Bucktail as a fiber is renowned for its use in all sorts of fishing flies. It sheds water easily and holds it's shape when wet which makes it a great candidate for spinning into a brush. Longer bucktail fibers are ideal candidates for brushes, and in this post we'll describe to basic tools you'll need to spin up your own for big musky and pike flies.
Bucktail brush making follows the same principles as traditional brush making, but there are a few marked differences in how the fiber behaves that I thought it would be helpful to share some techniques that are used in producing Weights & Measures brushes.
Let's first consider the brushmaking table itself. If you are familiar with traditional brushmaking using synthetic fibers or shorter natural fibers, there are many commercially available tables that follow a simple process to produce brushes. In a nutshell, fibers are sandwiches between two lengths of dubbing wire on a flat table and the wire is spun under tension which captures the fibers between them. The brush is then wrapped around a hook or shank and you get a nice profile in a simple consistent blended shape.
While these tables can be used to make bucktail brushes, their size and methods of holding tension on the wire can add some challenges. All Weights & Measures brushes are spun on a DIY table that is little more than an outside frame, one stationary hook for holding wire or braided line, and a wider table (6" or more) that can be dropped out from underneath the brush (or moved out of the way entirely) to allow the brush to be spun. The wider table holds up long bucktail fibers better. We also abandon the spinning tension wheel found on traditional dubbing brush tables and use a cordless drill to allow for greater line tension and spinning speed. Here's an incredibly accurate schematic of our table dimensions:
The other key to Weights & Measures brushes is that we use braided mono fishing line in place of dubbing wire, as wire has a tendency to shred the fibers before the brush is completely spun, and braided mono allows for a very tightly spun brush without losing fibers.
Other tools that you should have on hand are a sharp pair of scissors, dubbing wax and a comb to pull out the underfur from your bucktail. Gather your materials, find a brush table or make one yourself! The table pictured is little more than some scrap garage lumber, two picture hooks and tools you probably already have at your tying bench.
We'll dig into the brushmaking process in the next post. Remember to sign up for our email list to get shop updates, specials and stay connected.