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Thread: Bucktail

  1. #1
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    Default Bucktail

    How to determine which Bucktail to buy? What to look for? How should if feel?
    I have seen some in a clearence bin before.
    This would be for S/W flies.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Hi Jay,

    A fellow salt guy will no doubt reply but I have never given much thought to buck tails. They all seem to be fairly homogeneous in the texture and length of the hair. I would say get big ones for salt flies.

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    The best bucktails have long straight fibers. They should not be limp. Keep in mind that those usable fibers will come from the middle of the tail.

    There are some smaller bucktails in clearance bins or on tables at fly fishing shows. These are from younger bucks. I was told by one source that there was an overabundance of deer in one region, so there were cullings of some herds. These smaller tails are usable, but there aren't as many usable fibers as there are on a tail from an adult.

    MP

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    The hair should be soft and not at all brittle- it shouldn't break off when you bend it. The tips should all be tapered and fine, not blunted off. AND MAKE SURE THERE IS NO SMELL... there was a fantastic post here a month or so ago about what happens when you buy a smelly bucktail

    Check the skin to see if there is a lot of fat left on it- if there is, it may go rancid on you if kept for any length of time, or if its exposed to high temperatures. And naturally, make sure there are no bugs or 'nits' in it (egg casings).

    It's not a bad idea to wash a bucktail when you buy it, especially one that hasn't been dyed. Use warm water and a liquid detergent like Dawn. Wash it a couple of times, then rinse it well in cool water. If you have an extra toothbrush sitting around, running this through the hair may remove some extra underfur. Blot the tail dry, then place on a pad of paper towels and newspaper and allow to dry at room temperature. If you have a ceiling fan, place the tail hair side down on the paper and put the pad under the fan. You shouldn't need to treat the skin after doing this, but if it remains tacky, you can make a mixture of table salt and baking soda and apply this to the skin.

    And as always when introducing new materials into your 'collection', bag it (once COMPLETELY DRY!) independently, write the date and source of the material on the outside of the bag and check it every month or so for signs of any insect activity.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Ard, you say try and get the big ones. I take this to mean hair lenght.
    Most flies will be tied on a #2 to 1/0. A 1/o being typically 1-1/2" overall.
    Stimmy thanks for some great info. A friend gave me a tail that has been died that came from a local shop that has a slight odor to it. Looks great to me.But then this is why I ask these questions. I do have it in a seperate zip lock.
    Yes that is a great story by Allan,to funny.
    I still need to get a White one and a Black one. If I choose to buy on line who would carry a prefered product? Or is there a supplier name or type that that I should inquire about at my local shop?
    Thanks guys
    Doug/Seajay

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Seajay

    Funny you mention this--- I've been writing up a thing on bucktail to post on here--- coming soon. It'll cover what to look for when buying, and a couple of different techniques for tying with it.

    But here's some info.

    For tying on larger hooks for salt water, pike/musky etc, look for bucktails sold as "Salt Water length"-- they typically run around $5 or so-- a little more than the normal ones sold for around $4.

    The SW bucktails are longer in total length-- around 12-14 1/2" or so, and the hair length is longer-- tyoically 3 1/3-4" long. Regular bucktails are typically 9-10" long overall, with hair 3-3 1/2". You'll find the extra length of the hairs on a SW will come in handy on some flies, and of course you can always tie it in shorter for smaller flies.

    The hair at the base of a bucktail tends to be thicker and more hollow than the hair in the upper 2/3's. As a result the hair at the base has a tendency to flare under thread tension when you bind it to the hook shank like hair from the body or belly of a a deer used in spinning to make bass bugs and "muddler' type heads.

    If you are shopping for them yourself and have the opportunity to pick through them, look for long ones as opposed to short and squat ones, because the short and squat bucktails will have a great greater percentage of the thick hollow hair. The short squat ones also generally look short and squat because they have relatively short hair.

    Here's some pics that might help:

    On the left, a purple SW length bucktail, a "normal" chartreuse bucktail, and a short squat blue bucktail (to avoid):



    Here's a pic of the individual hair from each of those bucktails, with the hair from the purple SW bucktail 4 1/2- 5", the chartreuse normal bucktail 3 1/2", and the hair from the blue short and squat one 2 3/4 - 3"



    And here's a pic that illustrates how hair from different parts of the bucktail react under thread tension. At the rear of the hook some solid fine yellow bucktail from the upper 2/3 of a bucktail. Notice how it lays down flat with a minimum of flare. At the front of the hook, some thick, hollow white hair near the base of a bucktail-- notice how it flares under tension. There are ways to tame flaring hair with thread wraps and other methods, but this is a good example of how hair from the different parts of a bucktail behave.



    As far as where to get them, hopefully your local shop - if you're lucky enough to have one, will carry SW bucktails-- or will order them for you.

    I get mine from 2 places. Note that both sell both regular bucktails and SW length bucktails so you have to specify otherwise you'll get a regular bucktail.

    Chris Helm at www.whitetailflytieing.com Chris runs a one man operation with excellent quality materials-- he is THE MAN when it comes to all things deer hair. Excellent quality and service. Ordering is a little clunky because he doesn't have an e- commerce enabled website. But on the other hand, he has a 800 number and email and is very responsive--- and is extraordinarily helpful if you have questions. He's a pleasure to deal with. You can download his catalog as a pdf

    I also use www.waterflies.com Their site is more fully enabled so you can do the whole thing on line. They have a pretty good selection of SW tying materials. They are also very responsive and offer free shipping in the US.

    I'm sure there are a lot of other excellent sources out there, but these are the 2 I use for SW bucktail- in fact I ordered from both today .

    Hope this helps-- I'll post a bunch of techniques for tying with BT, and some examples of flies that use different techniques soon.
    Last edited by peregrines; 09-15-2010 at 09:38 PM.
    Mark

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Quote Originally Posted by seajay View Post
    Ard, you say try and get the big ones. I take this to mean hair lenght.
    Most flies will be tied on a #2 to 1/0. A 1/o being typically 1-1/2" overall.
    Stimmy thanks for some great info. A friend gave me a tail that has been died that came from a local shop that has a slight odor to it. Looks great to me.But then this is why I ask these questions. I do have it in a seperate zip lock.
    Yes that is a great story by Allan,to funny.
    I still need to get a White one and a Black one. If I choose to buy on line who would carry a prefered product? Or is there a supplier name or type that that I should inquire about at my local shop?
    Thanks guys
    Doug/Seajay
    I still have the #@+%* bucktail! I would be willing to part with it; for a good cause, of course.. ..

    Pocono

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Allan, I am a good cause. I need all the help I can get. Just ask my wife.

    What is the upper 2/3 of the tail mean? Is that from the tip or the smelly end?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Quote Originally Posted by seajay View Post
    Allan, I am a good cause. I need all the help I can get. Just ask my wife.

    What is the upper 2/3 of the tail mean? Is that from the tip or the smelly end?
    Upper 2/3 = from the tip, the solid finer hair that is more manageable under thread tension-- for your first flies take from this area just to eliminate one possible source of problems rather than down towards the....

    "Smelly End"= this has the hollow thick hair that tends to flare under thread tension.

    After tying with bucktail for a bit you'll be able to use different techniques and varying amounts of thread tension to tame unruly hair, and for some flies you might want hair that flares a bit so it's not like any of it will go to waste. There are even some uses for the brown hair on the "wrong side" of the bucktail -- especially for crabby/shrimpy looking flies used on the flats.
    Mark

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bucktail

    Quote Originally Posted by peregrines View Post
    There are even some uses for the brown hair on the "wrong side" of the bucktail -- especially for crabby/shrimpy looking flies used on the flats.
    IMO The 'brown" hair on a dyed chartreuse tail is a nicer color "olive" than any olive dyed tail I've seen
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

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