By Martin Westbeek
Hair from Snowshoe hare
feet is a relatively new fly tying material and since its
introduction in the eighties (Fran Betters' Usual) it has
rapidly gained popularity among tiers, especially in the
last few years. The dense, curly underfur holds a lot of air
bubbles. It is easily compressed, so it is tied in without
too much bulk. The hair is very hydrophobic and buoyant, and
the guard hairs are stiff and translucent. Much more
information about using Snowshoe hair can be found in Leeson
and Schollmeyer's excellent book Tying Emergers. The
buoyancy of the hair is one advantage, another big plus is
the fact that it is quite sturdy. If the fly becomes slimy
after a couple of fish we can simply rinse it, pinch the
water out, rub it dry against a sleeve, and the fly fishes
like new. So yes — a hare's foot brings luck! I use Snowshoe
hair for several patterns, including the Snowshoe Caddis,
Snowshoe Emerger and the Snowshoe Sparkle Dun. They are
quick ties, and very effective patterns. Of course their
sizes and colors can be easily adapted to local
Hook: Daiichi 1180
#16 Thread: Uni 8/0 or similar.
Shuck: Antron or similar
Body: Superfine dubbing
Wing: Snowshoe Hare, medium grey.
1. Start the thread.
2. Wrap the thread
back to a point about 2/3 of the hook shank. Twist the
thread in a clockwise direction, and wrap a small thread
bump with crisscross wraps.
3. Tie in the Snowshoe hair
(pinch & loop), tips extending over the hook eye. Keep the
hair on top of the hook shank: pull up, not down. Secure the
hair with 5 tight wraps.
4. This is the chaos
management part: pinch the hair, work you scissors into the
bunch and clip off the top 1/3 of the hair.
5. Make a few wraps, and
clip off another 1/3 of the hair.
6. Make a few wraps and
clip off the rest of the hair. This produces a tapered body.
Also works very well if you're tying Wulff style dries with
elk or calf hair. The thread should be between the point of
the hook and the barb.
7. Tie in the Antron shuck.
8. Secure with some thread
9. Dub the thread. I like
thin, loosely dubbed bodies on my Sparkle Duns because that
makes them somewhat translucent.
10. Dub the body up to the
11. Put the wing up by
making 3–5 thread wraps on top of the thread bump. In order
to keep the wing up I put a small drop of CA glue on the
hook shank in front of the wing. With the nail of my thumb I
push the glue into the wing, which will then fan out.
12. Front view of the wing
13. Add some dubbing.
14. Dub behind and in front
of the wing, don't leave a gap in the dubbed body below the
wing. Cut the shuck to length, about a hook shank long.
15. Tie off and put a drop
of varnish on the knot.
Martin Westbeek ©
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