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John Desjardins 01-02-2004 09:42 AM

Deer Hair ?
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I was triming a few deer hair bugs last night and noticed a pattern to them that I haven't in the past. What I noticed was that while the backs were well packed, the part by the hook eye was not. The picture below shows what a typical bug. I don't think that I could fit any more hair on the hooks, but wonder how to tighten up the front 1/2 of the fly. Any suggestions on technique?

Dble Haul 01-02-2004 09:55 AM

Two questions:

Do you perform a half hitch after each bunch of hair is tied in and spun and packed?

Do you cement the half hitch?

If neither one of these are done, then the packed deer hair may start to creep up the shank as the fly is tied, resulting in an eventual loss of tightly packed material.

The only other thing I can say is, if you think you can't fit any more hair on the hook, use your packing tool and fit some more.

You're probably already doing these things, but that's all I can really think of off the top of my head.

John Desjardins 01-02-2004 10:03 AM


Originally posted by Dble Haul
Two questions:

Do you perform a half hitch after each bunch of hair is tied in and spun and packed?

Yes, a double half hitch and then push it back some more.

Do you cement the half hitch?
Never, I always end up with a bigger mess if I do that.

Packing tool, Hmm, maybe I should try something other than fingers.

Thanks Mark.

FrenchCreek 01-02-2004 12:28 PM

Buggy Stuff!
John, that is a good looking bug. It looks like the body is shaped in a round shape, I can't tell if the bottom is shaved flat, a preference of mine.
It is also has a cone shaped body, so think of a bicycle wheel, the spokes near the hub are tighter than the same spokes near the tire! So it appears that the bug hair is not as tighthly packed at the front end because the hair is longer.
I don't know if this will help, I assume you already do all of this.
1- Use hair that is consistent is size (diameter) and length for the various segments of the bug. But also see below for variations.
2- Trim the hair the same length after clipping it off the skin, say one inch for most bugs. Trim some off the back end (coarser) as well as the fine front tip (thinner). This will give you a consistency in the bug as the hair is bent while spinning. Pick a coarseness that best suits the bug you are building. It takes different cuts if the bug is longer, wider, shaped etc. and I often vary the cuts on the same bug depending on the final shape I'm going to build.
3- Try alternating/experimenting with different hair from different patches as you build the bug, some times a thinner hair is used on the back end, coarser in the middle, and medium in the front ( or any variation of this depending on the bug you are building and the float characteristics you are looking for)
4- Think your bug through before spinning. The bug you show has a feather tail, lighter when dry but it will get heavier as the feather get wet, so I would use a medium coarse hair at the tail as it will pack tighter and offer more float, I would use coarse for the middle and thin for the front. If it had a rubber hackle tail or a
synthetic fish hair tail, then I would vary my "recipe".
ALWAYS check the "character" of the hair when you buy it, look for those subtle differences that you can use when building the bug.

DFix 01-02-2004 03:29 PM

Great looking pattern.

Before fancy packing tools were marketed, things like buttons, shotshells with the primer removed, old worn out 24k gold pen barrels:hehe: were the items of choice for burying more deer hair in itself.

From Ming:) To cement the tieing thread, pick up a dot of cement on the end of your needle bodkin and place it on the hitch(es).

Also, what Pete said about using different hair consistency is important. Remember the tail tip is far softer and more pliable than the tail shank.

flytyer 01-02-2004 03:35 PM


The best way to tighten up the hair at the front of your fly is through using a hair packing tool of some sort because it is nearly impossible to get enough pressure with finger tips alone to pack it tightly at the front of the hook. You will notice that when the hair is packed tightly at the front, the hair will be flaring toward the hook eye and will have to be pulled back out of the way to finsh the head.

Also, using something like Fleximent on the thread after each bunch is flared and packed will both prevent the hair from sliding on the hook, and make for a much more durable fly as well.

John Desjardins 01-02-2004 08:57 PM

Thanks all. Lots of good suggestions to try out. I'll post a pic after trying them out.

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