Australian possum

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Richard Olmstead, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    Hans Weilenmann's elegantly simple "Material Girl" (http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/material-girl.85369/) reminded me of an experience a few years ago with "Australian possum."

    I had never tied with possum before, but was in New Zealand several years ago and went fishing with a friend from down there and he introduced me to possum as a dubbing for wet flies and nymphs.

    As it turns out, the species of marsupial that is commonly called "Australian possum" in the fly tying materials biz, is endangered and protected in its native home in Australia. However, it had been introduced into New Zealand some time ago and has become a pest there, and virtually all of the material for sale comes from New Zealand. It is also harvested for use in mixed blends of yarn for soft knit goods.

    So, I asked my friend, Steve, where I could pick up some fur to take home with me. We went down to the local fly shop in Christchurch, where the proprietor said all he had for sale were small packages imported from the U.K. (the fur is shipped in bulk from NZ to a distributor in the UK, where it is packaged and distributed to fly shops). I asked Steve where he gets his; he said "road kill" (the shop proprietor concurred, saying that he rarely sold this to locals). They also told me that there were two distinct color morphs, the common brown, and a rarer reddish-brown, which is uniformly favored by the locals, but rarely or not at all sold in fly shops.

    So, we went fishing for a few days. We kept our eyes out for recent roadkill, but didn't see any. I did see some very nice whole pelts for sale in gift shops where they sell knit goods made of wool/possum blend yarn, but they were expensive and much more than I would ever need. So, I was prepared to go home empty handed, when on the last morning in Christchurch, I was perusing a gift shop to find something to take home to my grandson, when I found some little stuffed animal kiwis made of possum fur, AND some were in the reddish-brown color morph.

    Voila! All the dubbing I'll need for a couple of bucks...
    Australian possum kiwi 5.jpg
     
  2. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Australian possum seems popular right now (used for the Posse Bugger that is a big hit in western Oregon)... what's the advantage over hare dubbing?
     
  3. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I think it is a slightly softer, finer texture than hare, but otherwise it is entirely interchangeable, I would think. Both seem to absorb water readily and both have a mix of guard hairs and underfur at roughly the same proportion (maybe fewer guard hairs in possum).

    Dick
     
  4. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    The amount of guard hair will depend on how it is processed. It can vary from the same proportion of hair to fur as the animal had originally to no hair at all.

    Its completely controllable in the process.

    TC
     

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