There are almost as many types of fly floatant as there are fly patterns these days, with each one claiming to be the best. The "best" claim is a very loose term, so we thought the easiest way to explain was to break apart the different styles of floatant and explain why their is no "best" floatant, and why you might want to have all three types at your disposal.
So many choices......better have another beer and think it over.
Dry Shake should be in every anglers boat bag/wade pack. While it is primarily used to maintain dry flies after an initial gel or liquid application, any flies with CDC will sink with anything but dry shake. After catching fish, or going too long without catching any fish, a quick shake and your fly will be back in action.
Best Use - All Flies
Recommended Dry Shakes. Shimizaki Dry Shake, Loon Top Ride, Fly Duster
Liquid floatants have become more popular over the last few years, since the introduction of Fli-Agra now every company has their own version. Do they work? Yes, very well, but make sure you only apply to fresh flies and be sure to let the fly dry before fishing it.
Best Uses - Any Flies without CDC, Large Foam Flies, Small Dries.
Recommended Brands - Fly-Agra, Shimazaki Liquid Shake.
The oldest and most popular floatant (dry and liquid shakes are quickly catching up). Aquel is similar to the liquid shake, where it is best used as an initial application, or with a well dried fly. A popular technique has been to apply the gel, and immediately apply dry shake for an extra coating.
Best Uses - Any flies without CDC, Small Dries, Stimulators
Recommended Brands - Loon Aquel
Every dry fly snob has their own opinion on the best floatant, so the best way to find what works for you is to get your hands on a few types and do your own field testing. The Troutster Blog did a very in depth test on floatants and you can check that out here.