Prepping Hare’s Fur for Fly Tying

Hares are a pest in Hawke’s Bay so I always have plenty to shoot. I shoot most with a 17 HMR, some with a shotgun and some with a .204. Most of the time the dogs get to eat them, but I save a few for fly tying. They are the crucial part of the Hare & Copper, my favourite fly.

There are two parts to prepping hare’s fur for fly tying. The first is to take off the hare’s back skin. The only part of the hare I like tying with is the coarse guard hair on its back. The rest of the hair is too soft and dubs far more like rabbit, creating a smooth rather than a rough body.

The video below shows how to take the hare’s back fur off and roughly where to cut. I shoot so many hares I do not get too particular about getting every inch of fur of every hare.

The back fur still requires a fair bit of work to convert to good fly tying material. There is a thick underfur that is soft and not very good for dubbing that needs to be removed from the guard hair. This is a two step process. The first step is to use sharp tying scissors to remove the guard hair, trying to avoid getting too much of the underfur at the same time.

Inevitably there is a fair bit of underfur that needs to be removed from the guard hare. I do this using two fingers to pull the furs apart as this video shows. Separating the two types of hair starts at the 3.20 mark.