Pro Sport Fishers American Opossum Fur On The Hide
American Opossum under-fur has long been regarded as the best natural substitute for harp seal dubbing fur. The thick lustrous mid-length fur is the best for this purpose. Recently, Scandinavian fly tiers have found that American Opossum is a perfect winging material for Atlantic Salmon style flies. These same flies are becoming extremely popular for Pacific Northwest Steelhead.
There are some practical reasons why. While being fished, and after being pulled from the water, American Opossum holds less water than Rabbit Strip, Temple Dog or Finn Raccoon, so flies tied with Opossum are easier to cast, because they weigh less. In its natural state, American Opossum is translucent cream color with darker tips which gives each fly a slightly darker dorsal stripe. This coloration mimics many aquatic food items that predator fish feed on. Dyed colors are brilliant, especially when wet.
Each hide is meticulously fleshed and tanned and then sanded until it is paper thin, and very pliable, but still very durable. To use this material the hair is not removed from the hide. Instead the hide is trimmed into a boat shape, which is wider at the front and tapers toward the rear. This is called a "flag". Because the hide is so thin, this flag has a lot of movement when wet. Also because of the shape of the leather, the flag tends not to foul around the hook while being fished.
The size of the flag is determined by the length of the hair, and also by the length of the hide strip. "Flag Flies" have really caught on in the Pacific Northwest for steelhead and Opossum has nearly replaced Rabbit Strip for tiers in-the-know, because it holds much less water and is so much easier to cast. Possum flag flies have many advantages over flies made from other material.
Yup, fish eat 'possums!