Rabbit fur is a very versatile material for tying flies. It is a staple in many popular trout patterns such as the sculpzilla or my favorite, the copper zonker. Unfortunately, the way small packs of rabbit fur are packaged smashes down the fur and leather strips. This leads to a tangled mess that is hard to work with.
Luckily, there is a quick five-minute solution that will transform the rabbit strips back to the original pre-packaged condition. Simply boil some water and utilize the steam created to re-fluff the rabbit. Use a pair of tongs to hold the rabbit strips in path of the steam. Occasionally brush the fur back in one direction and pull on the leather to encourage the fur and hide back to the original position. Be careful not to leave the fur in the steam to the point where it is dripping wet with condensation.
From this point I will usually leave my strips out or hang them to ensure they do not end up crammed back into a small bag. By having the fur in the original condition, you can easily see how the fibers will lay on the hook and also cut the leather cleanly without accidently cutting fur.
This steam trick will also breathe new life back into smashed up flies. If you have a bunch of dry flies that have been stored tightly just hold them over steam with some hemostats and watch the fibers return to the original “fluffy” position, this is especially true for elk hair patterns.
Hope this helps some of you as we all start re stocking our fly boxes this winter. Swing by the shop for all your fly tying needs, and stay tuned for dates for our tying classes and open tying nights coming this winter….