Tips for selecting deer hair

Different hair types - Different types of deer hair can be used for different purposes

Hide chart
Hair textures
Hair types

The author

Here is a selection of the most commonly available tying hair from animals in the deer family. Each type has its characteristics and are suitable for separate types of flies.





Hair from Suitable for
Caribou Probabaly the best hair for Irresitables. Generally a short somewhat short hair, white to gray in color.
Moose body Very stiff, not suited for spinning. Makes excellent tails on dries, feelers for nymphs. Runs from very short to long
Moose mane Very long (3-8"), not suitable for spinning. By wrapping a black and a white hair, this hair makes beautiful mosquito bodies. Just soak in water before using. Also useful for long tails.
Mule deer Excellent spinning hair. Ends to be a little shorter than whitetail hair, also is not always straight. Very light gray to off white in color. Suitable for to dyeing.
Texas Whitetail Very fine texture, short to medium in length, excellent for Comparaduns, tails. Dark to light in color.
Coastal deer A little heavier than Texas Whitetail but not suitable for spinning. Excellent for tails, Comparaduns, wings.
Antelope An excellent spinning hair but susceptible to breaking under modest thread pressure. Soak in water before using - this will reduce breaking hair. Rocky Mountain Dubbing uses a process which eliminates the breaking problem. Excellen for dyeing.
Sitka Whitetail Similar to northern whitetail, but with more distinctive markings. Good for muddlers, hoppers, caddis and hair bugs.
Elk Tends to be very dense, will vary in length form very short to extremely long (3-4"). Cow elk rump hair is excellent for spinning. Bull elk rump tends to be a little stiffer. Short hair (3/4-1") is excellent for elk hair caddis. Because the hair can vary so much on any given hide, close inspection is necessary to determine the uses for any particular piece of hair.
Dall sheep A very dense, white hair that is similar to caribou in texture, sof but spins well. Best suited for small spun dry fly bodies.
Impala A very fine, short hair suited for tails on dry flies from size 16 and smaller. Hard to find, usually stocked by Orvis.

Chris Helm's shop carries high quality hair of almost all types.
White Tail Fly Tieing Supplies
7060 White Tail Court
Toledo, OH 43617
Fax: (+01) 419 843 2106

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User comments
From: mike garland · mikegarland1978·at·  Link
Submitted September 30th 2007

was wondering if you have any tips on bleaching and dying caribou hair, reciepies for dye baths etc. Have been trying to find fluorecent blue

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