Monday, November 1, 2010

Do It Yourself

From "stripers online". This is a great step by step on cleaning up bucktails. I have a friend who cuts deer on the side so I've been promised 50+ bucktails. At 6.00 a pop at the flyshop you do the math...I say i'm coming out on top.......Tight Lines and sharp hooks!

What you will need:
Wisk Laundry Detergent - red bottle
Ivory Liquid soap
RIT White-Wash
Piping hot water
1 5 gal. bucket
1 milk crate or huge collendar
1 wicked shahp knife
1 pair utility shears
1 large comb
1 hair brush
3/4" plywood
1 fan
tons of bloody, greezy, snotty, muddy BT

1. Debone the BT. Take the knife and insert under the hide at the base of the tail and make a continuous cut exposing the bone underneath. You will now know why you need a "wicked shahp knife." Peel back the hide and remove the tail bone. I like to have two people if you are going to be doing a ton of them. 1 person debones and the other preps for degreasing.

2. Prep for degreasing. Take the deboned BT and scrape off the residual fat and trim away any and all that you can at this point. Fat is what makes that rancid smell later in the year and endears your to your betrothed. I also like to use a knife or utility shears to trim the base of the tail and eliminate the parts of the BT that I won't be using. Now it your time to get a nice, clean BT shape. Take your time.

3. Take the 5 gal. pail and fill 2/3 with piping hot water. Add in 1 packet of RIT White Wash, 1/2 cup or so of Ivory liquid dish washing sop and 1/4 a cup of Wisk Liquid Laundry Detergent. Put in upto 12 BT per pail and swish around thoroughly. When you think your done, swish some more.

4. Let it soak for three (3) days. Yes that is correct three (3) days. Stir occasionally. I do mine in my basement garage and give it a swish with a smashed hockey stick every time I come in or go out of the garage. DO NOT POUND the BT. The longer they soak, the more supple and tear able the BT becomes. Swishing in a circular motion seems to work very well.

5. After three (3) days, take and train the whole bucket into a sink into a milk crate or VERY large colander. Keep luke warm water running and rinse off each individual tail. By this time, all the blood clots, mud spots and other nasties should be sufficiently loosened or gone completely. Play the BT back and forth in your hand, removing all the degreasing solution. Again, be very gentle during this phase. The BT can tear easily.

6. As you rinse out the BT, squeeze out as much of the water as possible. DO NOT WRING THE BT - it will disnetgrate. Then place each BT in between 2-4 sheets of papertowels.

7. Now bring the BT to that sheet of plywood. Lay them out nicely and neatly. How they look now, is how they will dry and harden. Take some pride and time in laying them out. I usually lay them out with the hide facing up. Make sure they are all lined up nicely and there are no wrinkles or folds in the hide. Take a second sheet of plywood and place it gently over the BT making a nice plywood - BT - plywood sandwich. I like to clamp the sides and put bricks scattered randomly on the top. Point the fan to go between the plywood sheets and leave them like that for one (1) day. Do not let them get moldy. The purpose of this step is to simple yield your nice, straight, clean BT. All you are doing it shaping the final hide imprint.

8. After one (1) day, remove the clamps and plywood. Be gentle as some of the BT will stick to the top sheet of plywood as it is removed. While the BT is still fragile, it is beginning to toughen up.

9. Flip over all the BT with the hair side up. Use the brush and comb to stylize all the hair. If you want straight BT, this is how you do it. Be sure to follow the natural flow of the BT hide.

10. Carefully, not ruining your nice Paul Mitchell-like styling job, flip the BT over again with the hide side up. Liberally encrust the hide with the Borax. When in doubt, use more. The borax draws out the moisture and serves to cure the hide. I now put that second plywood sheet pack on, clamps back on and bricks back on and leave for 2-3 days with the fan blowing on it.

11. After about two or three days, take the clamps, bricks and plywood off. You will now see what I mean by nice, clean straight BT.

12. Now flip over the BT with the hair side up and let the fan dry that side for 3-4 days or better yet, a week. I know it seems long, but if you short cut this phase, when you put your BT away and then take them out to tie, they will be all moldy and rancid and you will have to start all over again.

13. After a week of fanning the fur side, flip the BT over again and re apply borax liberally. Use new Borax as the stuff on the plywood has a high moisture content weather you can feel it or not. Now put the fan on the BT and dry this side, with the Borax for 1 week. If you have done everything correctly, you are now done. You should have nice, clean, degreased, flat and straight BT with amazing fur to tie up flies, cod flies, jigs or anything you desire.

One small note, If you never use the brown center of the BT, you can trim it out with a new razor blade. Flip the BT hide side up and trace the dark hide from the light hide. This will cut away the left, center and right parts of the BT leaving you with nice clean, straight white BT to tie.


  1. me a chick...but I think I'd rather by them all done

  2. Pat..Your a chick, but I am with you. Sounds like a good $6 spent at the fly shop.