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Thadeus Ragan, my forever guide when I lived in South Florida with a 10-pounder when there was no pollution on Lake Okeechobee. Ragan  photo.

Largemouth bass fly fishing means spinning deer hair – it’s an unavoidable menu item

By Skip Clement

I used natural defenses to distance myself from the reality of being a poor spinner of deer hair: avoid tying flies using deer hair, telling myself that shitty looking flies didn’t matter to Micropterus salmoides, and consistent fly failure [falling apart during engagements] was just normal, being out-fished by my tournament pro guide Thadeus Ragan four to one was to be expected, and the most subtle, convincing myself the bass is not that interested in surface flies with spun deer hair.

Poppers, a day supply and backup. Ragan BASSIN’ flies. Photo by Ragan and  Pat Ford.

About a dozen years ago, I finally went to Fly Fishers Anonymous and received my white chip for admitting I sucked at spinning deer hair and would learn to spin deer hair responsibly for the rest of my life.

It was an instant relief to be among mates who were like me

Spinning deer hair for me was not about dexterity; it was about patience, using good materials, not crowding the eye, and being willing to relearn how to do it correctly.

My primary source of learning was YouTube and Vimeo – videos on ‘how to spin deer hair. Like most of what is available online, a search for good instruction is paramount. Fortunately, there are no QAnon tyers, but they’re are no-nothings claiming to be fly tying royalty – as you too  have already discovered.

Spinning right

I’ve learned to stick with those that have earned a rep, have materials supplier sponsorship, own a fly shop, make a living selling their flies, and especially pro bass tournament folks who tie flies. A person who makes a living relying on their pick of flies and lures is fully invested and a 100% reliable source… like my friend and guide Thadeus Ragan, in South Florida.

Here’s a thorough video, but you’re going to be outed

It is long [15 minutes], but if you want to know how to spin deer hair, you can get a degree by watching this Gunnar Brammer video at least a few times.


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