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sean 11-05-2002 01:25 PM

dyeing blue eared pheasant
Looked around the archives and I am sure this has been covered but oh well.

So I am tying enough speys where I figure getting a blue eared pheasant skin is something I am ready to do. I am thinking about dyeing some of it black and purple which should be OK colors. I hear you need to bleach it or use white eared pheasent to do bright colors.

So what reference materials are out there that talk about the dyeing process? Anyone care to share some secrets?



flytyer 11-06-2002 12:48 AM


Dying it black is not problem. Just get some Synthropol and good black acid dye.These are both available at University Book Store in Seattle so you should have no trouble getting them. Then put the feathers you want to dye into the dye bath made with about 1/4 teaspoon of black acid dye, a good dollup of Synthroprol added to the dye bath (it is both a degreasing cleaner and a dye dispersant, needed to get a good, even dye job) and about 2 quarts of water in a stainles steel pot of some sort. Heat the dy bath to about 140 degrees and add the feathers to it. They should be a nice, dark black in aobut 25 to 30 minutes. Take them out and risnse them with warm water untill the water runs clear and place them on newpaper to dry overnight.

To dye anything but purple, you will have to bleach the feathers white. The Radincitch book on tying classic atlantic salmon flies has a great charpter on dying and bleaching that was written by Ted Roebal, Ph.D. a dye chemist from Seattle. The book shuld be available at Streamside in Issaquah or at Kaufmann's, Avid Angler may also carry it, as may Swede's in Woodinville. It is about $60.00 give or take $5.00. Well worth the money.

Eugene 04-13-2003 10:28 PM

I found this thread with a search. I have a few boraxed ringneck pheasant skins and would like to dye one black and one purple. Will the method you mentioned above work with feathers on the skin?

flytyer 04-14-2003 02:48 AM


The answer is yes, it will work very well. All you have to do when dying on the skin (which is how I almost always do it with pheasants) is use less heat. You want the dye bath to be between 130 and 150 degrees to dye on the skin. Otherwise, you will damage the skin and the feathers will fall off. Also, don't forget to put some Synthropol (which is best) or clear Ivory unsented dish soap in the dye bath to keep the oils from the skin from impeding the dye. The Synthropol in the dye bath also prevents splotchy and uneven coloration.

Black and purple are easy to dye pheasant on the skin. If you aren't going to use the white ring-neck feathers, remove them (cutting the whole head off is the easiest way) before you dye the skins. I use these small white feathers to dye substitutes for kingfisher and Indian Crow feathers.

Eugene 04-14-2003 10:08 AM

Thanks a lot, Flytyer! This should be a fun addition to my fly tying obsession. My wife, however, may come to regret this new knowledge of mine...

flytyer 04-14-2003 05:26 PM


Just remember to use a good quality acid dye to dye your materials, and Veniards is not one of them. Veniards dye is fine is hot orange, hot pink, yellow, and kingfisher, in fact Veniards Kingfisher is my favorite blue dye. The other Veniards colors are too inconsistent from one batch to another because they are blends of dyes.

Use Fly Dye, carried by Angler's Workshop and available via internet. Another good place to find quality acid dyes is in craft stores that sell wool craft supplies. And use while venegar as the acid in your dye bath to set the dye. Put enough venegar in the dye bath so that you can smell it. And use about 1/4 teaspoon of dye to 2 quarts of water for the proper solution for all colors but black. For black, use twice that amount of dye (1/2 teaspoon) to get a good, deep black. Also, most black acid dyes are really a very dark blue black and if you want to have jet black, you need to overdye (put it in another dye bath of a different color after it has been dyed the first color) of red for a few minutes.

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