Cleaning Pelts and Feathers at Home a How to Video

Posted by Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies on

When customers purchase natural hair or fur fly tying supplies from our shop they are always clean, dry and in plastic. Quality control and ready-to-use convenience is what you pay for, but what happens when you don’t purchase your materials from our shop or any shop at all? In our most recent video tutorial, Mike demonstrates how he thoroughly washes and dries problem birds and feathers. The video details materials you will need and the process so you can try it at home. For a straight forward step by step written explanation of cleaning materials, check out one of our favorite blogs, The Global Fly Fisher's article here. 

Hunters and Fly fisherman have always been close companions- or in the case of many outdoorsmen, one in the same. What better way to prevent waste and get free pelts and feathers than to team up with a hunter friend to get some fly tying supplies after their game has been processed? Our immediate family has always been ALL-IN on the catch-and-release fly fishing side (If you’ve been to our shop or the classroom in person you’re laughing with me about what an understatement this is) but our relatives have always been deer and bird hunters. Nancy’s brother raised his own turkeys. At Thanksgiving Mike would gladly take turkey feathers and wash them for tying. Same goes for buck tails, grouse, pheasant and duck. All great sources for fly tying materials, and in our opinion not a better way to honor the use of the whole animal and prevent waste. 

Speaking of preventing waste, in addition to hunted game, some tyers get their free (stinky or buggy) materials in need of cleaning from another, less talked about route. You don’t have to know any hunters or hunt yourself, all you have to do is watch the road. Mike (Dad) taught us kids at an early age to glue our faces to the window of the car and report any valuable sightings. Foxes, raccoon, squirrel, coyote,  and white tailed deer can be found on any given day on midwestern highways… as roadkill. Yes, it is sad that all American highways don’t include a wildlife lane or nature bridge for our furry friends to cross safely, but Dad taught us at a young age when life gives you pelts and feathers just laying on the ground, you’re smart to build up your tying supply kit (or 30,000 item inventory as the case may be. Just kidding, we don’t source the materials we sell in the shop from the road). The the point is, if you want to build your fly tying arsenal and you are not the squeamish sort of outdoors-person you can drive away with excellent fly tying materials if you just check over the shoulder and clean them according to our instructions when you get home. Plus, you can teach your kids valuable wildlife education and keep them occupied on road trips. 

Processing and collecting materials on the go is a different topic for a different day, but after watching our video tutorial, you can learn how to clean dry and store materials you obtain from a variety of sources. We get customers in the shop all the time who tell us fly tying supply horror stories about pets or pests getting destroying their fly tying materials! One person had their dog chew up their bird skins, another threw away a whole desk of supplies due to a rancid smell. While mildly unpleasant to talk about, “gobbilty-goo” as Mike says, is a part of life! Cleaning and storing natural hair and fur properly can prevent these issues in your fly tying toolkit. Follow the steps in the video to clean your natural hair and feathers that you get from a variety of sources, or purchase from our shop if you want to skip the steps and just tie flies.  



****Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies is a family owned fly tying supply company based in Geneva, IL selling products online at

****Subscribe to our channel if you’d like to see more videos with tips for tiers and get behind the scenes look at our process in the shop.

****Drop us a comment here, or on our video if you have questions or requests for future topics. If you’re a vegan or a PETA person we respect your opinions (and we’ve heard them already) you may like our selection of beautiful and cruelty free synthetic fly tying materials.








Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →