What is up with deer hair bodies?

Matt Burke

Active Member
I've been trying to tie up some waller wakers and assorted skaters thinking, I'll keep trying for those summer runs while the weather lasts. But the ones you can buy have deer hair spun around the split wings tilting forward. Do you have to massage it into place or what. As far as shaping the bodies, I stumbled on a neat trick. I use a beard trimmer, but the area between the barb and the shaft still has to be done by hand. Anybody have an idea for resources? What about classes here in Seattle. God knows I have no class and can always use more.

You are on the right track.

Fly manufacturers use clippers to trim deer hair which speeds up the process and makes them look much cleaner. I tried for years to tie a perfect deer hair body with a razor and scissors but always failed to make them look as perfect as a shop fly. If you want to make your flies look perfect, that is up to you. The Waker will fish fine even if the body is fuzzier or rattier looking. Just be sure to pack the deer hair very tight so when you trim the hair you don't actually cut thread wraps. I use kevlar thread but I have to be careful not to use too many wraps or pull to tight.

Wait for the next Expo and maybe Dave Whitlock will give you a demo.


Active Member
Are you asking about how to get the wings right? On the Originals (Yes I did have the honor/pleasure of getting a personal lesson from Lani at a previous job) the wing positioning was handled with "goop". Good stuff. Awesome for gluing on eyes that won't be covered with epoxy. Also, use the curliest/softest calftail tips you can for the wings. Flexibility up high is important to keep it from "propelering"(sp) under the water's surface. As a last resort, tie moose turds. They aren't as stable, but they are a heck of alot easier to tie. :THUMBSUP
The Overlake fly fishing club hosts round table tying sessions, you may get involved and ask that it be a topic for coverage in one of the get togethers,
Earl Smith


Active Member
As has been mentioned, Lani and nearly all the folks who tie them well, use thinned Goop or Dave's Flexament (which is nothing but Goop thinned with toluene) put on half the wing length (from bottom to top) to hold them in position. Also, the wings get tied on first, then the tail, followed by tying in the deer (or moose or elk) hair for the body.

Another thing is the body is not spun in the traditional manner, it is actually only put on the top of the fly and not allowd to spin around the hook. This keeps the deer hair on the top and sides of the hook and of the bottom. This also help keep the wings positioned properly because it results in a body that is complete on the top of the hook, which helps push the wings forward to the proper tilt.

The trick to making it easy to trim the body and not cut off the wings, is to put ordinary scotch tape around the wings before the body is trimmed. Then tie in the moose "keel" after the body is trimmed. Followed by removing the scotch tape from the wings and putting the thinned Goop of Flexament of the wing bottom halves and the moose "keel".