Published Apr 13th 2013
What to look for when buying bucktail, a cheap and easily acessible and very useful fly tying material
Bucktails are available in natural colors (white and brown) as well as almost any dyed color you can imagine.
When buying a bucktail, always get it out of the bag to inspect it. You are looking for nice, uniform, straight, soft hair. Depending on your use you might want finer and softer hair (traditional streamers), or coarser and longer hair (pike/saltwater flies). The longer hair sits on the sides and tip of the tail, and can be seen best from the back, while the shorter and more steeply tapered hair is in the center front and top of the tail.
Make sure you see no broken tips on the hairs. The tapered tips are what's use in far majority of bucktail flies, and broken tips means that you will have to sit and remove single hairs once you have picked and/or stacked a bunch. The broken tips can also be a sign of a dry tail, which has been stored for a long time, and is getting brittle.
You want a flat and symmetrical skin and no curled parts - neither on the skin side or in the hairs. The hairs might be saved with washing or steam, but the skin is hard as wood, and not easy to straighten.
Bucktails are very prone to dirt (consider their placement on the animal!), so make sure you lift the hairs and check for patches of "mud" on the skin. Some of it can be washed off, but it's of course better and easier to buy skins that are clean from the outset.
Articles in this series about selecting and buying material
- Buying marabou. Published July 1st 2013
- Buying soft hackle. Published May 7th 2013
- Buying Dry Fly Hackle. Published April 22nd 2013
- Buying Deer Hair. Published April 17th 2013
- Buying Bucktail. Published April 13th 2013
- What to look for when byuing.... Published April 12th 2013
- Buying saddle hackle not scheduled for publishing yet.
- Buying fur and skin not scheduled for publishing yet.
Articles about material selection and cleaning
- Steaming your materials. Published September 25th 2012
- Washing your materials. Published September 3rd 2012
- Selecting deer hair. Published February 10th 1997
- Cleaning fly tying material. Published October 25th 1996
- Cleaning hair. Published December 28th 1995