Working on my deer hair stacking skills

Shawn West

Active Member
I have spent all of my vice time in November working on my deer hair stacking skills. I am hoping to be comfortable with these skills by the time the 2014 NW Fly Tyer & Fishing Expo in Albany Oregon comes along in March. The fish can care less about the flaws I see in my work, but perfect practice makes perfect.

The ugly fly at 9 0'clock was the first hairbug I ever tied. I caught a small LMB with it and then retired the fly.

I am really happy with how the articulated fly turned out. Now I just need to duplicate that level of tying on a consistent basis. The following photos are shots individual flies.

Blended yellow and orange deer hair.


Articulated hair bug

Thanks for looking.




Active Member
Look out Mr Cohen,...that's high quality bugwork!

Question regarding blending: Do you blend in hand, stir in a large stacker or use some other method??

Thanks for sharing

Shawn West

Active Member
"Question regarding blending: Do you blend in hand, stir in a large stacker or use some other method??"

I pre mix the hair on my tying table, then throw it in a stacker and mix it using my bodkin. Pat Cohen makes it look easy mixing it in his hands. I usually just make a mess when I use his method. Pat is one of my inspirations for stacking hair. He definitely sets the bar high.




Active Member
Thanks for the reply. I have a magnum stacker (Helm) which should be suitable when I get the urge to try. I can see where hand mixing could be a plus when tying the biggest flies, but I could only imagine the mess I'd make. Actually, I make one anyhow.
I knew I recognized the work as soon as the first picture loaded on my screen!!! GREAT TIES!!! You may not remember me, but I met you at the 2013 Fly tying Expo in Albany Oregon. I was there supporting my battle buddies with Project Healing Waters. I watched you tie up an awesome, green and yellow dear hair popper, and once you completed it you gave it to me. It is currently mounted above my fly tying desk like a trophy back in the states. I have since then tried to mimic your work stacking deer hair but usually end up with what looks like something a cat hacked up.. I hope that I will be able to make it back to the Albany show in 2014 but only time will tell. Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to seeing more of it here on the website… And maybe if your up to it a few SBS videos would totaly rock!!!!


Indi "Ira" Jones
Yep, good thing the fish can't see all those mistakes in your work, what a hack job! In case you didn't recognize it, that was my feeble attempt at sarcasm.
Let me get this straight... You're "trying" your hand at Deer Hair? :rolleyes:

Those suck. You should send them to me, and I'll fix them for you. Oh, but I'm not sure that you'll get them back in such "terrible" shape, as they clearly are now. :p


livin' the dream
-the flaws in your work??

my bugs look like colorful diarrhea compared to your work! really good looking ties, well done

Shawn West

Active Member
WOW!!! Thanks for the kind words. It looks like I need to clarify something. I have been working with deer hair for about 25 years. I have never felt a need to stack different colors when tying my bugs. I have dabbled in stacking colors in the past, but the results were not that great. I decided at the Albany show last year that I would try to perfect my stacking of colors for the 2014 show. I am happy with the results, but I see room for improvement. I am not sure if my work will measure up to the work of Pat Cohen or Mike George, but setting high goals will only make me a better tyer.

James...I remember you well. I can not put into words how much I appreciate the sacrifices you, as well as the other men and women in our military, make for our freedom every day. I would love to post a few SBS videos if they would be useful. I just need to figure out how to do it as well as get my hands on a high definition camera. I am thinking of bringing an additional vice to Albany so that if someone wants to give tying a hair bug a try...they can.

Thanks again for the kind words. I look forward to seeing you all in Albany.


Fine work!

You hardly need worry about showing those at the Expo.
But don't let that stop you from trying to improve. It is
what keeps the exercise interesting.


If I was you, I'd just toss them in a box somewhere and move onto to something else, the glaring mistakes are just too much :):)

I hate you guys and your clipped hair patterns. All the ones I've tried end up looking like they have a bad hair day.

Seriously, you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to demonstration tying at the Expo in Albany... except maybe me. I may show up just to point out all the overtly obvious errors :D
I'm not tying this year at the Expo but I may show up just to harass the WFF members who are tying.

Damned fine work! It honestly doesn't get any better.