How to get a light yellow bucktail

Ray Bondorew calls for light yellow bucktail in his Yellow Rebel pattern. I’m sure light yellow bucktail exists, but I can’t ever recall seeing one at a shop or show. What’s an intrepid fly tier to do? Let the sun shine in! Here’s a yellow bucktail, color side out, taped to a south facing window in my house. It’s done when you like the degree of the bleaching. To quote Bob Dylan, “I never did engage in this kind of thing before,” but bucktail master Brad Buzzi confirmed with me at the International Fly Tying Symposium that it does work. Now all I gotta do is wait…

We’ll continue with the Traveling Wilbury member theme and say, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

16 comments on “How to get a light yellow bucktail

  1. George Baldwin says:

    Awesome tip, Steve, with some great musical references! I also check the brown side of the bucktails, the dye combines with the natural coloration to make some great hues that you can’t find anywhere else. I especially like the back sides of the yellow and green ones.

  2. Mark Brown says:

    I remember Ray Bondorew writing or saying that he put Bucktails on his car’s dashboard and left them there until they faded to the correct shade of pale.

  3. Bruce Bartrug says:

    Buy a white tail and carefully dye it. Might last longer.

  4. Jim Ducy says:

    Steve, have you tried onions skins yellow and water in a coffee can on top of a charcoal grill for a couple three hours and checking in the last couple hours for the degree of color you want it turns your buctail or or any natural material into light yellow with a hint of pale, pale green. A good source for a quantity of yellow onion skins would be to check at your local supermarket where they sell yellow onions by the singles and at the bottom there’s generally a whole pile of onion skins that they love to get rid of.
    The other source would be to contact the Fly box in the UK and ask if they can contact the person that does their dying for you and see if they could not get you the color you want. I believe the gentleman’s name is Bill Mallory. That does they’re dying. Good luck. Are the last thought why don’t you contract Ray and ask him where he gets his? Jim Ducy

    • Steve Culton says:

      Jim, I appreciate your suggestions! See my comment to Bruce (above), and while not the most timely, this is certainly the most simple solution. I’m going to play it out and see what happens. The onion skin thing is fascinating!

      • Jim Ducy says:

        Steve, I was wondering where you got the recipe for the yellow rebel? I own a book stripers and streamers but is currently in storage. So I looked the pattern up on the Internet and the color of the yellow. Siri calls for is medium phosphorescence yellow. Does your recipe That you use for this fly come from the book or another source?

      • Steve Culton says:

        Hi Jim, the entirety of my knowledge about the Yellow Rebel comes from Ray’s Stripers and Streamers. I’m curious where you found that information — I’m not even sure what phosphorescence yellow is, let alone medium phosphorescence yellow — so I did a Google search of “Ray Bondorew Yellow Rebel.” The first image that comes up is my tie for that fly from over a decade ago. If you filter the responses to all, the first hit that comes up is this article from today. The second is a post I made about the Yellow Rebel from Stripers Online, also from over a decade ago. I include the recipe verbatim for the book. Ray calls for “light yellow bucktail.”

        I hope that helps!

      • Jim Ducy says:

        I believe my secretary, Siri misinterpreted what I said. I said it called for medium fluorescent yellow.

      • Steve Culton says:

        Ray makes no mention of fluorescent yellow.

  5. Bob says:

    That’s a great idea

  6. bob says:

    You can also make(dye) pale yellow bucktails. Google-“how to dye bucktails with Koolaid.” I used lemonade flavored for mine. I did a half tail. 6 oz water/2 tbs. vinegar/2 paks Koolaid/followed directions and let soak overnite.Suggestion: if you do a whole tail,use at least 4 paks of Koolaid.Good luck.

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Bob, and thanks for commenting! My goal with the sun bleaching is to avoid having to go through the messy steps of dying, but if one is so inclined, that is surely an option. I appreciate you sharing your recipe and experience.

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