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PoPnBuG

brittle calf skin?

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I admit to being VERY rusty at the dry fly vice unsure.gif . I wanted to tie some calf body hair wing on some flies, and had a dickens of a time.

 

The calf hide is so stiff that it was extremely mad.gif difficult to clip the amount of hair I wanted.

 

I thought that there was a recent thread about making that skin supple, but my searches did not reveal it...

 

If you know the thread, I'd appreciate the post... If you can't find the thread, I'd appreciate your thoughts!!

 

Calf body looks so much nicer that tail hair, don't you think? rolleyes.gif

 

Thanks in advance!

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Hi PoPnBuG,

 

You didn't mention whether the hide was tanned or not. If you have a tanned hide, I don't know what to do but if your hide is untanned then you could do the following:

 

In my younger years I used to braid rawhide horse equipment (bridles, reins, etc.) The way I softened raw hide was to cut it in strips before running the strips through a tool to size the thickness. Place the strip around an axe handle or shovel handle and pull back and forth on it. In your situation keep the hair to the outside during this process. It will not get as limber as a tanned hide but should make it usable for fly tying. By the way I think an inch or inch & a half wide strip would be as wide as you would want to go. Good luck & ...

 

Tight Lines - Al Beatty

www.btsflyfishing.com

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I'm sure the hide is cured, it is a purchased patch from a materials company. I'm guessing it is "tanned", but is not supple like I am used to.

 

It is just that the patch is so stiff, I can't get a good grip on the amount of hair I want to use. If I could bend it a bit, it would help.

 

I've been afraid to try to flex the hide, but I have to try something!

 

I'll keep you posted. I wondered about getting it wet, to see if that would "free" it up a bit, then keep working the patch until it is fully dry...

 

If that little hair wing didn't look so good, I wouldn't bother! dunno.gif

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With stiff skins like non-tanned sqirrel, I cut a strip about 1/4 inch wide from the pelt. It's easier to manage the fur. If it is brittle, I just snap of little peices as I tie flies. Despite being stiff, it cuts easily of you cut from the hide side.

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Some methods of tanning leave the hide stiff if not "broken" while it's drying. I don't know why a lot of tying materials come like this... it's pretty annoying sometimes.

 

Anyway, the hide can be softened a little by applying a little neatsfoot oil to the skin side only. Just a little at a time. As the oil soaks in, you'll find you can start to bend the hide a little. Use sand paper to roughen it up, add a little more neatsfoot oil, and bend the hide every which way. Run in over the edge of a board. The hide will turn white-ish and get softer the more you work at it. Do not soak it in water, as this will most likely leach out the tanning chemicals.

 

This is a lot of work! If you just have a small piece, it's probably not worth the effort, to be honest.

 

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