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Tying with Deer Hair - Part One: Hairwing Wullfs

Posted on January 16 2017

   I want to talk about choosing the right deer hair for tying Wullf flies.  First, not all deer hair is the same. It is sometimes not even consist for more than a couple of inches across the hide.  When you look at a deer hide you can see how it changes as you move from the belly, through the flank and across the back.  The best hair for tying wullfs is along the back bone while the best hair for spinning is along the flanks.  What determines which application a piece of hair is good for is dependent on the amount of flair is produced when tying thread is tightened around it. 
    For tying Wullf wings and tails you do not want any flair. A good place to start in choosing the right hair for wings is to to look at its color.  The darker the stem of the hair pieces the less it will flair. The hair will feel thinner and not very springy.  You also want to match the length of the hair to the size of the wing you will be making. Tying size 8 wings will use a longer hair than tying size 12 wings.  On a deer hide harvested in November when the hide is prime you will be hard pressed to find any hair short enough for wings on anything smaller than a size 8 wing. For smaller sizes I use hair from deer harvested in mid to late October.  Deer hair on these October deer hides is what we call "short and fine". 
    Another very important part of success in tying wings with deer hair is using the right thread for the job.  You should always use flat thread when tying wings that you do not want to flair.  Flat thread will have a broader surface in contact with the hair when you apply pressure thus creating less flair.  Some good flat threads are UTC Ultra thread and GSP.

The hair on the left is light in color and is spinning hair. Notice the hair on the far right is darker right to its base. When applying thread torque you want to stay away from the lighter colored base and stay closer to the dark upper part of the hair.  The darker piece  of hair in the middle of the picture is Moose body hair. I will talk about using Moose hair in a future post.

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