Introduction: Super Swater
We've been having a lot of flies this summer, and I've been "asked" to stop shooting them with salt because it leaves a mess. The sudden "SNAP" of the salt shooter can also be "unsettling" to other people. I needed a better way to kill flies.
You can't really get enough speed with your hand to swat a fly (unless you're a Jedi or a Ninja). Regular fly swatters are fairly effective because the long handle allows you to sneak up on flies, and the added length of the handle means the swatter at the end is moving much faster than you can move your hand. The springy handle of a fly swatter also adds to the speed by loading energy during the first part of the swing, and unloading that energy at the end of the swing. That's why short, quick slaps are more effective than a long swing of the swatter. Even though the classic swatter is pretty effective, I still wind up missing a lot. Flies are almost psychic in their ability to anticipate a swat.
Looking closer at the classic fly swatter, is there some way we can improve on that basic design? Adding more length, and finding a springier handle seemed like a good place to start.
As it happens, I have come across more than a couple of broken fiberglass fishing poles while walking along our river trail. These are both longer and springier than a normal fly swatter handle. I also happen to have lots of scraps of fiberglass window screen (my dog can't always see when screen a screen door is closed).
Tip-section from old fiberglass fishing rod (a broken tip is fine)
Scraps of fiberglass window screen
Wood for handle (optional)
Step 1: Make the Flap and Prepare the Rod Tip
This fiberglass screen is pretty flimsy, so I cut a piece about five inches wide and 14-inches long, and folded it in half. It still seemed flimsy, so I cut a couple of shorter pieces to sandwich between the folded piece. I cut some notches in the ends of the shorter pieces to allow it to bend more evenly. I'll see how this works and make adjustments if it's not right.
Fold two corners of the layered screen flap inward, to meet evenly at the middle, and staple the folds in place at folded edge. Add a few more staples to the folded edge, to make the edges more rigid. Note: be sure to leave about an inch-and-a-half of open space, between the point of the flap, and where the folded edges come together. You need this opening to insert the tip of the fishing rod. Cut a small triangle of the screen and fit it inside the slot, between the folded pieces. Just tuck the piece inside the opening, straddling the gap, so you'll have a little pocket to fit the rod tip into. Tip: Leaving a corner of the screen triangle sticking out of the gap will make it easier to insert the rod tip later.
The rod I'm using was broken off at the tip. I just trimmed the fiberglass back to the first line guide, and squeezed the line guide flat, in line with the rest of the rod. If your line guide is attached at two points, try to bend the line guide as flat as possible against the rod tip. It will still work if it's a little bulky.
Step 2: Glue the Flap to the Rod Tip
This part is a little tricky. Work the tip of the rod into the pocket you made between the folded edges of the flap. You will be "sandwiching" the rod tip between the flap and the triangular scrap piece that you inserted in the previous step. This will make the joint stronger and keep the rod from working loose.
Fiddle around with the mounting point until the flap is positioned correctly and the rod will sit in a stable position with a weight placed on top. For some reason I decided to put the line guides on my rod pointing down, when I glued the flap in place, so I had to brace the rod with a pair of scissors to hold it in position. You just want to make it so the flap looks like it is fitted squarely to the rod. Don't forget to put a scrap of plastic under the flap to keep the epoxy from sticking to the table.
Mix up a generous dab of two-part epoxy (a blob about the size of a quarter), and drip it onto the rod tip and screen at the mounting point. Fold some plastic over the flap and weight it with a rock or something to keep the flap in position and screen pressed into the epoxy.
Step 3: Practice Your Swats
It takes a little bit of practice to get the range of the long swatter. It also seems to help to sort of "snap" the swatter, rather than just smacking away. Snapping the swatter makes best use of the springy aspect of the fiberglass rod, and you don't need as long of a swing. Think of it like a little bull whip that you're cracking at the fly. With practice, you can smack them out of the air.
I gave this to my beta tester and the reviews were all positive. In fact, I wanted to staple or stitch around the edges to stiffen the flap, buy the beta tester rejected that idea.
The Super Swatter does take some getting used to, the longer handle really does give you more stealth, but you also need a to improve your aim.
Lastly, this doesn't really need a handle, but I've got a nice wooden handle somewhere, and when I find it I'll add it to my Super Swatter.
[If the line-guides bother you, they can be trimmed off with diagonal cutters, just be sure to cover the snipped off places with tape to keep from scratching the furniture.