Snowshoe Hare's Feet

$1.00 Each

 

 

I have been using snowshoe feet to tie flies for about 5 years.  I began by using them as a substitute for more traditional materials in my standard patterns.  In addition, now I find myself tying patterns designed specifically around hare’s feet.  Both endeavors have proved successful.

Lets begin by discussing the fly tying properties of snowshoe feet.  On the bottom of the hare’s hind foot you will find long (1/2 inch) buoyant, kink resistant, and non-absorbent hair.  This stuff floats just as well as CDC and deer hair without some of the disadvantages.  Deer hair, when used as a wing, breaks and frays easily and CDC becomes slimed after a few fish. Hare’s feet come in various natural colors.  In summer and early fall the foot hairs are dun to tan colored.  This is an excellent natural color as all we fly tyers know.  Hares harvested in early fall have premium feet.  As winter approaches Snowshoe Hares turn white all over and their foot hairs turn cream to white color.  Cream color hare’s feet can be used natural or can be easily dyed.  I have dyed hare’s feet many different colors using just  cheap department store dye and standard dying techniques.  You can also color the hair using permanent marker. 

Next I will discuss how I have used hare’s feet to improve some of my old favorites.  It all started with the standard issue wet salmon fly.  Here on The Rock (Newfoundland) we traditionally tie hair wing conversions of the old salmon classics using moose hair or squirrel tail for a wing.  For the throat I have always used the old standard hen neck.  One night  I was just fiddling with a hare’s foot and wondering how I could use it on a salmon fly.  The hair was hardly long enough to use for a wing on a #8 salmon fly so I decided to test the stuff out as a throat material.  I dyed a foot kingfisher blue and tied up a couple of Blue Charms.  The flies looked fine and the material was easy to work with, but Salmo Salar himself would have the final say.  The results were excellent.  I have since hooked countless salmon on flies with throats of dyed hare’s feet.  Another of my favorite salmon flies is the Brown Bomber.  It is traditional tied with a tail and wing of calf tail, a cigar shaped spun deer hair body, and a palmered hackle.  I have successfully used hare’s foot as a substitute for the calf tail in both the tail and wing.  The wulff  series of flies is also quite popular for Atlantic Salmon. These have a calf tail split wing and tail.  Hare’s feet significantly improves the floatability of these flies especially when used in fast water.  One of my own salmon/trout creations is constructed completely from snowshoe hare (except the thread and hook).  It is essentially a grey wulff with a tail and split wing of hare’s foot.  The dubbed body is snowshoe hare under fur and the hackle is formed from the hare’s guard hairs.

 

I have also dug up a few patterns designed specifically around the hare’s foot.  They are as follows:

        Da Usual (I have found this fly very effective for still water trout)

            Hook – standard dry fly (size 12 – 22)

  Thread – 6/0 color to match body

Tail – A clump of foot hair proportioned to fly size

Body – your favorite dry fly dubbing color to match naturals

Wing – A clump of foot hair tied post style

Hackle – none

 

 

        Hare’s Foot Caddis

             Hook – standard dry fly (size 12 – 22)

Thread – 6/0 color to match body

Tail – none or just a trailing shuck made out of a sparse clump of foot hair

Body – your favorite dry fly dubbing color to match naturals

Wing – There are actually two wings tied one in front of the other from clumps of foot hair tied in caddis style.

Hackle – none

 

        Hare’s  wing Dun

              Hook – standard dry fly (size 12 – 22)

Thread – 6/0 color to match body

Tail – Dun colored hackle fibers

Body – your favorite dry fly dubbing color to match naturals

Wing – A clump of foot hair tied in dun style

Hackle – Dun or brown dry fly hackle, clipped on the bottom like a thorax hackle

 

        B.U.M (Bob’s Usual  Merger)

This is not an individual fly but rather a style of emerger invented by Bob Lindquist.  He features the fly in the spring 2000 issue of Fly Tyer.  You really have to read the article to appreciate this fly.  It is hard to explain without the aid of pictures.

        Hook – standard dry fly (size 14 – 22)

Thread – 8/0 color to match body

Tail – Straight Z-lon, color to match trailing shuck of natural

Body – your favorite dry fly dubbing color to match naturals

Wing – A clump of foot hair, but tied on in an unusual fashion so as to create an emerger style.  The tail end of the fly will hang down but the head will be buoyed up by the buoyant wing

Hackle – none

 

I realize that the pattern details are difficult to follow without pictures.  Fly tying is a visual thing.  I am in the process of photographing some flies as well as tying stages to illustrate this site.  Bookmark this site and check back for detailed tying instructions with pictures.

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