My Shove, Shave, Singe and Sand technique for the tightest deer hair bodies.
Probably the most frequent question I am asked at shows and demos is how do I get my small deer hair bodies so tight. Well heres my secret in full step by step tuition.
This is one of my very early patterns the deer hair pupa that was inspired by a meeting with the late Gary LaFontaine many years ago and his own deep sparkle pupa pattern. The first requirement for tight bodies is the correct deer hair.
Although I acquire most of my own spinning hair from late season hunting here in Norway the best hair I can recommend is the spinning hair from Natures Spirit and the natural roe deer hair from Veniard’s. The hair should be dense, straight with little under fur and fine well marked tips. Although the tips are not required for this pattern they are useful to have for sculpting nicely marked wings on others.
You will also need a hair stacker, a good hair comb, a Wilkinson razor blade, I specify Wilkinson because I have tried many cheaper blades over the years but it’s a false economy, I have found none that are as sharp and last as long. You will need a lighter and some fine sand paper.
Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.
Cut and clean a small bunch of deer hair by combing out all the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack this bunch not by the tips as usual but by the butt ends as shown.
Tie this bunch in just a little down the hook bend. Make sure that each wrap of tying thread is tight and doesn’t trap any hairs unevenly.
Repeat this technique with another bunch of hair.
Take a hair packer, the one I am using hear is a Brassie on larger patterns I use Pat Cohen’s Fugly packer. Place this over the hook shank and push and twist at the same time, you may need to hold your thumb and finger of your left hand at the rear of the hair so you don’t push it along the hook shank. This will pack the hairs tight into each other.
Once the required amount of body is covered with tightly packed deer hair, whip finish and remove your tying thread. Now comb the hair to release and free any hairs that may not be standing 90 degrees from the hook shank, this is important for perfect results.
Take a razor blade between your finger and thumb and bend it to the shape of the body and slowly push it through the deer hair from the front towards the rear of the hook. If you haven’t done this before take your time it takes a little practice.
The body at this stage doesn’t have to be perfect, just sculpt it to a basic body shape. You can use your scissors here too if you feel more comfortable using them.
Now take your lighter and carefully ‘singe’ the deer hair body, take your time or the whole thing will go up in smoke if you get too close and burn it! This will even out the whole body.
Take a piece of sand paper and carefully sand off the soot and smooth out any un-even parts.
The result should look something like this, and feel rather like a cork.
To imitate the gas bubble of the hatching pupa’s shuck I like to use Spirit Rivers UV2 Sparkle Yarn.
You only need a small amount of the yarn.
Split your tying thread and spin the yarn into a dubbing brush.
Wind the yarn to form a vail over the whole surface of the deer hair body.
Sin a little hares hear hair into another dubbing brush.
Wrap this on as a collar make sure that its spiky and buggy.
Whip finish and your deer hair pupa is finished.
As a note on fishing this pattern I find the most effective methods is in combination with a floating line and a heavy sinking leader. When pulled it will dive and float slowly up to the surface when you stop the retrieve, creating the desired affect of a ascending pupa.
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