I need help identifying old materials

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by ComeOnSounders, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. ComeOnSounders Member

    Posts: 62
    Ratings: +17 / 0
    So I'm new to the fly tying game and I'm hooked. Big time. I've been fortunate enough to have been given some old fly tying materials. I've been having pretty good luck sorting through all of it and figuring out what everything is and what will be usable. Some of it I've been able to google and identify, and others I'm having a harder time. I was thinking this would be a good place to find some help and save me some time guessing. So here's a pic of some of them. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  2. Mike Cline Fly Fishing Guerilla

    Posts: 60
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Left to right:

    Badger, moose mane, squirrel tail, deer, deer, badger, badger

    I may be off on the first or last 2.

    The first could be opossum fur
  3. ScottP Active Member

    Posts: 633
    Ratings: +882 / 0
    I think the last 2 are fox fur; I agree with Mike on the others.

  4. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,165
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,685 / 0
    I also believe the last two are fox and there is a possibility the first one is raccoon... but I'm just going by photos in tying material catalogs.

    I don't use badger or raccoon... both are mean critters and don't like to be shaved....
    Teenage Entomologist likes this.
  5. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,239
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,030 / 1
    I'd call the first coon and the last two badger.
  6. ComeOnSounders Member

    Posts: 62
    Ratings: +17 / 0
    Thanks guys!

    Couple more questions. Will some materials get to old to use? What are the rules on older polar bear? When did laws start prohibiting it in the US, and is it okay to have some that was obtained prior to the current laws?
  7. Teenage Entomologist Gotta love the pteronarcys.

    Posts: 653
    Red Bluff, CA
    Ratings: +216 / 0
    Most materials last for quite a while, but some get frail and can break easily. Just buy new materials every year or so.
  8. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 550
    E. WA / N ID
    Ratings: +105 / 0

    I have friend who has given me materials whose lifetime is probably measured in decades and they work fine. I started about 20 years ago and everything I still have works fine. The biggest problem with anything that was once alive is bugs. I store all of that stuff in their own plastic bags placed in sealed plastic totes, and I put about 1/2 of a flea collar in each tote. Always quarantine any new stuff you get to make sure it is free of bugs and does not contaminate the rest of your stuff. I learned the hard way. I bought a jungle cock cape from a shop with an excellent reputation and went to use said cape a couple months later and it was full of worms. Also lost part of another jc cape that I had in the same bag.

    regarding polar bear, better just give it to me to be safe! I doubt the powers that be are going to go door to door busting fly tyers, but I would not advertise it either. I have some but it came with the necessary paperwork :) .
  9. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,165
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,685 / 0
    I put pieces of cat flea collar in with my tying hair and it's lasted for years... fact is, none of it shows any worse for wear and I've had the stuff for decades.

    Polar bear is a bit dicey. As I understand it, you can buy it in Canada (last I heard) but I don't know the rules about bringing it into the US.

    A shop in Salem once sold the stuff and the owner said he could because it was cut from a polar bear rug. Now... I have no idea if it was or not.... a polar bear rug??? The owner of the business at the time was known to sell exotic materials that he kept behind the counter.

    I may or may not have purchased a strip of the fur... :D

    To tell you the truth, I don't find polar bear to have much advantage over the new synthetic materials you can legally buy. Originally, fly tiers like the fur for the shine.
    The synthetic fur has just as much shine so I see no reason to track down polar bear fur.

    Blue Heron is another tricky one. It is illegal to own. The "road kill" excuse won't fly with the feds.

    I remember a well-known outdoor writer tying spey patterns with blue heron at the expo in Albany. I don't think I'd risk it myself. He may as well have been using bald eagle feathers...
  10. ComeOnSounders Member

    Posts: 62
    Ratings: +17 / 0
    Thanks everyone. I hand't thought too much about bugs. Good to know. Regarding the polar bear I just won't take it and forgo the worries. I appreciate everyone's help!
  11. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,239
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,030 / 1
    If the polar bear is prior to (some date) it's ok to own. Shoot, I've bought polar bear in fly shops but then gas was probably 40 cents a gallon.
  12. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,494
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 0
    It is tough to tell what materials are from photos, as others have pointed out. The two patches in the middle might be deer, as someone suggested, but they might also be elk. I'd venture to guess on elk, over deer, simply by comparison to the squirrel tail for scale. Deer and elk hair have similar uses, with elk often being longer, so better for larger flies of the same pattern that you might use deer for the smaller size flies.

    My first guess on the left-most patch was raccoon, but I'm not very familiar with badger.

    While the last two might be fox or badger, they might also be coyote.

  13. Jaydub Member

    Posts: 33
    McMinnville, OR
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    I may or may not have as well. The owner of said shop ended up getting busted in a sting.

    You can purchase polar bear in Canada but, like Cuban cigars, you aren't supposed to bring it back into the USA. Legal polar bear, that can be proven to be pre-ban, shows up once in awhile. Spirit River was hawking some at the fly tyer's expo a couple of years ago. It was something like $80 for a little piece.
  14. flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

    Polar bear has to be pre-1972 to be legal in the US. You have to have documentation for it. You still can by polar bear in some shops, even locally, but it is about $20 for a square inch. Totally worth it imho, but expensive!

    I was once asked what the best substitute for polar bear was... my answer was and still is "polar bear".. same for JC (Jungle Cock nails)!!
  15. FT Active Member

    Posts: 1,242
    Burlington, WA
    Ratings: +102 / 0
    For polar bear to be legal in the US you need one of the following:

    1) Proof that it was brought into the lower 48 prior to January 1, 1972. Proof means a bill of sale with a date prior to January 1, 1972, a taxidermy invoice or bill dated prior to January 1, 1972, a certificate from the US Wildlife Service stating it was brought to the lower 48 prior to January 1, 1972.

    2) If brought it after January 1, 1972 you need a certified copy of the US Wildlife Service permit granting permission for it to be brought in to make a rug, a skin mount, or a head mount.

    If you don't have one of these items to prove it came into the lower 48 after January 1, 1972, it is illegal to posses in any fashion. Any small amount that you possess in your home, garage, shed, storage unit in your name, your vehicle, tent, fly box, etc. is illegal to have without the proof mentioned above. And if you have any, including just one fly that has polar bear for the wing, you can be arrested, charged with a federal crime, sentenced to 10 years, and be fined up to $10,00.00 for each piece you have.

    The bottom line: If you don't have the proof, you don't want to have it anywhere near you. Likewise, if someone selling it doesn't have the documentation mentioned above and is not willing to give you a certified/notarized copy of the documentation, you don't want to go anywhere near it. There are folks who thought they could just go up to BC or Alberta and bring some back because it is legal in Canada only to get caught at the border or some other place and end up being fined into bankruptcy and/or end up in a federal prison all over a little bit of polar bear. It isn't worth the risk.

    The best substitute for polar bear is Mountain Goat, not Rocky Mountain Sheep, but Mountain Goat. Mountain Goat is semi-translucent and has some of the same fiber-optic like light transmission of polar bear. Unfortunately, Mountain Goat is not easy to find because there are very few hunting permits given out annually and almost all the lucky hunters who manage to get one, mount the head and have a rug or skin mount made out of the hide. However, if you know someone who has genuine Mountain Goat who is willing to part with some, buy it and use it as a polar bear substitute.