How do I care for my Hackle and keep the bugs out?
This is the second most often asked question. The first is how do I obtain a
Cree? The answer to the Cree is to get on my waiting list and be patient.
Many different methods of keeping out bugs from our hackle have been published.
Some are a bit different than what I do, but here is my way and it works for me.
Being in the business of selling bug free hackle we approach things differently than
the fly tier. We fumigate all of our products with a solution of formalin and potassium
permanganate. This is done in a closed cabinet that is held at 99.5 degrees for a
period of 10 hours. This is a requirement for export to Australia, which has the
toughest regulation. Our FDA controls it and we must get the certification so that
we may export. It is costly and not something I would recommend to fly tiers.
Just rest assured that when you get a skin from us that it is free of bugs.
You should never assume that a newly acquired skin to be free of bugs.
Better to treat all new to your home, skins before they can contaminate your
precious necks and saddles.
Being free of the little critters does not guarantee you that they will stay that way.
I believe that a preventative program is the best solution. I strongly recommend
that all fly tying materials are placed in zip lock bags and placed in a 0-degree
freezer at least two times per year for a period of at least one-week and
then re-frozen one week later.
When I return from a show I always place all skins that were off the property
into the freezer. One never knows where you will get an infestation.
In my personal tying bench I keep all skins in a ziplock bags when not in use.
I also drop one little round mothball into the bag. I have never noticed
any bad results from odor and I do catch fish so it must not bother them either.
What do I do if I spill something on a skin? Do not despair, just wash the skin.
Yes, when they are first processed they are washed and dried. Here is how
I do it.
I run the kitchen sink about half full of hot water (as hot as my hands can handle).
Squirt a bit of Dove dish soap in the water. Immerse the skins and gently by hand
or with an old toothbrush remove any foreign junk and squeeze gently to remove
excess water. It will not hurt to allow the skin to soak for a period of one half-hour.
In the second sink I run half full of hot water but add one cup of white
vinegar. The skin is placed in the rinse bath and allowed to soak for about
10 minutes. Again gently squeeze out all the water.
Now comes the easy part. Having obtained a piece of cardboard, I place the
skin, flesh side toward the cardboard and position the skin (note I did not say
stretch) to the natural size and shape and place as few a number of pins as are
necessary to hold in place. I brush and comb the hackle to look natural. Now
hang the cardboard on a wall in a heated room. It takes about 7 days to dry.
You will find that if there was any fat on the skin it will be transferred to the
cardboard. When you remove the skin, do it gently because a properly
prepared skin is very thin.
Do not be afraid to wash any skin. If you think that water might hurt it, how
can you expect it to work on a fly that is going to go into the water?
If you ever have any questions on care of your hackle skins, please do contact
me for help. ~ Dennis Conrad,