Having good technique is essential, using the right flies plays a significant role in your fishing success, too. Tying your own flies should save you money in the long run, especially if you can use a never-ending supply of free dog hair.
You can tie flies with dog hair, and the best option is something fine and soft, which makes it easier to tie. However, you can use coarse dog hair as long as the fly is big enough to tie the hair. Using synthetic, colorful fur along with dog hair will make the fly more attractive to fish.
Here I’ll discuss why dog hair is an excellent option for tying flies. Additionally, I’ll cover the three most popular types of flies, and which dog breed has the best hair for such uses. Lastly, I’ll go over the best ways to get hair from your dog to use for dubbing, as well as other great hair options for tying flies.
Why Is Dog Hair a Good Choice for Flies?
Dog hair is a good choice for flies because using a blend of natural and synthetic furs will help to attract more fish. Like other animal hair, dog hair is often readily available and, when paired with dubbing, works well to give the illusion of a “fly” on the water.
When making dubbing, it’s natural to turn to your dog, as most breeds will almost constantly shed. Using dog hair can be a convenient option to tie flies. Not only is it free, but there will most likely be an abundance of it.
Therefore, people who love fly fishing and want to make their own flies should look to the resources around them. Using material like dog hair, instead of only synthetic fur, not only creates a better fly but can also be a fun hobby.
What are the Best Ways To Get Dog Hair for Dubbing?
Unless your dog is constantly shedding and there are piles of hair everywhere, actually getting the dog hair might seem more challenging than you thought.
The best ways to get dog hair for dubbing are:
- Ask your dog groomer to save some hair
- Carefully cut some hair off your dog
- Use a grooming brush
With many long-haired breeds, such as Australian Shepherds, dog hair should be available all over your house. But you might have to take extra steps with short-haired dogs.
Ask Your Dog Groomer To Save Some Hair
After you take your dog to the groomer, ask the groomer to save some of the hair for you.
While this might seem like an off request to some, the groomer will most likely do it, especially if you explain why.
Providing a small bag for the groomer to put the hair in is also a good idea. That way, all the groomer has to do is put the hair in the bag.
Carefully Cut Some Hair Off Your Dog
If you don’t feel comfortable asking the groomer for your dog’s hair and your dog’s coat is long, try cutting some yourself.
However, I recommend only doing this before a grooming appointment, so your dog doesn’t have an uneven and oddly-cut fur coat for too long.
If your dog doesn’t sit still well, take extra precautions when trying to cut its hair, as you could seriously injure it if you’re not careful.
Use a Grooming Brush
Using a grooming brush is not only great for acquiring hair for dubbing, but it will reduce the amount of hair your dog sheds. Grooming brushes are very popular among many dog owners for this reason.
I recommend the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush or the FURminator (both on Amazon) if you’re looking for a grooming brush. They are excellent for de-shedding both dogs and cats and work for most hair types. In addition, they’re designed to brush out matted fur without hurting, and it works as a massage tool for animals.
Using these grooming brushes will guarantee enough dog hair to tie different flies.
Which Dog Breeds Have the Best Hair for Tying Flies?
While there isn’t a specific breed whose fur is considered the “best” for tying flies, there are various types of fur coats among many breeds, and some coats will be easier to work with than others.
The dog breeds with the best hair for tying flies include those with long, soft coats, like Cocker Spaniels, Samoyeds, and Chow Chows. However, any straight coat will work, provided the hair is long enough to tie. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies are also great options.
Using soft, fine dog hair is preferred because it’s easier to tie. Breeds such as the Afgan Hound, Cocker Spaniel, and Yorkshire Terrier are known for their silky coats, which might make it easier to tie flies.
However, that doesn’t mean silky-haired dogs are the only options for tying flies. You can tie flies with any dog fur as long as it’s long enough, and you have the patience to do so.
Some dog hair might be more difficult to tie than others. For example, poodles and certain poodle crossbreeds tend to have very coarse and curly hair, which will be challenging to work with. Similarly, short-haired breeds, such as Pitbulls, don’t have enough hair (fur), and it’s not long enough to tie.
Still, if you’re already an expert on tying flies, you most likely won’t have any trouble using dog hair with your dubbing.
What Are the Different Fly Designs?
The different fly designs include dry flies, nymphs, clousers and kwans. The design you choose depends on many factors, like the fish you aim to catch and current water conditions. Streamers are considered best for fishing salmon, while nymphs and dry flies are ideal for trout. Closures and kwans are used for a variety of saltwater species.
Having the right fly or bait is essential when catching fish. Let’s take a closer look at the fly design types below and the different circumstances in which they’re used:
- Dry Flies: Dry flies are the most widely used, as they’re supposed to imitate flies landing on the surface of the water.
- Nymphs: Nymphs are supposed to imitate vertebrae floating just below the water’s surface.
- Streamers: Streamers imitate smaller fish in the water.
- Clousers: Clousers imitate shrimp and small baitfish present in saltwater.
- Kwans: Kwans imitate various crab species present in various marshes and grasses.
While using dog hair to craft different fly designs works well, using colorful, synthetic fur is also essential. Some fish are more attracted to bright colors.
For instance, in clear water, you need to add bright colors in order to make the fly have a presence in the water. Using your chocolate lab’s fur will not help your fly stand out, and chances are, you won’t get any bites.
Therefore, while dog hair works well to tie flies, it typically shouldn’t be the only hair used.
Other Options for Dubbing
Dog hair is an excellent option for dubbing and has been around for years. However, it’s not the only option.
You can use several other animal hairs for dubbing. Animals with lighter fur coats are a favored option, as more colorful fur attracts more fish.
Cat hair is another standard option for those who want to tie their own flies. As cats are domesticated animals that typically shed a lot, it’s easily accessible. This makes it a favorite of many when tying flies.
Many cats have long, silky hair, depending on the breed. Therefore, using a grooming brush or picking up the piles of shed hair will make great flies.
Alternatively, try this Pet Grooming Glove from Amazon.com for easy, clean, and gentle brushing. Using a good tool will let you easily collect excess fur.
Many people like to use bucktails to tie flies, though it is typically used by people who also like to hunt. Deer hair is coarse, and it’s commonly used to make dry flies.
Deer hair is also sold online specifically for fly fishing, so it’s easy to buy if you aren’t an avid hunter.
Most of the time, you can buy various types of hair online to use as dubbing. However, using the hair from the animals around you is cheaper and makes for a fun project.
You can tie flies with dog hair, and many people have been doing so for years. Using a grooming brush is the most effective way to get dog hair in abundance. However, you can also ask your groomer for your dog’s fur instead.
People typically favor dog hair that is long and silky over coarse hair. Breeds like the Cocker Spaniels and Yorkshire Terriers are favorable, but you can use any dog hair to tie flies as long as it’s long enough.