How different are calf tail and buck tail?

Josh

Dead in the water
Staff member
Admin
For the purposes of adding on a tail to a fly, what is the difference between calf tail and buck tail? I don't happen to have any calf tail but I do have some buck. What else is a substitute for calf in this situation? Or what else makes a nice little tail (with a piece of flash in there)?

Bear in mind that I'm a crap-ass fly tier and am not particularly picky about this stuff as long as the fish don't care.
 

Josh

Dead in the water
Staff member
Admin
They are very different and bucktail is far superior
Okay, but this isn't really helpful in the context of my question.

The pattern calls for calf tail. I have buck tail. Can I use buck tail or is that too different? What else could I use if not buck tail that I might have kicking around? Or should I just go track down some calf tail? I can't imagine this the material selection matters all that much for this simple panfish popper I want to tie.
 
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Stonedfish

Known Grizzler-hater of triploids, humpies & ND
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You could use craft fur for a tail. Anton may work as well.
Calf tail is generally much shorter then bucktail and kind of has a wavy/crinkly appearance where bucktail tends to be straighter.
SF
 

Dr. Magill

Life of the Party
Forum Supporter
For the purposes of adding on a tail to a fly, what is the difference between calf tail and buck tail? I don't happen to have any calf tail but I do have some buck. What else is a substitute for calf in this situation? Or what else makes a nice little tail (with a piece of flash in there)?

Bear in mind that I'm a crap-ass fly tier and am not particularly picky about this stuff as long as the fish don't care.
Bucktail contains air in the fibers. Some fibers more than others depending on the tail and location of the fibers on the tail with the lower containing more than higher up

Calf tail is different
Doesn’t have the same properties
I’ve always heard that trying to make short Bucktail by clipping the clump in half is not a good idea
I also think it would depend on the application
Tails can be bunny
Fox
Hackle
All kinds of stuff
 

Zak

Legend
Forum Supporter
Okay, but this isn't really helpful in the context of my question.

The pattern calls for calf tail. I have buck tail. Can I use buck tail or is that too different? What else could I use if not buck tail that I might have kicking around? Or should I just go track down some calf tail? I can't imagine this the material selection matters all that much for this simple panfish popper I want to tie.
Snowshoe hare foot fibers from close to the toes are similar to calf tail.
 

Tom Butler

Grandpa, Small Stream Fanatic
Forum Supporter
I'll take a stab at it. Calf tail tends to be shorter, finer, softer, and more crinkly (kinky). Bucktail, longer, thicker, coarser, brittle, and larger hollow space inside? The calftail may appear fuller?
I bet you could substitute, and the fish wouldn't know. Or try deer, elk or moose. Maybe the new winner tie.
 

Tom Butler

Grandpa, Small Stream Fanatic
Forum Supporter
Nothing fancy. Just a Triangle Bug for bluegill.

You could use craft fur for a tail. Anton may work as well.
Calf tail is generally much shorter then bucktail and kind of has a wavy/crinkly appearance where bucktail tends to be straighter.
SF
I would think the artificial hair would sub well for that. Let me know, I'm be playing with stuff like that when the lake fills.
 

Matt B

RAMONES
Forum Supporter
Calf tail is the classic material for the post on a "traditional" parachute Adams. Bucktail would be a little weird there in most normal Adams sizes, since it is so much coarser. But for the tail on a panfish popper, I think either will work and look good.
 

Rob Allen

Life of the Party
To be perfectly honest what is pictured in that panfish fly looks a lot like bucktail not calftail
 

RCF

Legend
Fly looks very 'squishy and soft'. That is probably why calf tail is being called for since it is very soft also. After all, it is all about that 'mouth-feel' so the fish will not spit out the fly...
 

Stonedfish

Known Grizzler-hater of triploids, humpies & ND
Forum Supporter
Fly looks very 'squishy and soft'. That is probably why calf tail is being called for since it is very soft also. After all, it is all about that 'mouth-feel' so the fish will not spit out the fly...

Pan fish tend to inhale flies. That particular fly was designed by the originator so they wouldn’t / couldn’t inhale it and makes it easy to unhook and release the fish. Fun fly to tie.
SF
 

Northern

Seeking SMB
Forum Supporter
@Josh I'm pretty sure I've never strictly followed a fly recipe in two decades. It might matter for educated trout, but the panfish will not care what you use - if they're in a bitey mood they'll hit twigs tossed in the water.
They do seem to like colorful stuff, so softer, dyed bucktail fibers should work fine. I like Kreelex/Northern Lights fibers for topwater tails - like flashabou but with stiff fibers to add some body
 
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