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use of certain classic fly tying materials creates an artificial demand for threatened species of birds in the tropics… FLY FISHERMEN AND FLY TYERS are typically deeply engaged individuals with an acute appreciation of the subtle beauty that exists in Nature and in its overwhelming diversity. Moreover, most of us are environmentally conscious to the point where we get involved in conservational causes, stock enhancement efforts - and not least animal welfare. However, when it comes to fly tying materials, it is difficult to know when and how to react and act. I have started to use more and more synthetic materials, and when I do buy natural materials, I make sure that I am 100% certain that they come from non-threatened animals that have been killed and handled soundly. (In this regard it helps having friends that are avid hunters). Moreover, I have started to ask the retailers and the producers of the fly tying materials some critical answers – not just to become a bit wiser myself, but also to let the market players know that they have responsibilities in terms of animal welfare and conservation. Whether or not you should do the same isn’t for me to assess. But under all circumstances, it is healthy to be a little critical and sceptical in terms of things that aren’t characterized by complete transparency. So keep this in mind the next time you sit down at your fly tying desk or pop your head in at your local fly tying shop. Awareness starts with curiosity! Use Synthetic Alternatives. There are lots of fly tying materials that make sense avoiding.

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For instance, there are so many different synthetic dubbing materials on the market nowadays, that it hardly makes any sense buying natural ones. As an example, SLF Dubbing is the perfect seal substitute, and it also doubles nicely as hare’s ear dubbing. The same thing goes for a lot of wing materials. Polar Aire and Poly Bear are just two examples that perfectly imitate the long, glossy fibres of a real polar bear. In much the same way, polar fox wings can easily be substituted with synthetic Polar Fibres without diminishing the effectiveness of the resulting flies. Generally, there are lots of synthetic alternatives to existing natural materials, and they are easy to get a hold of and fairly inexpensive. Even synthetic jungle cock feathers of great quality can be had nowadays – for instance the ProSportfisher Pro Jungle Cock HD. It is a photo-realistic feather printed on small plastic sheets, and besides being more durable than the natural feathers, they are also cheaper. Be careful with… Especially as a salmon fly tyer, you’re dealing with a lot of exotic materials that stem from endangered or threatened animals – especially birds. Cites, which is an organisation based on an international treaty from 1973 for the protection of critically endangered species, works to stop illegal trade with animals, furs, skins, and the likes. They certify quite a few salmon fly tying materials, meaning that – when you buy, for instance, a Cites approved cape - you can be absolutely sure that the materials are sustainable. This is the case with birds such as jungle cock, Indian crow, Guinea Vulturine, Satyr Tragopan, Argus, and Palawan – just to mention a few.

H2omagazine winter 2013  
H2omagazine winter 2013  
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