There are many times in my fishing life and a few in my personal life where I have arrived a little too late to the party – started to fish for carp after far too many years of just chasing trout, started to tie flies after a 10-15 year hiatus, didn’t get a rod besides a 5 weight until a few years ago, didn’t realize that I needed to practice casting…but this time I’m not too late. Actually with this I was on time, but I didn’t see the value of what I had until just recently. I picked up my first packs of the Fish Skull Faux Bucktail shortly after they came out, I tied a few Clouser Minnows, never caught anything on them, and put the faux bucktail down and didn’t pick it up again until recently. In complete honesty I’m not surprised I didn’t catch any fish on my Clouser Minnows because I didn’t fish them long enough.
Fast forward to now – there have been more than a few crazy fly patterns that have crossed my mind. Some friends pushing me to expand my fly tying and fly fishing skills, a few other people being sounding boards for my silly ideas. So I started to explore some new ideas, and some of these ideas caused me to pick up the faux bucktail, and figure out how to use it. It took some practice to figure out how to use the faux bucktail – but I’m confident it can be used in a lot of different ways.
There are a lot of things that I LOVE about the faux bucktail and a few things I don’t love but that can be overcome by doing things a little differently. One interesting factoid about the bucktail is that it is synthetic and will sink. This could be beneficial or a hindrance depending on what you want the fly to do. Below are the pro’s and con’s I’ve come up with and a short overview:
Color: one of my favorite things about faux bucktail is the color. I don’t know if you’ve tried using bucktail previously and been digging the awesome chartreuse color and then had one of two things happen: one, the die isn’t consistent and you end up having odd colors or can’t use part of the bucktail; or, two, been tying a lot of flies like a machine (props to all you consistent production fly tiers) and had your fingers become blue, black, green, purple, or whatever color your using. Neither of these annoying things happen with the faux bucktail. The product is consistently the same color throughout the packaging and the colors will not bleed. Those are two big pluses in my book.
Length: another premium benefit to these faux bucktail fibers is that they are consistent in their length. I love the fact that I know exactly how long each fiber is and that I don’t have to go searching for the longer hairs. They are all the same which means no more being half an inch too short (unless we trim it too short haha).
Taper: Along with having a consistent length the fibers all have a the same taper. This means that the product will be act consistently throughout the entire pack. No worrying if it’s going to be a stiffer or softer fiber. I remember being told that consistency is key in fly tying and this product is consistent!
Clean/organization friendly: I know that I am not the only guy here who has a wife/significant other that doesn’t like the mess created by fly tying. In my house it’s of supreme importance to my wife to be organized. I am awed by her organizational skills. Some of them have rubbed off on me. The faux bucktail comes in super clean bundle. Glued together the fibers stack easily and haven’t fallen apart on me. I love how easy this product is to put away compared to normal bucktail.
Slippery: Holy Guacamole Batman! This product has some slippery fibers. I think this is part of the reason why I stopped tying with material the first time around. I didn’t know how to manage the faux bucktail to keep it from sliding out of my thread wraps and going everywhere. Jumping from back then to now I’ve been fortunate to learn a few more things about how to better use my thread, different thread types, and thread properties. Spinning the thread tighter allows for more “grip” or “bite” into the faux bucktail, keeping it from slipping out as easily. This can be a possible point of frustration, unless you are willing to put in the time to figure out a little more about thread control.
No Flare: Natural bucktail has hollow fibers; faux bucktail does not have hollow fibers. That hollow-ness gives natural bucktail it’s ability to create bulk, be easily (relatively easily) spun, and its ability to be reverse tied, and its ability to flare. These faux bucktail fibers don’t have some of the core characteristics of traditional bucktail.
Faux bucktail is a great product! With practice it can be used in a large variety of situations in ways that are very similar to nature bucktail. It is a synthetic replica that doesn’t do everything that it’s natural counterpart does. As I’ve said previously – it is all about having the right tools for the job and knowing how to use them properly. Ten out of ten I would recommend trying out faux bucktail! It’s a product that can do a lot of different things, can stretch your fly tying skills, and can be a consistent replacement in many bucktail style patterns.