Help with Dying Rabbit

Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
I am hoping that the multi talented Mr. McNeese might be willing to enlighten me. How does one dye strips and or a whole skin without shrinking the hide. Even cold dying seems to shrink and harden the hide. I would prefer not to have to do an entire skin as cutting the strips looks to be a royal pain.

Hey, I'm no Mr. McNeese, but am about to try some Kool Aid dying - there was an article on it in Fly Fisherman a few months ago.

I also have some whole rabbit skins, and I've heard that a great technique to cut them is to drill holes in razor blades, and space them on a long bolt, separated by nuts and washers to get the width you want. Stretch the hide, then drag the blades across - even cuts (or crosscuts). Sounds like a snap to me, but I haven't tried it yet.

I'll let you know how both go when I get around to it, unless someone else has already tried and can share their experience.

Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
Thanks for the info. I believe I saw the razor blade idea on another board. Maybe you posted ???
I have not played with the Koolaid thing. I can purchase all of the colors I use except an electric purple for which I have a semi-secret receipe.
With being able to buy 3 to 6 feet of dyed and cut into strips for between
2 and 3 dollars I can't see why one would go through the trouble. That's
just my 2 cents. Since most dye baths are acidified water what ever shrinkage would occur once fished anyway. You would just have to dry and work the skin back to its pre-dyed state.


Dave McNeese

One of the OLD guys
Hey thanks for asking! You must know how I love to talk.....and dye. I'll give you my whole routine and just pick out what info you need.

First you need a shallow pan (2" deep) at least a few inches bigger than the hide for your hot water/dye mix. Doesn't matter if the skin is whole or in strips. Personally, I use strips most of the time.

You also need a shingle or another piece of wood about 1" to 2" wide, 1/2" thick, and long enough for your strips. This is to tack your strips to, top and bottom. These wood strips will keep your hide in place all through the process until completely dry.

Make sure your hair/ hyde has been washing in Dawn detergent and THOROUGHLY rinsed.

Then all you do is hold onto the board with your fingertips, or an add a couple of nails, 1" apart if you don't like burned and colorful fingertips.

Submerse in the dye, for your desired time. Rinse it, and hang it up, LEAVE IT ON THE BOARDS to dry. This is the trick to keeping their size true.

If you're in a hurry, towel dry it and use a hair dryer, but don't remove it from the boards until skin is dry. Normally it takes 2 days for a skin to dry, but with the hair dryer it is only 1 day.

Of course you can improvise, like I had to once in Alaska. We dyed a bunch of white rabbit skins tied top and bottom onto branches with tippet material, and boiled them in a kettle over a campfire. :thumb: Left them to dry on their branches outside.

Commercial dyers tumble their skins with a medium like plastic bb's to keep them stretched out.


Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
Mr. Dave,
Thank you Sir !! Yes, I know at least some of you passions. I used to hang out with the likes of John Olshewsky and Glen Wilson, but kind of lost touch with them even though John lives just a few miles away. He was always very helpful in the fine art of fly tying.
Thanks again,