Hair Stackers

By: John O’Bryan

 I come from a very long line of hairless apes who can’t grow mustaches or beards and whose foreheads rapidly become “five heads” at a very early age.  Consequently, I have had very little experience working with any type of hair, but since I began to fly tying, I have learned to appreciate the lusciousness and floatability of the hair of many other animals.  The hair of elk and deer and moose is so important to this craft that learning to tie with it, though often difficult, is an essential skill to learn.

In order to make the best use of large animal hair it needs to be cut and inserted into a hair stacker, then tapped vigorously against a hard object (no, not your head), to align the tips before it gets tied to the shank.   Perfectly aligned tips may not catch you more fish – although they might – but they will make the fly look like it will catch more fish, and having confidence in a fly is important, especially when you’re fishing water that has had a lot of pressure.

I have tried many different types of hair stackers made from many different materials and they all work equally well, except for wooden ones which I would stay far away from.  As long as the stacker is smooth and slick on the inside so the hair stacks well and doesn’t stick when you pull the stacker apart, it will work just fine.  Using the right size stacker, based on the size of the hook and thickness of the hair, is important, too, so it’s always a good idea to keep a few different sizes at hand.  Find a brand you like and buy two or three different sizes and you’ll be set.

Tip of the day: If you find that the hair is sticking in your stacker or comes out uneven and misaligned, there is a good chance that the stacker has picked up residue from the hair that’s been run through it. A simple cleaning and a quick spray and wipe down with dry lubricant will get it back to its pristine condition.  Please make sure that you use a dry lubricant because it leaves no residual residue like a WD40-style lubricant does, and yet is still super slippery.

Bio: I am a husband, father, grandfather, photographer, and fisherman… in that order. I grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, and Fall River Mills, California which is arguably two of the fishiest places in the world. I currently live in Northern, Idaho where I chase steelhead on the Clearwater and the Snake and trout on St. Joe and Kelly Creek.

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