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Picking Deertails

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Just like with buying saddles and capes, not every deer tail is created equal. Color aside, there are a lot of different qualities of tails that need to go into consideration before you cut into your tail. Length, softness, and waviness are all characteristics of tails that will tell you how and when to use them. Don't be afraid to use multiple different tails, even if they are the same color, on one fly to maximize its use and attributes

One thing you hear, especially from saltwater tyers is that they want the longest hairs they can get. While having long tails is nice, its not always needed. Good long hairs above 6+ are hard to find, so when you get them keep them for something where you actually need them. If you know you need to cut the butts down, don't use that tail. For example, when I'm tying long hollow flies like beasts, my tails sections will use my long hair and ill use much shorter hair, as to not waste the long stuff. Good shorter tails are easy to come by. Good long ones not so much. Don't be afraid to buy a good short when when you find it, they have just as much value to the tyer as the long one.

If you've ever tied in a piece of hair that flares like deer body hair, then you know the value of a good soft tail. With good thread control, stiff tails are fine for things like tail sections, clousers, and half&halfs, but terrible for things like hollow tying and deceivers. Stiff tails can also be very useful as material stabilizers, if your planing on stacking some softer materials on top. With white tails, it's often easier to find soft examples, while with colors (especially black), it can take a little searching. One way I check tails is to pluck a hair and bend it in half. If it leaves a kink, its a pretty stiff hair. If you plan on tying hollow flies, softness is really important. I like to use minimal thread on these flies, so tails that I can completely turn over with just a few wraps of thread is really valuable to me.

The next thing to consider is waviness of your hair. As a general rule, I save my really wavy hairs for the heads of hollow flies. I find that these hairs stacked up in layers push the most water, and are typically soft enough to turn over easy. Straighter hairs, I prefer for tails sections, as they are more hydrodynamic and create a slick tail to help your fly swim more freely. 

A lot of the types of tails i mentioned have niche or particular use, and while I’ll never turn down a very long and soft deer tail, I do the most of my tying with what i call utility tails. These 3’’-4’’ average softness and texture hairs, cover the bulk of my tying and allow me to save my very long, very wavy, etc. tails for their niche purposes.

Here at Streams of Dreams, we are lucky to have a good inventory of Rumpf Saltwater Jumbo tails. These tails are really good quality, clean, and available in all different attributes. Of the dozens of tails we have, there isn't a bad one. Come in and check them out, or let us know what you're tying and we would be happy to help you pick tails that are perfect for what you're tying.

Tips...

-When buying tails, pull them out of the package and feel them before you buy.

- Store them dry. tails will get moldy and and can start to deteriorate and get stained. I store mine in a large plastic bin with a bunch of silica packets and cedar. Keeps them dry, safe and they don't stink as bad as ones I've left in bags.

-When cutting hair, pull the length you want from the tips of the hair first. Just because you have a long tail doesn’t mean all the hairs are long. To avoid wasting these hairs, use this technique to only select the length you want, and save the rest.

- label your tails. Have something that you bought for a niche purpose? just take a sharpie and write what it is on the flesh so you don't use it for something wrong by mistake.


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