Hair Stacking and Other Applicable Stuff

Deer, Elk, and Moose hair

Understanding hair
Hair scales
Deer, Elk and Moose
Calftail and Bucktail
Hand stacking
Uneven stacking
Cleaning hair
Selecting hair
Stacking hair from animals of the Cervidae family often presents a unique problem. These animal's hairs are usually unidirectionally curved to lay on the animal. (All such animals have swirls of hair over their bodies, but for our purposes we will consider it unidirectionally curved for the amount required in a single fly.) Once stacked, these curved hairs have a mind all their own: some hair will lay along the edge of the stacker, some will point right, some will point left, and some will point up. Because of the multi-direction of the tips the hair may be misaligned as the clump is removed from the stacker. Special handling is called for.

If possible, select hair to be stacked that only has a moderate curve. The more profound the curve, the more difficult to stack. Stack according to the description under the subheading, Stacking, to the point of removing the hair from the stacker to be applied to the fly. Now we must deal with the multidirectional curvature of the individual hairs. With the clump extending just out of the bottom of the top tube, gently roll the hair between your thumb and index fingers allowing the hairs to align. With the hair still in the top tube, make a final stack against the palm of your hand, a 3"x5" file card, or some similar surface that you can hold up to the bottom of the top tube. (I prefer to use the palm of my hand.) This evens the hair once again, but now with a uniform curve. (Note the illustration.) After aligning the tips by hand into a uniform curve, you can attempt to restack with the top tube once again in the bottom tube, but the results are usually not satisfactory. The more extreme the natural curve in the hair, the more fruitless the effort will be.

With curved hair there are other considerations. Perhaps in your fly's application it does not matter what direction the hair takes on the finished fly. Perhaps a tidy curve is not even appropriate. Perhaps you don't care. If such is the case there is no need to worry about rearranging the tips into an even, natural curve, but extra care must be taken when removing the multidirectional clump from the stacker to avoid misaligning it. Perhaps the hair that fits your need is so curved that it demands some adjusting of the tips. With such hair the process described above resolves the problem. There is, though, another quick but temporary solution for solving the curved hair problem. After cutting the clump from the skin and before stacking, bend the curve out of the hair with your fingers. This bending/straightening process expedites stacking immensely. Initially the hair will look straight on the fly, but once the fly is exposed to steam, humidity, or water, the natural curve of each hair will once again return, and in whatever direction they ended up being tied in at.

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