How and why amadou works
In a world clouded by consumerism, we decided to keep things simple and true. After years of try and error, finally the eureka moment came:
Amadou (and here we refer to amadou used in fly fishing) is actually a sponge. The higher the quality of the amadou sheet, the finer the network of channels and fibers and thus the better absorbing capacity of the patch. Being extremely soft (that would be the ideal type of amadou), while pressing the fly between the sheets, the amadou does not break or destroy the barbs or the hackles of the dry flies. It is particularly good for CDC, where the barbs are the retaining “air chamber” of the fly, conferring it its floating ability. The best amadou contains no chemicals, it just quickly absorbs the water and moisture of the fly, leaving it ideally as fresh as right up the tying bench.
The innovation behind
Being like every other sponge or absorbing material, amadou absorbs water starting from its surface and leading it through the capillarity effect in the deeper layers – though amadou absorbs the water extremely fast. In time the sponge will dry again by eliminating the moisture through evaporation, starting the other way around, from the deeper layers towards the surface.
The design problems with the amadou patches available on the market are that no matter how expensive, they were so constructed that the moisture remains in the deeper layers, needing a long period of time to evaporate. The moisture is absorbed from the surface into the deeper layers until it reaches the leather patch. And this is another disadvantage: the leather gets wet as well.
The moisture retained in the deeper layers lead in time to the irreversible clogging and compression of the fibers and to a fast deterioration of the absorbing capacity. So we needed to come up with a system that transports the humidity from the deeper layers faster to the outside, thus helping the amadou stay dry at all times. We had to make our piece of amadou breathe.
There are several types of concepts and mechanisms in nature that use capillarity to exchange heat and water. One of the best ever invented, and one from which a lot of products on the market base today, is one of the most efficient membranes known to man: us. Or actually our skin.
After tedious experiments in order to see how fast the water will be transported through our amadou, after countless sleepless nights with calculations and research on physics, biology and materials, it became clear: we needed to place our amadou sheets on human-skin like plates.
The plates that we use in our patented “Revolution-Amadou” system are actually a modern type of drainage using the capillarity effect as an engine, in order to transport the humidity from the deep layers of the amadou to the outside.
Using carbon fiber as one of the lightest and strongest material available today, we designed and created an evacuation system that works on its own. The fine network of channels and holes lead the moisture from the deeper layers of the amadou through capillarity and also through evaporation due to the difference of temperature between the inside and the outside of the plate, keeping the amadou dry as a bone. Finally the first prototypes were ready and we started testing.
6 years in use and the amadou on the first prototype still looks like new and works like a charm. 6 years where we didn’t have to invest one single cent in a fly drying product, and we hope it will last another 20!
That being said, after an intensive test-period with all our fly fishing friends, we decided to unveil our products and make them available for the fly fishing community.
In order to produce the best amadou possible, the tinder itself is very special. The one we use for our product grows on birch trees older than 200 years old, trees that are already dead. It means you need to search for it in ancient forests, nowadays in the modern Europe almost impossible to find. It needs to be harvested in specific periods of the year, i.e. 20th of June to the 10th of July, 20th of August to the 10th of September or in winter time from 20th of October to the 20th of April. The best ones grow slowly over years in mountain forests at over 1500 m above sea level.
Nowadays the families harvesting the Fomes fomentarius, need to walk 20-30 km a day in rain, cold or even snow. After harvesting, they say the conks are kept in void a couple of weeks, after that taken out into the sun to dry. That is when they get rid of the insects and worms living inside. Other sources say that in the winter time, the conks are boiled a couple of times, than let to dry slowly. The only ones that know the correct process are the families doing it, and they would not share their secrets of the trade with anyone. Sure is that when the conk reaches a specific humidity, the crust is being removed with a sharp curved knife. After removing the outer crust, the core of the conk is exposed. Only a small part of the conk holds the best layer of amadou. This will be separated with a knife and then slowly stretched by hand in circular movements until it reaches its final shape, then left to dry. There are of course a lot of secrets used in the manufacturing process, but contrary to all what it’s written in articles worldwide (using urine or potassium-soda to soften the conk), in the processing steps of the amadou that we offer the only thing other than Fomes fomentarius is water. And of course, a lot of work and loving hands.