold flat in the film, not sit up on top, so I proof the back of the fly. I want my adult Sedge/Caddis fly to sit with its body in the water but I don’t want it to sink, hence I use deer-hair for the wing, hence I gink the wing and not the body.
I imagine this all sounds blindingly obvious, but that key difference between total proofing and selective proofing has made a significant difference to fly design and fishing techniques. I doubt Gink was the first stuff used to treat a fly that way (e.g. take a dab of Musclin and smear it on a hackle), but Gink remains one of the best floatants on the market for treating a fly selectively and of course I can use Gink to treat the whole fly if that’s what I need.