April 07, 2010
Deeter: Fly Tying with Roadkill and Domestic Pet Hair
By Kirk Deeter
The price of fly tying materials can be pretty steep. So the frugal angler must be resourceful.
For example, last fall I watched a drake mallard make the mistake of flying too low and too slow in front of a UPS truck. The result was street pizza (of the non-edible variety)... but I got a good Ziploc baggie full of chest feathers, which now make great dry fly wings. Squirrels are fairly abundant roadside casualties where I live in Colorado. We have some black squirrels, whose tails make fine nymph dubbing... but you have to be quicker than the ravens, crows, foxes, and coyotes to get a really good specimen.
Domestic pets make great fly materials also. I have two dogs and a cat... the best fly tying resource of the lot is my Vizsla, named "Reba" shown here because she's a neurotic redhead. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Vizslas, they don't grow enough hair to clip with scissors, but if I rub my hand on Reba's back (which she never minds), I end up with little red stubble hairs stuck to my fingers. One evening as I was tying flies at the kitchen table, she came over to visit... I rubbed her back... noticed the stubble... just happened to have some 6/0 thread hanging from a hook in the vise and some dubbing wax nearby... and in 10 minutes or so, the "Hungarian Bird Brain" nymph was born. It's basically pheasant tail with a rough- dubbed fuzzy body, and it actually catches fish. Kinda cool too... a fly that combines the feather of the pheasant, and the fur of the dog that pointed it. But I only tie a couple every year. I wouldn't want Reba to get too cold.
I wonder what domestic pet would provide the best fly tying material...
And what roadkill is the fly tier's bonanza?