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Thread: Deer hair bugs for bass

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  1. #1

    Default Deer hair bugs for bass

    Hey guys, this year I want to start fishing, as well as tying deer hair bugs. Does anybody have any patterns they really like or have any tips or suggestions? Also, anybody know of a good website for buying fly tying and fly fishing items? Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Conyers, Georgia USA


    Welcome to the world of warmwater fly fishing. Tying deerhair bugs can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. The biggest challenge is getting the hair packed tightly to make a bug that trims up nicely and floats well. I strongly recommend that you get something like a Brassie http://www.fishusa.com/product/Brass...FUtk7AodRHAAYg which will get the job done and save your fingers from trying to pack the hair by hand. Also, make sure that you use hooks with a wide enough gap for Deer hair flies. Even when you trim the hair very closely on the bottom of the pattern, it uses up some of the hook gap. Also, different kinds/cuts deer hair is better for deer hair bug than other kinds. I suggest that you visit Chris Helms' website as he is extremely knowledgeable about the different hairs and his products are always top notch.

    If you're still in the process of getting an outfit for fly fishing for bass, then I would recommend that you look for a used 9 foot 7 wt outfit. You can get much higher quality used equipment for as cheap or cheaper than lower quality equipment purchased new. You can get a reel with a nice drag system, but you will almost never use it for bass. I fish for them extensively and even the largest bass I've caught on a fly rod (somewhere between 9-10lbs) don't pull out much line. They tend to pull hard for a couple of minutes and perhaps jump a few times, but they quit the fight within a few minutes. I'd spend my money on a higher quality line and get a mid range reel like a Scientific Angle System 2L or even an Okuma reel.

    I hope this helps and perhaps some of the other experienced bass anglers/tyers will jump in to offer their expertise.

    Jim Smith

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Philadelphia, PA, USA


    As Jim said, Chris Helm's site would be a good site to visit, a good source of information and material. You need deer belly hair for spinning bugs, a heavier thread so it doesn't break when you apply the pressure to spin the hair on the shank. Something to pack the hair tight, the bottom of a ball point pen with do in a pinch, that's what I use when I tie them. A thought on packing the hair tight. If it looks like you have enough hair on the shank, you probably don't. Pack it tighter and add a couple of more bunches. Wide gape hooks, look out side of the fly shops and catalogs. I like to use what I like to use are either round bend straight shanked worm or spinner bait hooks. They're wide gape and the one's made by Gamakatsu, Owner or Eagle Claw are extremely sharp, as my thumb can attest when I try packing the hair with my fingers instead of using a packer. The most frustrating part of tying deer hair bugs.. shaping them. A sharp pair of scissors and a half of a safety razor blade. You can still find them in stores like CVS or Walgreen's. You need to be careful when breaking the blade in half but it can be done. The razor blade half is used to do most of the shaping and trimming. The scissors for minor trims of stray hair.
    Patterns. I tie one called a Polliwog. It was originally developed as an Alaskan salmon fly, and when I first saw the pattern in a tying magazine, the body was thumb shaped. I think it is tied differently these days. I'm not real good with deer hair. This is what one of the Polliwogs I tied looks like. It's tied on a 2/0 Partridge Pike hook. Hopefully, someone of will post up some good examples of deer hair bugs to show you what they should look like.


  4. #4


    There is a similar post on the Fly Tying Forum, I'm copying my reply from that one:

    Your best source for techniques are the Chris Helms DVD's (that is how I learned). He also sells lots of materials for deer hair bugs. I find the deer hair I get from him is of the best quality. The shop is Whitetail Flyting Supplies. I found out from the other post that it is no longer owned by Chris Helms. I have not bought deer hair in about 4 years so I'm not sure if the quality is still high.

    Another good source is the book Bass Bug Basics by John Likakis.

    As for patterns, I like to use sliders and pencil poppers, one of my favorite patterns is this one:


    Pretty straightforward tie. The hair is antelope (pronghorn). I love it for bass bugs except for the fact that the tips of the hair are almost always all broken, making it so you can't use it for collars but works well for everything else.

    This year I'm trying some Bombers:



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    South Louisiana


    I. Start by reading Helm's interview deerhair in Hatches: https://www.hatchesmagazine.com/page/may2006/175

    II. Purchase Helm's CD... Chris Helms is a fantastic tyer and his CD is great - a wise investment! He is also the guy to get constant high quality deer hair from (plus he's good guy!).

    III. However, for over 25 years, I attended/tyed at Southern Council Conclave and sat across from or next to Billy Munn at virtually every one of those conclaves. Unfortunately, Billy's health has kept him from the last few Southern Council Conclaves (Fly Fairs/shows). In my opinion, Billy is The Master of Deer Hair... There are others who are great, even more than great! Names like Helms and Mike George, Royce Dam, Nix and others immediately come to mind, but if you are only going to purchase a single CD from which to learn (Why would you limit yourself ?) then I suggest that that first CD be Billy Munn's: "Tying Hair Bugs with Billy Munn". This CD was shot by a tyer. It is like sitting down with Billy. His CD is still my favorite tying CD of all time... You will not regret purchasing a copy! However, it is very hard to find... Just keep looking...

    IV. Track down one of Royce Dam's CD's on deerhair... Again, money more than well spent! Royce is a MASTER at all types of tying... One of the very best ever... ever! Again, Royce's CD's may be hard to locate, but more than worth the effort!

    V. Try to find someone who wiling to loan ya' Nix's old DVD's (CD's)... Again, you'll learn so much. By the way Nix, used to travel to Munn's house
    for a couple of years nights each week, in order to master the skills that eventually got him the Buz Buszek Memorial Fly Tying Award... The highest award in tying in the world. The Buzsek was also awarded to Munn, Dam and Helm... So, they're all the TOPS!

    Buy a box of 100 hooks, a half of a northern deer hide and several boxes of double-edged razor blades. Most hides from the midwest, and ALL from the South, are not worth your time! Preferably, buy a tanned hide, as working from a tanned hide is sooo much better than working off rawhide! Believe me, using a raw hide will hinder your progress!!

    Then tie up 100 bugs (you don't need to tie on the tails)...

    Use your razor blade to trim the 100 bugs... (Toss your blades if they even begin to get a little dull!!)
    Take your razor blade and cut ALL the hair off those 100 hooks... Yeah, I said all the hair!


    Do this four or five times, and you'll be amazed at how much you'll learn.

    There is a learning advantage to spinning up 100 bugs and then cutting 100 bugs at one time!!! If ya' haven't tried , you'll never appreciate this exercise!

    Oh, and I won't loan ya' ANY of my copies of these CD/DVD's! These are all great folks who have generously taught thousands of us to tie at IFFF shows for years and years. So , please don't "cheap out" and bootleg their copyrighted material! Support these folks - Nix, Munn and Dam are all retired for many years, and Chris is probably real close, if not already retired...

    Good luck,



    Also pick up some Band-Aids before ya' start... HA!
    Last edited by bowfin47; 04-23-2014 at 11:25 PM.
    Never trust quotes you find on the internet.
    Thomas Jefferson

  6. #6


    Pat Cohen is the new deer hair master. He has great DVDs too.

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