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Old 02-02-2014, 04:11 PM
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Default Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

I am still a novice tier. I signed up for a beginning flytying class at the local flyshop. It's 6 Tues nights for a couple of hours at a time. The first week I was traveling for work and the 2nd week we had a snowstorm so I finally got to my class this past week. It's the first time doing it and I really enjoyed it. As it is a beginner class, we tie standard stuff. We tied the bucktail which I think I have gotten pretty good at this weekend. We will see what happens whe they check my homework this Tuesday.

We tied a clouser minnow using calf tail instead of bucktail. I am doing my homework on this one as well and don't seem to be able to handle the calf tail as well. I struggle a bit to get it to tie down smoothly at the front? Is there a different way to handle calf tail?

I pulled out a DVD that I bought a while back and watched it last night. The Compleat Clouser by Bob Clouser. Neat DVD and it showed some alternative materials to tie Clousers with. I guess I have a few more things to pick up at the flyshop this week!

Keith
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

Hi Keith,

I don't tie Clouser flies but if you are having trouble with the butt end of the hair when you bind it down try using less. We tend to want big bushy wings but the thick butt ends can be a problem. Plan B is to tie the wing in 2 small bunchs. After you have the first bound down position the butts of the second bunch just a tiny bit back from the butts of the first bunch. This will create a stepped effect that will allow you to bind and taper the ends with thread. If I know the pattern, this tying technique will not be a problem when you finish off the fly.

Ard
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

I would spend under ten bucks to get a white and chartreuse buck tails to tie clouser minnows. You could get buck tail pieces even cheaper.

The calf tail is just too short for tying minnows.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

Thanks for the suggestions. There was a grain of truth in both. I was certainly grabbing too much hair in a clump. I keep forgetting how sparse a Clouser is supposed to be. I checked out some pictures etc. and cut back on the clump and it went much better. Some practice certainly helps. I think the other thing was that I was trying to play with a Clouser as one of my first flies earlier this year and was tying on a 2/0 hook for the salt. They came out pretty bad. I was probably grabbing too much bucktail back then. In the class they had us use size 8 hooks and I didn't realize how much less hair it really needs. I tied some decent ones with calf hair on the size 8 and then used buck tail for a couple of them on the 2/0 hooks and compared sizes etc.

If it doesn't snow tomorrow, I will have the fly tying class and take in my homework. Hope the weather cooperates.

Ard....you said you don't tie Clousers. Have you ever? In my limited time in fly fishing it seems like Clousers are almost a rite of passage! That might be because I am just an hour from the Susquehanna River. The first weekend of March I should be at the flyfishing show in Lancaster and Bob Clouser himself will be there.

Keith
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:17 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

I almost ALLWAYS use calftail for the belly on my clousers. The shape of the fibers give the appearance of a chubby white belly without extra bulk. It also has a bit of sparkle to it. I shop for high quality, long fiber calf tails specifically for my clousers. Bucktail can be too straight and un animated on small clousers, The waviness of the calf tail seems to animate better in the water.
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:46 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

There's calf tail, and there's calf tail =) Some have relatively short and kinky hair; others have longer hair, which tends to be more "wavy". If you are buying them in-person as opposed to online, you can see what you're getting and select materials best suited to your application. And by cleaning the calf (kip) tails after you buy them, you'll get more manageable material. In addition, you'll be sure to rid them of any bugs, eggs or 'nits' that might be in them, which is something you'll REALLY appreciate in the long run.

To do this, you'll need some Dawn liquid dish washing detergent, some hair conditioner, a hair brush and a comb (I'd suggest you buy inexpensive ones you'll dedicate to cleaning materials...for the sake of domestic tranquility). Fill your sink with warm/hot water and squeeze some detergent onto the tail, rub it in well. Use your brush, and brush the tail with the grain to get the soap down all the way to the bottom of the hairs. Swish the tail around in the sink, and repeat the application of soap, brushing and rinsing again. Drain the water from the sink and rinse the tail under cool, running water to remove any remaining soap. Squeeze a SMALL amount of hair conditioner onto the tail and rub it in with your hands, then using your comb, comb it through the hair. Rinse the tail under warm, running water, to remove any remaining conditioner. Rinse well under cool running water.

Shake out any excess water, then place the tail on a pad of 3-4 folded paper towels and gently squeeze out any excess water remaining in the hair. At this point, you can either use a hair dryer set on low to "blow dry" the tail, or hang it somewhere that air can circulate around it until it's completely dry. You'll notice the hair is shiny, smooth, and clean and likely less kinky.

Once COMPLETELY DRY, place the tail/s in a ziploc bag, label them with the source (where purchased), the date, and any other info you might need about them. This way if you like the material, you know where to go back and buy it, how long it lasted you, and if by any chance it has eggs you missed in it, they will be contained to one bag, not spread to your other materials.

When you tie with calf tail, you grasp the hair close to the tail (by the butts), snip off a bunch, then slide your fingers down a bit towards the tips and "flick" your fingers against the bunch to get rid of any underhairs that make it more difficult to tie in a clump. Depending on what you're tying, you might use a hair stacker to even up the tips (like when you tie a parachute post, a trude wing, etc). If you're tying a streamer or clouser wing/belly, you generally want the ends less even, so no stacking required.

When you tie the hair in, take a loose wrap or two to secure the hair to the shank, then while holding the hair securely to the shank, pull your thread tight. At this point, you can cut the excess butt ends at a taper, which helps make a nice, smooth tie in. Some people will put a drop of head cement in the butts of the hair before finishing wrapping it down, but this isn't usually necessary.

Hope this helps... have FUN!!
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

Quote:
Originally Posted by paflyfish View Post
Ard....you said you don't tie Clousers. Have you ever? In my limited time in fly fishing it seems like Clousers are almost a rite of passage! That might be because I am just an hour from the Susquehanna River. The first weekend of March I should be at the flyfishing show in Lancaster and Bob Clouser himself will be there.

Keith
Hi Keith,

Ever since I was young I was so taken with the idea of tying and fishing feather wing streamers that I seldom tied or fished anything but. I've made my share of Muddler & Sculpin patterns but always relied on feather wings for fishing at least 99% of my subsurface time.

I've been hearing the name of the fly for at least 25 years or longer but when I first saw one I said, "That's not a streamer" and I never tied one. They certainly have caught a million fish and this I would never argue. I just like those fancy Nine Three's and Gray Ghost's too much to change.

I do tie and fish a lot of hair wings for salmon here but also still use a lot of feathers
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: Calf hair vs Deer tail for Clousers

As others mentioned, calf tails vary tremendously in quality for tying. Try to find the ones with longer hair and not the ones so crinkled they look like they got hit with a weed eater.

Caution -- calf tail will foul more easily than bucktail if it extends past the hook bend too much. Be careful of the hair length to hook length ratio.

I too really like a small #8-10 clouser tied with calf tail. I usually use bead chain, and pink/green calf tail.
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