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Skilly 12-04-2003 06:24 PM

Dye,,,, for Calf tail. where to buy ?
I need to find a place that sells dye that will dye calf tails. I now have a selection of them that are not quite the color I need. I need orange, red and purple.


t_richerzhagen 12-04-2003 06:48 PM

PM flytyer
he will be able to tell you what you need to use.

speyflyfisher 12-04-2003 08:33 PM

Buy them predyed
At 4.50$ per tail already dyed, I just can't
see dying them. You can by Jacquard
acid dyes at

The Weaving Works
4717 Brooklyn Ave NE

If I remember correctly, they are just under 8$/color


Skilly 12-05-2003 09:52 AM

My problem is I ordered some, but they are not the right color. The 3 orange calf tails are all a different shade. One lighter than pumkin one about pumpkin and the other is almost a brown. I have several white tails that I accumulated over the years so I thought I would just dye them.


flytyer 12-05-2003 12:47 PM


Jacquard dyes are some of the best acid dyes available and ones that I use quite a lot. The Weaving Works also carries Synthapol, which is a cleaner/degreaser/dye suspender that will let you produce nice clean, evenly dyed materials. Depending on the color orange you want, Jacquard has several different shades: Fl. Orange is color # 606, which Jacquard calls Dark Orange. It will five a very nice, bright hot orange color.

Another excellent dye is known as Fly Dye and it is made by Organic Dyestuffs; but it is sold in 1 once containers for fly material dying and uses common fly tying color names for the colors. A quick internet search for Fly Dye will get you theri web site.

When dying, use about a 1/8 teaspoon of dye to a quart to a quart and a half of water that is not quite boiling and make sure you use a stainless steel bowl, pan or pot to prevent the dye from reacting with the dye pot, which would change the color or create blotchiness. Add the dye to the water then put some Syntrapol (about a 1/4 teaspoon) into the dye solution. Lastly, add a cup or so of white vinegar as the acid for setting the dye. Put your tails or whatever hair or feathers you wish to dye in the above described dye bath and let them steep in it for about 15 to 20 minutes to thoroughly dye them. Once they are the color you wish, simply dump the whole thing into an old colundar and rinse with luke warm water.

Dry the tails (or hair or feathers) by laying it out on newspaper overnight or through using a hand-held hair dryer.

speyflyfisher 12-05-2003 09:04 PM

orange buck tail

I have another thought about a way to get the color you want. I noticed that
anglers work shop sell them for 3.25. You
could call and arrange to send them a sample of the color you want (say a hackle feather to match) and if they can
supply the color you want , go a head and buy it. You could try any of the larger mail order suppliers. One word of caution about dying, It is hard to get the exact color you want or to recreate the same color twice.
On a seperate note, most dyes are toxic. Don't use pots or strainers that you intend to use for food again.


Skilly 12-06-2003 10:02 AM

I appeciate the help. I will try it on the ones that I have. I understand the difficulty of trying to get the right shade. When I was flying RC airplanes I used to dye the canopies all the time. I used Rit dye to do them, but the Rit dye didnt do anything to the calf tail I tried.

Thanks again

flytyer 12-06-2003 08:31 PM


Despite the misconception that a lot of folks have about the difficulty of getting the same color or good color saturation when dying your own materials, it is really very easy to get the shade you want and to reproduce it at will. The use of good quality acid dyes and putting Synthrapol in the dye bath are the two main keys to getting the color you want and being able to reproduce it whenever you wish. To check the color of the dye bath, simply put a small piece of a paper towel in the dye bath, dry it with a hair dryer, and voila, you know what color you are going to get with a quality acid dye. And the Synthrapol (a dye disperant that makes the dye evenly dispersed throughout the dye bath as well as a detergent to keep oils from preventing the dye penetrating the material) is needed to prevent uneven dye penetration and streaking of color.

AS you have already found out, RIT is not a good dye for hair and feathers. Before someone takes me to task for making the last statement, I am aware that there are many who use dye and that A.K. Best recommends using RIT in his book on dying. And yes, you can use RIT dye and get an acceptable dye job; however, you have to use a lot of RIT dye to get consistency in color (this is because it is a so-called union dye that can be used on proteins and cellulose and polypropolene and nylon and polyester, which means it is composed of several different types of dye). And RIT does not give you the nice bright colors that steelhead and salmon fly tyers are looking for.

Another reason many folks think dying is difficult and hard to reproduce the color is because they have used Veniard's dye (yes, I know that A.K. Best talks about using it in his dying book) and with very few exceptions (hot orange, kingfisher blue, scarlet, lemon yellow) all Veniard's dyes are mixtures of dyes of different colors. This causes problems with color consistency because there will be differing amounts of the various colors of dye any time you measure out some dye for use. And you cannot overcome this problem with shaking because some of the dye colors have different specific gravities that cause them to sink to the bottom of the container when shaken. Veniard's also combines acid dyes of different types to create some of their colors, and these different types have different melecular structure (some some, some medium, some large) that enter the material you are dying at differing rates, and this can and does cause uneven color saturation, streaking, and blotchiness.

Skilly 12-06-2003 09:33 PM

Great information !!! I am coming to the Seattle area after Christmas so I will run by the Weaving Works and pick up the colors that I want.
After 50 years of fly tying I finnaly decided to dye the tails I have left over. so I will have enough for the next 50 years :-)))

Thanks again

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