Dyeing with Wolves


Active Member
My GF is a talented expert in the art of using wild mushrooms and lichens to dye textiles (wool and silk mostly). While on a recent morel hunt I decided to collect some Wolf Lichen (Letharia vulpine) and try my hand at dyeing some fly tying materials.

Letharia vulpine

The method is pretty simple with this variety of lichen. Simply simmer equal parts dry weight materials and lichen in water until color is absorbed. No vinegar or mordant is needed for the process. I selected a variety of white feathers and fur from my supplies and added them to the pot with the lichen. Simmered for a few hours and then let cool overnight.



The results were pretty cool. My favorite is probably the grizzly hackle and the Icelandic sheep’s wool. The rabbit and sheep hides did not like the hot water treatment so I’ll utilize a different method next time. Maybe do a sun tea of sorts?


One of the weirdest things about the process is that the dye bath smelled like honey and filled my house with a sweet aroma that lasted for days. Even after thoroughly rinsing in clean water the materials have that same scent so hopefully fish like the smell of honey! One thing to note is that the dye bath is toxic so do not be tempted to drink it if you try this yourself!

I’ll probably try this again with a different species of lichen or maybe a dye mushroom.



Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
WFF Supporter
My wife does the same and was thrilled last year when I came home from a fishing trip to Oregon with bags of Letharia Vulpine. Its not at all common where we live in Western Washington.

The lettuce leaf like Lichen that grows on Alder trees on our property makes a great muted grasshopper yellow/green.

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