How to Dye Feathers Sunburst

Davie McPhail shows us how to dye strung hackle feathers Sunburst in this fly tying video tutorial. If you have not ventured into the world of dyeing your own fly tying material (yet), this video by Davie McPhail is a good introduction into the Art and Alchemy of dyeing fly tying material.

Dyeing Feathers

In a nut shell, here are the basic steps:

  1. Wash feathers in soapy water. Davie recommends Johnsons Baby Shampoo. This removes oils from the feathers and helps dye penetration.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 pints water to near boiling. For best results use distilled water.
  3. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dye, stir to dissolve.
  4. Add feathers, heat and stir for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons vinegar to set dye.
  6. Rinse feathers in cold water.
  7. Allow to dry (can blow dry).

What Dye To Use

Acid dyes are one of the best for dyeing natural fly tying material such as hackle feathers. Acid dyes sound scary but they are safe to use and are so named for the mild acid (such as vinegar or citric acid) used in the dyeing process.

Davie recommends Veniard’s dyes, which is an acid dye commonly used by fly tyers in Europe. Veniard dye is hard to come by in the states, and an excellent alternative is Jacquard acid dyes which are more readily available in the US.

Enjoy!

About the Author Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.

DavieMcPhail says

Hi jimthetelemech1977,

I’ll probably not be in the GAC over the next couple of weeks..
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family…

All the best Davie

DavieMcPhail says

Hi mrflyfishingak,

With capes just do as I did in the video and you should be fine, dying hair I keep it in the dye a lot longer just do as before but don’t rinse straight away leave it to steep overnight and then rinse and allow it to dry naturally, you’ve just got to be patient with it…

All the best Davie

DavieMcPhail says

Hi Daniel,

It’s about a pint and a half of water then as you can see a couple of glugs of vinegar to set the dye…

All the best Davie

DavieMcPhail says

Hi shanksi105,

The dyes I use are from Veniards which are the only ones that I have ever used..

All the best Davie

DavieMcPhail says

Hi tonysurface1,

I may do this next year, but I have nothing really special, glad you enjoyed the video..

Have a wonderful Christmas..

All the best Davie

DavieMcPhail says

Hi Kenny,

Hair can be a lot harder for the colour to set just do everything that I did then take the pot off the heat and put it somewhere out the way overnight, then rinse in cold water taking out the excess dye and allow it to dry naturally, Sometimes you may have to keep it in longer to get the correct colour you want, you just have to take your time and be patient..

All the best Davie

TheDarzea says

Thanks Davie, Now to go annoy the mother until I’m allowed full acess to the sink. Wait till she smells the vinegar! I pretty much talked myself into salmon fishing next year from tying the your salmon flies as they looked liked a challenge! Cant wait for the 1st Feb, the start of the Irish Salmon season! The Munster Blackwater is a 2min walk from the back door. Thanks for the video, I’m sure I’ll have another request for you by next week! Darragh