stacking hair [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: stacking hair

03-03-2005, 05:55 PM
I only started tying a few months ago, and right now I'm getting into stacking hair for bass flies. The only problem is that I'm really not having much luck! Can anybody help me out? Whenever I watch somebody do it on tv, they just take a little, stick it against the hook, spin the bobbin around the hook a couple of times and end up with nicely spread deer hair. I end up with a mess! :) Just basic instructions on it would really be helpful, and any newbie tips would be much appreciated!

Dble Haul
03-03-2005, 06:48 PM
If you could be more specific with the issues that you're having, we could probably be more specific with our help.

I also recommend that you do a search on "deer hair" in the warmwater fly archive. We had a great lengthy discussion about this a few years ago, and it may contain what you're looking for.

03-03-2005, 07:08 PM
I found another thread where you recommended searching the archives for the info. :) But I can't find anything other than a thread on how to keep the hair tight around the eye of the hook.

Maybe the best thing to do is describe my technique. It's based on what I've seen others do on TV. I cut a small section of deer hair, probably 30-40 hairs. I lay them against the shank of the hook and give it a soft wrap, then on the next wrap I tighten down as I rotate the bobbin around the hook and the hair starts to spread and wrap around the hook. So far so good (I think). At this point, two things happen: 1) the hair starts to move so that I'm no longer wrapping it in the middle. Most of it goes one way or the other so I end up with the thread about 1/3 of the way along it from the end instead of nicely in the middle, and 2) I start to lose a bunch of the hair because the thread doesn't catch it at all.

Hopefully my description helps figure out my problem! (Besides the obvious inexperience... :) )

Dble Haul
03-03-2005, 07:33 PM
The thread in question in the archive is "stacking deer hair", started by doogue back in January of 2002. It's a few pages long.

Back to what you're describing....instead of only making one soft wrap of thread around the hair before making a tightening one, I usually take two soft turns followed by a third that I use to cinch and flare the hair. As I make this third wrap, I slowly let go of the hair from my right hand so that it can be fully flared by the thread. Give this a try vs. the one soft wrap that you're using.

I gotta go now, but I'll return later to see if you've gotten any more advice. :wink:

03-03-2005, 09:38 PM
Mark, thanks very much for the advice. I managed to find the thread you were talking about, but it didn't contain the advice I really needed, but your last post did! The problem was two things: 1) I was doing only 1 soft wrap, and 2) letting go of the hair too early. By following your advice, I was able to make some nice heads on some big minnow patterns for bass bugs. I have no idea what the patterns are called though, but they're what I was looking for! :)

Thanks very much!

Dble Haul
03-04-2005, 07:50 AM
No problem. Glad you got it worked out. :)

03-04-2005, 09:36 AM
Go to: Click on "Fly Tying" from menu on the left of page, then "intermediate fly tying", then parts 34 and 35. This will give you a good start. Your best bet is to have someone show you in person. A really good instructional tape is the one put out by Dave Whitlock. I have never seen Chris Helm's tape, but that gets good comments as well.

03-04-2005, 10:06 AM
I was just wondering, but... I have never bothered with stacking hair, at least not with anything smaller than a size four. I have done my fair share of spinning, and all my flies (that use a spun head) appear just fine. The only reason I have found for stacking is to make an even collar on a small fly. Still, on larger flies an uneven collar (one with hairs of varying length) appeals to me. You can still have a neat collar without totally even tips.

03-04-2005, 12:26 PM

I'll stack hairs when making wings and tails etc. Also for spinning on occassions as I'll stack the hair, trim off the ponits and use only the first 4-6 mm once tied on to get really fine hair. (as I'm too cheap to buy more hair in smallers "gauges".

Helps also for moose hair as the only patch I have left is monstrous in hair diameter.

03-04-2005, 03:49 PM
Whoops! I meant I don't stack with any fly larger than a size four. I also forgot to include that applies to wings, tails, collars etc. :redface:

I love moose hair! Because there's such great diversity in the color of a single moose hair, you can get a great mottled effect. Instead of just taking the first 4-6mm (whether it be from the bottom or the top), use the middle of the hair in one clump, the top in the next etc. I creates a beautiful effect. I wish I had more moose body hair!

03-04-2005, 03:56 PM

Me too, 'cept, I use it to tye some smaller flies too.

I like BIG flies as well ... when I first started fishing here, the wardens thought I was crazy ;)

Want something to FLOAT, I like Caribou or Polar bear hair too.

Nooksack Mac
03-04-2005, 04:36 PM

There may be a problem of word useage here, and while clarifying that matter is no substitute for learning how to do an actual procedure, it's helpful to get it straight, so that nobody is talking past anybody.

"Stacking" means evening up the tip ends of a bunch of hair, in order to make a hair wing or tail where all the hairs end at the same point. It's done with a two-piece tube, by putting the hairs tip-down into the tube, then thumping the tube's base on the tabletop several times. One can also try to reposition the hairs with one's fingers to end at the same point, but I've never had much luck doing that.

"Spinning" or "packing" hairs into a solid mass around a hook shank, then trimming the hairs into a defined body or head shape, is what you're describing. Whichever procedure you're doing, it's important to remove the fine underfur from around the base of the hair bundle, with fingers, a comb, or a small brush. Otherwise, the underfur interferes with the hair spinning freely.

Spinning works only with body hair, which is hollow, and so will flare under thread pressure. Solid hair, as from a bucktail, won't flare.

03-04-2005, 07:47 PM
Thank you Nooksack Mac, that was totally overlooked. I would like to comment on one more thing, however.
Solid hair, as from a bucktail, won't flare.

While the hair most commonly used from bucktails is "hard," (at least ideally...) there is still plenty of hollow, spin-able hair near the base of the tail; often, it's enough for a dozen large bass bugs (given the quality of the tail, or lack there of it).

03-04-2005, 10:09 PM

there is still plenty of hollow, spin-able hair near the base of the tail;
... and nobody told me that at first. Should have seen how frustrated I was trying to tie my first Mikey Finns with the hair sticking straight up (before learned to control the tension on the thread) :(

03-06-2005, 09:26 AM

There may be a problem of word useage here . . . .

"Stacking" means evening up the tip ends of a bunch of hair . . . .

"Spinning" or "packing" hairs into a solid mass around a hook shank, then trimming the hairs into a defined body or head shape, is what you're describing. . . .

Good point Nooksack, but to make matters even more confusing, "stacking" hair can also refer to another method of tying the hair to the hook. You position the hair on the hook and tighten the thread to flair the hair without allowing the hair to spin, and often "stack" one color of hair on top of another to make multicolored bodies/heads or create eyes on hair bugs. I've seen some incredible bass bugs done with that method!


03-07-2005, 11:57 AM
I guess the title of my thread should more correctly have been "spinning hair", though my problem also related to stacking. I was trying to stack hair, but since I couldn't spin it, I couldn't very well stack it! :D