Ocean Hair

Ocean Hair

Andy Dear | Thursday, 28 January 2021

Any of you who have read my front page with any regularity will be familiar with my old friend who we call "Bubba". A couple of years ago Bubba called me one afternoon and wanted to know if my (then) 10 year old son was still tying flies. When I responded "yes he is" Bubba insisted that I make the trip up to his farm in East Texas so that he could give Jackson his collection of fly tying materials and tools. Since he was no longer tying flies due to arthritis, he wanted his collection to go to someone who could get good use out of it. Little did I realize that it was almost TWO TRUCKLOADS of materials. I guess when you've been tying 40 years you amass a serious quantity of stuff!

  The interesting thing about Bubba's "collection" was not only the sheer volume of feathers, fur and synthetics, but the fact that much of what was contained therein is simply not available anymore. The most interesting items are some of the synthetics that were popular back in the 1980s/90s but have been replaced by newer and in some cases better products. Notice I say "in some cases".

  Last month when I received my custom wake baits from Eddie Douglas I noticed that on the rear hook, he uses a hot pink piece of pvc tubing to add a bit of color to the rear hook. This pink tubing has been popular for a long time among slatwater lure fisherman, especially on gold and silver spoons as a colorful tail. But there was something about the lifelessness of the tubing that bothered me...I knew there had to be a better performing a better substitute.

20 years ago I started replacing the tubing on Johnsons Sprite spoons with red Krystal Flash, and while it does provide a lot of action on a spoon, the long term durability is not the best. So off I went digging through Jackson's inherited stash, trying to find something with more action and equal color. Bucktail, Saddle Hackle, Krystal Flash, Flashabou...all would make a decent substitute but lacked the combination of durability and liveliness I was looking for. Until I dug up a giant bag of synthetic material that had a tag on it called Ocean Hair. It was damn near perfect in both color and texture. Evidently, Bubba had been using it for Barracuda flies because of its combination of durability and lifelike action.....and of course, the Cudas loved the bright colors. I lashed some to a #4 Owner treble hook, and it was EXACLTY what I wanted. The problem is I can't seem to find this product on the open market! Not under the name Ocean Hair...or any other name for that matter. From the looks of it, the header tags on this synthetic look to be at least 30 years old.

  The closest seems to be products sold under the names Fishair and Super Hair. Both of these certainly look like worthy substitutes...perhaps even identical, but unfortunately, the aforementioned brands don't offer some of the more unique (read obnoxious) colors ol' Bubba had in his stash. I'd love to find some more of this stuff, as it really is much more coarse and durable than any of the newer EP type fibers which seem to have taken it's place in popularity. The upshot however is that after a bit of inventorying the various hanks of Ocean Hair, ol' Bubba had enough of this stuff to tie enough flies to catch every Barracuda from Islamorada to Key West and back twice over. It always pays to have good friends....especially when they're hoarders of unique and hard to find fly tying materials.

Hope your all staying safe and healthy,