Flies that use muskrat?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Thom Collins, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Having spent yesterday evening tying a few traditional patterns, I have to concur that synthetic materials of many sorts are much easier to work with. Poly upright divided wings are a cinch, whereas paired duck primary sections upright and divided require a good deal of care in order to not split the fibers. Just one example. While the synthetics are easier to work with, I must say, they are not nearly as aesthetically satisfying in terms of the end result.
    Dave Evans likes this.
  2. I agree with this and prefer looking at old style flies over the new ties. Having said that some of the new versions last longer when fishing or float better.

  3. So true. For durable, quickly tied, utilitarian flies that I'll actually fish on a very regular basis, I will not be moving away from synthetics - though I must say, there are two things I never substitute synthetics for, because they lack the magic: peacock herl, and hares mask.
  4. I kind'a like my dry flies to float and synthetic dubbing has a tendency to float much better than some dead animal's fur :p
  5. I did some further research on materials I had on hand last night.

    The muskrat and beaver underfur both had very fine kinks or waves in them. I suspect this helps to keep the individual hairs from collapsing together and, thus, keeping air trapped among them. In contrast, the rabbit, squirrel, and dog (my dog, at least) underfur was more or less straight, or had long-amplitude waviness, such that it would be easy for the hairs to collapse against each other and clump when wet.

    I think the kinkiness of the beaver underfur I used to dub some dries last night was sufficient that it would not collapse as dubbed on the thread, and might retain its air-trapping quality.

    Unlike Gene, I've always restricted hare/rabbit and squirrel (mostly) to wet flies and have used muskrat and Beaver for dries. I tried dubbing with my dog's underfur once, but it was too long and slippery to dub well. Too bad; she sheds a ton of it, and it's a nice tan color.

    One other arcane fact. The same reference that described the air-trapping quality of semi-aquatic mammal underfur said that one exception was the water shrew, which has individual hairs that are hydrophobic. There was no elaboration on who this is achieved. Got any patterns that call for water shrew fur?

  6. Oh great. Now I gott'a start looking for road kill water shrew...
    Jim Speaker likes this.
  7. I've seen them. They're that flat blob on the road. Anything smaller than a muskrat looks like a frisbee after the first hit. Or... soak muskrat in fly floatant.
  8. In the fiber world the kinks or waves are referred to as crimp. Most of the worlds warmest fibers come from creatures living at high altitude or the far north where it is very cold and often windy, Alpaca, Cashmere Goat, Musk Ox and others. Those fibers tend to have the finest diameter (measured in microns) combined with the highest frequency crimp thus trapping the most air. It is the extra fine diameter and the high crimp count that also makes these fibers so soft and warm even after being spun and plied into yarn.

    Gary Knowels likes this.
  9. ADAMS_Display_FINAL1.jpg

    then disprove the discrepancy :confused:
  10. I don't have a problem with it. I use muskrat.
  11. Really? Go fishing.
  12. I don't care if the traditional Adams is made with muskrat or yarn... nowadays, I only use a parachute style Adams and I tie it with synthetic dubbing. Even then, it doesn't matter that much because once I switched from moving water to stillwaters, I primarily fish subsurface so I don't need no stinking Adams :p
  13. Oh, you blasphemous man.
  14. Got out late last week to my favorite north cascade river. Tied something that resembles a GRHE with an added bit of partridge for legs but used muskrat instead of hare's ear. Fifth cast of the morning brought a +20" dolly to hand. I'm sure most any properly presented nymph tied on that cast would have done the same but it was fun catching it on a fly crafted from several borrowed techniques with a material new to me. It also produced many of the expected 6" to 8" trout.
    Jim Speaker likes this.
  15. Wow!!! Nice!!!

    I was up on Denny Creek picnicking with my GF Saturday and caught small westslope cutts on: Montana Bucktail and Parmachenie Belle. So fun!
    Thom Collins likes this.

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