Every once in a while the subject of dying fly tying materials comes up. I don't think there is a cheaper, more effective way to dye feathers than with Koolaid.
Step 1. Wash the feathers in a warm water with a bit of dish soap (I use Dawn, it works on oil slicked birds
) to remove natural oils from the feather. Rinse in warm water.
Step 2. Mix one pack of SUGAR FREE
Koolaid per cup of hot water. For colors like Olive (Orange and Green) consult a color wheel on how to mix the base colors Koolaid comes in. Here are a couple links that show mixing. Interactive
and here More detailed
Step 3. Take a bad feather from the bunch or just a piece of one. Place it in the Koolaid mix and place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove the feather and rinse it. Note the color. If it is too light, add time in the microwave. Too dark, lessen the time.
Step 4. The larger the batch you intend to do the time may need to be extended the time a hair but be careful. This is extremely permanent. It can't be lightened up. Microwave your feathers to the time you found gives you the intensity you desire. You can do several batches in one mix, so don't worry about mixing a giant bowl that fits all of a chicken.
Step 5. Rinse the feathers in running water, temperature does not matter. Some people think you should put vinegar in the mix to color lock it but I have never had a fly last longer than the dye did so I see no point in wasting the vinegar.
Step 6. Lay the feathers out on an old towel or paper towels to dry. In hackle for feather wings, put them between two layers in the shape you want in the end and place a towel over the top for weight.
All of the blue in this fly was done with Koolaid. It was Raspberry Reaction.
I have done a lot of feathers this way. It works on fur but is hell on the leather. Bucktail does a great job of taking it but again the leather does not do well. Bucktail takes more time than feathers. You can by using clips just tip dye stuff also. I did white bucktail and did light blue tips to it for Clousers I was trying to get the more realistic Emerald Shiner look to. This was more for me than the fish.
I just did this fast so if I missed anything hop in and mention it. Also, there is a Koolaid dying color mixing chart on the web someplace. If anyone finds it please link it.
I just found this link and think it is worth putting in here. Kool-Aid Formulas and Photos for 135 Different Colors
Found one more; more color mixing
Kiwi Lime comes out Chartreause. That's a good one to make note of.