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
- What to look for when byuing... in Tie Better. Published April 12th 2013
- Buying Deer Hair in Tie Better. Published April 17th 2013
- Buying Dry Fly Hackle in Tie Better. Published April 22nd 2013
- Buying soft hackle in Tie Better. Published May 7th 2013
- Buying marabou in Tie Better. Published July 1st 2013
- Buying fur and skin in Tie Better not scheduled for publishing yet.
- Buying saddle hackle in Tie Better not scheduled for publishing yet.
Articles about material selection and cleaning
- Cleaning hair in Tie Better. Published December 28th 1995
- Cleaning fly tying material in Tie Better. Published October 25th 1996
- Selecting deer hair in Tie Better. Published February 10th 1997
- Washing your materials in Tie Better. Published September 3rd 2012
- Steaming your materials in Tie Better. Published September 25th 2012