Do you stack Polar Bear for a wing? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Do you stack Polar Bear for a wing?

02-08-2003, 11:49 AM
When using Polar bear for a wing on a steelhead fly, (specifically the Polar Shrimp), do you stack it first, before tying it in?
FlyGal :)

02-08-2003, 11:52 AM
One thing to keep in mind about Pol. Hair; it's hollow and 'floats like a cork.' Not sure if I'd actually use the material for a fly that was intended to be sunk.

02-08-2003, 12:05 PM
Hi and thanks for the response, so quickly!
The pattern calls for buck tail, polar bear or Arctic fox. Would one of the other materials serve the purpose of this Polar Shrimp better?
Thanks for your help!

02-08-2003, 12:38 PM

I have never stacked polar bear, one of the features of it is the natural taper it gives to a wing. The one problem I have had over the years is that it tends to be a bit slippery and requires a little head cement to anchor it - before you go on to the next step in the tying sequence.

Polar bear hair is a great material for wings, the translusence it has is unmatched. If you've got it, use it. As for the "floating like a cork", I've never heard that of polar bear, I've used it for years both for steelhead patterns and for bucktail trolling patterns for salmon - none of them wake!

As a substitute Arctic fox is really nice, it actually has a little more action than polar bear.

beau purvis
02-08-2003, 03:04 PM
i would reiterate everthing Kush said. i love its translusence.when i tie hair wings now i tie the wing on first. john shewey's new book shows how to do that. pry open the doubleback of the eye a little bit on an alec jackson. lay the hair facing forward and try to get a lot of it in that opening between the wires. tie starting behind the double wire and wrap forward then back to the end and start usual by tieing tags and tail. when you get back forward to where you want to tie the wing, reverse the wing material [ pb] and tie it down in that position. Beau

02-08-2003, 09:03 PM
"As for the "floating like a cork", I've never heard that of polar bear, I've used it for years both for steelhead patterns and for bucktail trolling patterns for salmon - none of them wake! "

.. Polar Bear hair's major qualities (illegal in the US?) for fly work. It's the 'hollow hair' that provides it's insulation qualities that allow the Bear to wander around on ice and snow most of its life. 'Natures' version of R-90.:D

So now you know the 'rest of the story.

02-08-2003, 10:09 PM

see link below

Everything you would want to know about polar bear hair, its translucent not white, sunlight makes it look white, there fore it seems you would want to use it in sunlight ?

Just a thought, since I cannot get my hands on any other than imitation I don't really know what it looks like in the water.

Very interesting reading though.

PM Out

02-08-2003, 10:33 PM
Hi FlyGal -

For steelhead hairwing flies, e.g. polar shrimp, I do stack the wing hair unless it's too fine to do so (fox). Using a larger diameter stacker helps, I have a smaller and larger diam stacker for various applications.

This also separates any fluff from the hairs which is good on certain patterns although I like to include the underfur on some patterns where I am looking for that look.

For streamer type flies, saltwater particularly, I taper using the "fingertip moustache" technique in other words twist it into a taper.

Of course the quality of the PB I get is not what the guys north of the border can get regularly and good even hair patches don't require stacking as often if at all.

I've gone to transclucent synthetics for 'working' flies here in the northeast because bluefish, spanish mackerel, etc will clean you out of fancy flies in a few minute's time.

Just curious, what pattern are you referring to?

02-08-2003, 11:34 PM
Gee, here I thought it was all the fat those bears put on to keep warm. I guess I've been sorely wrong in my own personal stay warm in the Great White North ploy.

Seriously Fred, the stuff does not float.

02-09-2003, 05:49 AM
The following looks like a 'personal post' to me, but it was cut/pasted from another web site. fae

"The case against solar heated polar bears, with their black skin and fibre optic hollow hair is further substantiated by grizzely bear hair. I have a series of scanning electron micrographs comparing the hair of these two bears and they are very similar, both with the hollow medulla. A more plausible explanation might be insulation. Many of the artic mammals and high altitude mountainous mammals have hollow hair. For example, cariboo
hair has a hollow honeycomb structure, which not only gives good insulation for the cariboo, but some Inuit friends assure me, makes the warmest fur coats.

Marine mammal hair is of peculiar interest. It comes in many different forms. Sea Otter hair is the neatest. It is particularly sculptured, so much so, that it gives the impression of being able to zip lock together much like the barbules on a bird's feather. Since sea otters have very little fat, they rely heavily on a layer of air next to the skin for insulation. Much of their time is spent grooming and putting the air back.

If you watch them dive, you can see the air rising to the surface from under their fur. When you see the structure of the hair, you realise how the hair can form a light seal to trap the air. While sea otters have the reputation of having the densest fur, their cousins river otters, ferrets and mink have similar sculpturing to their hair.

For the past few years, I have been making scannning electron micrograph pictures of many different mammal hairs. One project was for comparison with hair found in the stomach of a dead transient killer whale washed up in British Columbia.

A juvenile gray whale died and was washed up on Second Beach in Vancouver about three years ago and when I went to pick up some whale lice for the SEM, I noticed it had individual hairs dotted sparcely around the front of its head. When I made scanning electron micrographs of the hair, it suggested a large medulla which might be filled with sensory neurons such
as in the smaller medulla of seal whiskers. But I can't be sure until I try transmission electron microscopy and look at the cellular structure.

Unfortunately, I have had no specimens. With the new field season coming, should anyone come across a beached animal which has just died, especially if it is a gray whale, would you please preserve a sample of any hair that you find and pass it on to me?
Many thanks

Dr. Elaine Humphrey
Biosciences Electron Microscopy Facility
University of British Columbia
6270 University Blvd

02-09-2003, 02:06 PM
Thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time to reply to my query. I'm tying the Polar Shimp, found on page 48 (pattern on page37) in Kent Helvie's Steelhead Fly Tying Guide. Some very interesting posts and site, thank you for sharing those with me. I have found I like to "sorta" stack the hair and then tie it in, tips forward, then fold back for the securest hold. However, this makes for an ugly large head, so I may try tying it in, tips back, and see if that gives me a secure enough hold and smaller head. Any other suggestions are most welcome! :)

beau purvis
02-09-2003, 08:28 PM
thats why you need to force it in between the two eye wires when you first tie it forward.also dont overdue the amount .beau

02-09-2003, 11:03 PM
A lot goes a long way, especially if you use the 'guard hairs.' With what this stuff costs (assuming you can get any) use every bit of it ... good thing is the average fly requires darned little.

beau purvis
02-10-2003, 08:28 AM
make sure you pull out the short underfur. not needed for wing and is the best for puting in a dubing loop for a great scragly body.beau

02-10-2003, 11:39 PM
Fly Gal,

If you use a spot of Fleximent on the tying thread before you tie in the Polar Bear (or any other hair wing for that matter0 you can tie it in conventionally and it will not slip or pull out. Just remember to put a coat or two of clear head cement on the head wraps 10 minutes or so after you finish the fly to seal the thread and get a nice glossy head.

And as Kush said, polar bear does not float. Also, when tying with it, tie a smaller bunch for a wing than you think you need, most people over dress the wing and it is not necessary. Pull out the underfur and save it because it works just right on smaller flies.

I never stack polar bear, bucktail, calf tail, artic fox, goat hair, or yak hair. All you need to do is sort of align the fibers in your fingers by holding the longest fiber near the tip and then pulling the shorter ones out of the bunch, last align the shorter one with the longer one and hold together. do this as many times as needed to get a fairly even bunch of hair.

By the way, my favorite polar bear hair comes from the mask or the upper leg because it is finer.