Natural vs. Synthetics. Some fly tyers will likely favor one heavily over the other, but for my fishing and the flies I tie, I use both materials with about a nearly even split. While synthetic fibers can be great for certain styles of flies and certain water conditions, bucktail is a material that any serious streamer tyer can't be without. I love the stuff. Used on many flies including famous ones like Lefty's Deceiver and the Clouser Minnow, it's undoubtedly a great material to tie with and catches a ton of fish.
What are some things I really like about tying streamers with bucktail?
Visibility: In low-vis situations, I want a fly that's more solid in appearance and shows a better silhouette. The various colors of dyed bucktail I use for my streamers offer really good contrast in the water and are my go-to fibers when there's reduced visibility because of water clarity and/or available light. I tie a lot with synthetic fibers too, but some of these materials are more translucent, thinner, and have more of a sheen to them which doesn't pop as much when visibility is reduced. If I'm fly fishing at night and need a straightforward baitfish imitation, I love a mostly-white bucktail streamer!
Taper: Bucktail has a natural taper to it meaning that it's thick at the base and thin/pointy at the other end. Along with this, all fibers aren't exactly the same length. Not only will these aspects help give a bucktail fly good swimming action, but also a realistic look since the fibers don't all end bluntly at the same endpoint. For tying a killer baitfish streamer, bucktail is awesome and naturally looks very "fishy" in the water.
It Varies: Bucktail can be found with different types of fibers like long, short, straight, wavy ,or curved. These characteristics make it great for crafting different sizes and styles of streamers. Want a streamlined fly that swims and darts well? Go with the straighter fibers. Want to build up a larger body profile? The wavier fibers will help you do that even easier.
Easy to Tie With: One thing I always notice when sitting at the vise and switching from tying my synthetic streamers to ones with bucktail, is that bucktail is just a little easier to work with for me. Certain synthetics can be thinner, more slippery, crinkly, and/or limp and just not quite as easy to precisely get on the hook and manipulate overall. Bucktail also flares up a bit when tied-in on the hook shank which makes trimming off the short leftover butt-ends pretty simple.
Need some fresh bucktail?