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Fly Tying

Preserving Natural Materials

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All great info. And yes, I’m mainly considering freshly harvested animals that my son and I take of the species I listed before. The number a type of flies we tie right now are pretty limited so it honestly isn’t going to save me a ton of money (and definitely not time). To me it’s more the novelty and satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly I tied with materials from animals we harvested.

But thanks for all the great responses! Between this thread and others I’ve found I’m starting to get an idea of what i need to do. 

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Borax is good for bird skins, you need to degrease waterfowl first but for hair skins (small game)

1. skin - you should scrape all fat and tissue

2. wash and rinse - wash with teaspoon of dish detergent per gallon of water, rinse and wring the skin

3. preserve - immerse into a closed container of denatured alcohol for min of 48 hours followed by borax and water for 10 min. (4oz per gallon) then rinsed again, wring and dry. this will make a hard preserved skin for dubbing etc.

for zonkers you need to tan - after the alcohol you need to break the skin to allow the tanning solution to penetrate. solution in a gallon hot water dissolve  1/2 cup aluminum sulfate and I/2 cup of un iodized salt. cool solution soak hide in covered container until turns an even white color. after that rinse and soak in the borax solution for 10 min rinse and wring then rub and stretch until soft and  dry

large game skins

steps 1 & 2

break skin to remove elastic membrane tan (2 gallons hot water, 5 lbs. salt, 1 1/2 lbs. aluminum sulfate, 4 oz. borax) soak until white color is uniform (3 - 7 days) rinse allow to drip dry or tumble with cedar or other wood chips. cutting to smaller pieces makes it faster.

makes paying a few dollars for a skin sound much better,  it is a lot of work and you have not started dying colors yet.


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