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Big Epp

Sourcing Materials

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So I've been carving lures and making spinners for a couple years now. Recently I started pouring my own lead jig heads. Now I'm dabbling with hair jigs, and I'm starting to get the itch to tie some of my own flies. I tied my first bunch (3) of flies probably 20 years ago. Two were very successful for bass. One I tied with strips of an old white sock, the other with a curl of my hair.

Behind much of my lure-making is a desire to save money and be creative. About a month ago I found a freshly killed squirrel (clearly it had no more use for its tail), and took its tail for tying fur. Earlier this week I did the same with a deer on the side of the road. I reached out to a local deer processing place and the guy is going to save me some deer tails. Right now he's going to sell them to me for $2 each, but I may try and negotiate some sort of trade.

Does anyone else use "creative" methods for sourcing materials, and if so, could you share?

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There are a lot of things in dollar, party and craft stores that can be found for cheap money. Some cheap materials are costume and party wigs, yarn, craft fur, tinsel and holiday decorations, paint brushes (fibers), feathers, braided tubing (mylar tinsel tubing, deco flex tubing), closed cell foam sheets, mop heads and cleaning mop gloves, and squishy wiggly silicone toys.

Dollar stores are great for cheap nail polish and clear top coat nail polish for coating thread.

Some free stuff:

Feathers – check around bird feeders and around the shore at bodies of water. Feathers can be found anywhere if you look for them. I have also made tail fins for large swimbait from them.

Old clothing and costumes – before someone throws out old clothing or costumes cut off any fur/hair collars and cuffs and any other material that can be used.

Nylon or plastic rope strands.

German shepherd hair- It helps to have one or a friend who does. Brushing strange dogs can be risky. 

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You are only limited by your imagination.   A few things I have done...

Roadkill of all kinds.

Make friends with a taxidermist for scraps.

Cats, dogs, rabbits, etc all shed and all make great bugs.

Go to local parks for feathers or get a pet chicken/duck.

Stuffed animals have neat dubbing.

 

There is probably more, but it's a start.  The main thing is just have fun.

 

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And to add a bit more......

If you have a farm near you goats also shed.  Alpacas and Llamas are sheared on a regular basis and would make good dubbing. You could make friends with a rabbit and poultry breeder as they may have free pelts.  

Remember to obtain stuff legally.  Some feathers/fur are not legal to obtain, others have stipulations on what documentation you need to have in order to use.  Most park duck feathers are fine but a roadkill eagle/hawk/owl wouldn't be.  

If you haven't yet, a good read is The Feather Thief.  

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Big Epp Just a word of caution about live uncured road kill type of free resources. Organics like tails, feathers, furs have a natural tendency to carry with them bugs parasites larva etc. Some still have active degrading fleshy left overs. Do some research about prepping them or treating them to avoid un wanted elements creeping into your other materials possibly ruining a high priced cape or hackle collar.   Some people will micro wave ( radiate)  tails and fur to kill unwanted unseen pests, (not in your personal home cooking micro, use a cheep older one dedicated to only that use)... some people cure tail ends with salt to dry them up to stop wrought and odors. A  lot of people protect there stuff by storing it in moth balls after treating.    A some what seemingly free road kill tail can cost you a ton of lost  money and material if untreated or properly prepped .  I am sure your probably already aware of this but thought it might be worth a mention. I have used road kill racoon tail and grey squirrel tails ,deer tails  with good success and yes you can save money by doing so.

As you get further into the addictive qualities and free your  creative spirit of tying. I found it so much more fulfilling and less work with piece of mind to purchase already treated products from specialty suppliers. Yes some what expensive to purchase but will last a very long time if you look after them.  Bags of mixed craft stuff like  feathers are very low quality in my experience and you have to sort out through a lot of substandard feathers to find the right size, length width ,lie barring  etc  not worth the time to me now . It is a process or evolution. I think  it is limited to your budget and imagination Great hobby and pastime. Hope this helps. Happy tying.

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Dollar stores, craft stores, pets, old Xmas tinsel and whatever random places you see stuff worth while 

I hunt and held a trappers license so I got a lot of stuff from this too

A good friend of mine is a big taxidermist that has clients that send him animals from all over the world. I got a ton of trim ends from him. Lots of the materials are not cheap and hard to come by

 

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If you want to get into dubbing, synthetic wings, dubbing brush streamers or the like, I highly recommend Fly Tyer's Dungeon. They make all their own stuff and aim to provide quality materials at the best price. When you try to put together a $50 order, it takes a lot of line items (28 or so). Packs are larger than other sources also. They are always coming out with something new. They also put out a lot of instructional videos.

If you choose to dye your own materials, read the book referenced above. Pool peroxide can be used to bleach materials before dying. But it must be handled properly as it is very caustic at that concentration (27%). An excellent source for acid dyes is Dharma Supply. They blend their own colors, have a larger range of colors, and more reasonable prices. 

Quality genetic hackle will set you back a pretty penny. But there is no substitute for good feathers for dry flies or streamers. A thin, flexible shaft is much easier to work with and performs much better. 

For many flies, game birds like partridge, pheasant, duck, goose, and turkey will create many patterns. Bucktail, deer hair, beaver pelts, rabbit, squirrel, skunk, woodchuck are readily available as well. 

I highly recommend mothballs for natural materials. If you have an old dresser, put a few in a sandwich bag in a couple of drawers.  

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Well there is no such place!  As I also tie flies I've built up quite a mass of materials.  I get some nice skins on ebay.  Check with goodwill I've found some nice old beat up fur coats for cheap - tear out the lining and you can cut them into zonker strips!  or cut the fur off and use it that way.  The feathers from craft stores I've never seen any good in them and folks I know who've tried the boa's the color wash's out.    Enjoy the madness!! 

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