"Some deer hair is extremely brittle even though
flexible. Avoid such material, as it is useless.
If the hair is stiff it may be softened by the
following processes, wich are applicable to both
dyed and natural hair, including bucktails:
1. To a bottle containing approximately one gallon
of soft water, add one teaspoonful of sulphonated
castor oil and a small amount of "Lux" flakes (or their
equivalent). Shake vigorously until the oil is emulsified.
Wash the hair (pieces of hide or tails) thoroughly four
times with soap and water and then soak it in this
solution for two hours, stirring occasionally. This
restores the suppleness of the hair, but if it is
still to harsh treat it by the following method:
Credits: From Fly-Tying By William
Bayard Sturgis, Published by Charles Scribner's Sons. (1940)
2. To one part of olive oil add one part (by volume)
of household ammonia and eight parts of water. Put
this in a bottle and shake well until emulsified.
Pour this into a pot and soak the hair for about one
half an hour.
NOTE: Hackle can also be treated thus to make them
Please check out the Fly Tying Section, on the Bulletin Board, here at FAOL too.
If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to