Tips for Dealing with with Snowshoe Hare's Feet
Published by Fly Tyer Magazine Winter 2004
"A Good Hare Day"

Always try to inspect snowshoe hare's feet before buying. This goes double for dyed feet. We've purchased-sight unseen-feet dyed dun that ranged from jet black to a sickly shade of pale lavender. Make sure the dye has penetrated beyond the fur tips into the hair shafts.

o Choose feet that have short toe regions. More often than not, these sections have limited applications.

o Carefully inspect the heel region. Look for feet having the longest hair with a good consistency of length. Press the heel with your finger; a thick, springy, cushioned feel indicates desirable hair density. A good heel looks something like a very dense patch of sculpin wool with fibers of uniform length. Larger feet tend to have more usable hair in this area than smaller ones.

o Isolating and clipping small bundles of material can be a clumsy procedure, primarily because of the shape of the foot. Unlike a flat patch of hide, the foot is curved from side to side, and the bones make it completely inflexible. Moreover, the fur tends to be short and dense.
Minimize the hassle by working from the side of the foot rather than clipping bundles from the center. First trim away the short, glossy hair that grows down from the top of the foot, exposing the hair on the edge of the sole. The hair on the edge, particularly in the heel region, is sometimes too short to use; save it for dubbing. Working from the edge of the foot gives unobstructed access to the base of the hair, making pinching and clipping a bit easier.

o To maximize the length of the material, clip the fur as close to the hide as you can. The longer the hair, the more versatile it is.

o Rather than trying to snip a clump of hair for each fly, clip a bundle large enough for two or three flies. Working from one edge of the bundle, separate out the quantity of material needed for a wing, tail, or whatever. The crinkled texture of the fur will keep the remainder of the bundle intact, ready for the next fly.

o When clipping the fur, there will always be stray fibers. Save these, along with excess material clipped during tying, short hairs pulled from the base of a bundle, or hair that simply sheds from the foot, for dubbing.

o You can dress snowshoe hare fur with floatant, but apply it very lightly; this hair mats easily