I honestly felt the need to get better results from the natural materials that I used to tie flies. I learned all of the mistakes from what was, and still is, currently out in the marketplace. One example was the poor quality of quills. Due to excessive bleaching pre-packaged quills cracked constantly due to over-bleaching and the colors were not to my liking. I am not a production fly tyer but just another obsessive compulsive vice rat. I simply want my color close to what the naturals color represents.
above: The Biot on the left was dyed to “med-dun” by myself,
the one deemed “med-dun” on right by supplier.
Notice the white streak down the middle of the one on
the right where the dye did not take.
Biots are typically dyed as a whole feather by the suppliers and the dye never really soaks into the inside portion of the turkey or goose feather. What you end up with is a biot that has coloration on both outer edges but fades into an anemic color towards the center of the biot (see above photo). Eventually back in 1995 out of frustration I broke down and started dying my own biots among other materials. I tye lots of flies with both biot bodies and wings, it is a great medium that has a waxy sheen much like the naturals (Caddis, and Mayfly patterns).
above: These biots I dyed to a warm medium dun color that I most
often use for Hendrickson patterns and Sedge patterns. This is accomplished by first
dying grey, then over dying with Rit Tan.
Dying Biots: I have managed to create recipees for smaller and more color fast batches of biots using a large tea infuser and some simple paired down techniques.
3~ Find a 5 cup Pyrex measuring cup fill it with 4 cups of water and put it into the microwave for about 30 seconds. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 150 degrees. Remove the now heated water from the microwave.
4~ Mix in one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and one tablespoon of your desired liquid Rit color. I mix all of my Rit Dyes to get my desired color palettes. I mix a concentrate of powder Pearl Gray #39 because Rit does not manufacture this dye in liquid form, they never have.
5~ Mix the contents thoroughly and place your infuser filled with the biots into the mixture and agitate it for several minutes. (above photo)
6~ After several minutes immerse the infuser in cold water (below), this acts as a stop bath for the dyed biots.
This is a quick and easy way to dye limited quantities of biots with great results. Again I am not a production tyer so I have managed to pair down time and cost expenditure greatly. Its simple and somewhat relaxing to do in my down time during the winter months.
~Clint Joseph Bova