Flytying materials question [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Flytying materials question

11-05-2000, 09:00 AM
With all the vast choices of flytying materials out there what do most people use? I use bucktail but it won't hold up as well as Ultra Hair. Also what do you use for very large flies ? I have found angle hair to be a little tricky to work with. Thanks for the imput maybe it will help clear up the confusion.

11-05-2000, 11:25 AM
All materials have their inherent properties. It all depends on what you want to use them for. For example, your mention of bucktail as a tying material. With the use of bucktail many, many decades ago, most fly fisher's were hunters. The need came along to tie longer fresh water streamers. It was a perfect marriage than.

Today more synthetics dominate the tying scene. Lightness, longer, water resistant, (able to tie larger, but lighter flies to cast) and more durable are some of the reasons, along with endless color combinations and iridescence.

For longer materials, there is a wealth of materials. Bozo, Yak, etc. Visit your local fly shop or catalog. The list is endless.

Angel Hair is a great material and your so right, it is hard to handle. Try picking it off the scene. What ever you do don't try to pull on it. With the excess that fall off, you can do two things with it. You can re-roll the findings in the palm of your hand and reuse it. or take the leavings and cut them up into small pieces and add them to your dubbing, if you tie fresh water nymphs or dry' bodies.


11-05-2000, 12:23 PM
Chicken feathers and buck tail hold alot of potential despite their drawbacks...Go to local shops and take detailed mental notes when you investigate their fly offerings. Buy an occassional sample to take home (that's politically correct...) and try your hand at variations on the theme. And don't forget the winter tying claves and certainly the fly fishing shows where you can visit with production "artists" (lots to learn and the price is right). Try to keep your prototypes sparse but don't be affraid to go over the edge...Experiment! You'll get better and soon your friends will want one of you originals. I've caught some fine FINE fish on some UGLY accounting for taste!? Now when I go to fly shops I almost always leave with some sort of natural/synthetic bag of stuff to keep me busy at my vice. ENJOY!
Welcome to the VICE SQUAD!

i'm so outta here
11-05-2000, 12:56 PM
Speaking of inherent properties, I like bucktail for its flotation; I find it's essential in my tying process for creating flies that swim correctly. However, when I want something durable as well, I use Fish Hair. It doesn't have the truly random dispersal of deer hair, but it does have just about everything else I like about deer and comes in all sorts of lengths. I discovered it much in the way Solo describes. Stumbled on it at the Bear's Den in Taunton and have used it in several winning patterns this fall.

Strange, but it seems most of my patterns that use bucktail fish well in the Spring. Not sure of the why and wherefore of this. Anyone have a theory?


11-05-2000, 01:21 PM
Al...My guess is that if it LOOKS like a fish and SWIMS like a fish... hungry preditors will probably think it's time for a snack and BINGO, FISH-ON! An important consideration is the fact that confidence in a fly probably plays alot in its' success...It won't work if it's in the box.
Or am I all wet?

11-05-2000, 03:53 PM
Al, Great question.

The theory that bucktail fishes better in the spring has scientific merit. Seems that most of the bucktails that's used in the fly fishing industry comes from the northern part of the country, hence the name, "Northern Bucktail." Yes, there is a small percentage that come from other areas, but this is mainly do to random acts of road kill.

Northern deer are harvested during the mating/rutting season. Their tails contain a chemical called "uriniphric endorphic acid." more comman known as UEA. Tails with this substance are extremely valuable. As you know, this gland is located in the same vicinity as the reproductive system. The tails get contaminated when you know what happens. Your very lucky to have stumble across a batch.

The first bass you encounter during the spring are usually juvenile fish. Many are just entering into the puberty stage of their existence. Their senses encounter this smell of acid and excite and stimulate their curiosity, thus hitting your bucktail fly.

Successful fly tiers, who hunt and dye their own bucktails will frequently use their finger on the deer carcass and test for these chemicals. Some hunters are better than others performing the test.

Juro, jump in any time now.


i'm so outta here
11-05-2000, 04:49 PM
Ray, I think I'll leave the testing to those with a better nose than mine ;) Solo, you're right. By the time Spring roles around, all the yearnings to fish and high hopes for the upcoming season are going into the vise efforts. You psyche yourself into believing that this one particular color combo can't help but catch, and sure enough, it's a winner. I have noticed that such creations seldom do as well when passed along to a friend....I've always wondered why.... There's a Native American belief that no medicine in and of itself has any power; its ability to heal comes directly from the shaman or medicine man. Maybe Spring bucktail is the same. It's the fly fisher that gives the fly its power over fish.

Just the same, I'll be asking after some rut tail this March. %-)

11-06-2000, 07:13 PM
I went deer hunting today. Here in RI it looks like the rut has started, I saw a buck right under a doe's tail. I didn't shoot as I could only see the hind end of the buck. Tomorrow's another day. For you fresh water fishermen, remind me to give you my "Trouteater" pattern. They are still catching some stripers on the south coast, a few keepers.

11-06-2000, 08:54 PM
Match the hatch...yada, yada, yada...I really enjoy creating something that looks GOOD...natural/synthetic/ offering with feathers, buck tail, flash, glitter, sparkles in the epoxy, big fishy eyes, and a swimming action a Atlantic City showgirl would be proud of...

I work at Westover AFB and one of the flight engineers Captains the "Reel Easy" out of Chatham...he uses the dreaded wire and a deep jigging technique that's not pretty but tends to yield results. His jigs are heavy and tied with a pinkish redish nasty nylon faux bucktail...UGLY! They work well (too well, he kills too many breeders!). They don't look like anything a self respecting striper should or would eat but...they work. There oughta' be a law!? What's up with that?! Stripers have to pay more attention in school, do their home work, and just say NO TO JIGS!

Since I got involved in fly fishing and its' many wonderful facets, the thought of heavy tackle, wire, killer jigs, and "harvesting" makes me feel angry, frustrated, and terribly unfulfilled.

There is something rewarding and special about sitting at the vise... creating a critter that will entice a's a full circle kinda' thing. Its' the ART, the Hunt, the Presentation, the Catch, and the Release. I'll match the hatch because it feels good and it's all part of the CIRCLE. (sorry...must be my medication?!) Be one with the CIRCLE!

11-07-2000, 08:06 AM
lately i've been using polar fibre and kinky fibre alot... have someone show you how tie do a top tie for polarfiber(as it can foul too much otherwise). kinky fibre is easier and you can make a large pattern with good transpareny and a narrow profile , to make it cast easier. not to sound like a plug for this stuff, but it is alive in the water, and doesn't soak up water like naturals. I still love hairwings like the Ray's Fly though. just wish they were more durable. Tom D

11-08-2000, 07:52 AM
I think there is merit to experimenting with materials to suit the application. I like synthetics for translucence, flash, layering, back material, etc. I like naturals for opacity, subtle colors, flotation, body shaping with feathers, etc. Striper patterns are different than steelhead patterns are different than trout patterns are different than...

As a general rule, I tie for imitation or stimulation across the board. There are times when the suggestion of 'real' food is the best medicine and other times when aggravation is the trick. As Ray said earlier, shape, color, action are all key. I tend to go suggestive of real forage during finesse situations or in times of plenty for the gamefish; and stimulate whenever I can get away with it (poppers, sliders, bunnies, bright stuff).

This isn't always the best approach, sometimes I invert the logic. One day on the sound I could see a large springtime gathering of bass in a hole during slack high. If any of you have drifted over Brewster Flats on slack tides, you have probably seen the same thing on the bayside. Anyway, casting the most realistic flies would get an occasional follow and even less frequent take; but putting a popper over the dark area resulted in instant and repeated strikes. You could see the fish ascending from the depths like a trout to hit the popper. I've had the same reaction from rafting bluefish. They'd let a swimmer pass but a popper got the water churning.

The majority of the time I go with the most realistic fly in terms of suggestion. After 20 years of steelheading I believe suggestive devices trigger strikes more than anything else. Fish key on certain signals - the way something twitches, an exaggerated gill plate, an eye, the layering of colors, disappearance into sand, etc. When you are delivering these suggestive signals you are catching fish, period. When you're not, the fish seem smart, when you are they seem gullible.

Materials are important in that they help you devise better suggestions to fish by giving you more options.

All that being said, I use much less bucktail because of the smell and because it's harder to shape than other materials, despite the perfect tips it offers. It's still indispensable for many patterns (deceivers,etc), but doesn't get the call as often as it used to on my bench.