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The guard hairs are much thinner than the quills and can be used for tying segmented bodies on small dry flies. They can be used for tails, legs and antennas. The guard hairs are tapered for a touch of realism. Porcupine guard hairs can be dyed different colors to commendatory whatever you are tying. They can also be colored using a permanent marker pen.
A good substitute for porcupine guard hairs would be moose mane hairs which are more readily available and will cost less.
If the porcupine quills are old or have been improperly processed they could become brittle, which would make them unsuitable for most fly tying purposes. Usually this is not a problem, but not out of the question.
A porcupine skin would last most fly tyers a lifetime and while they are getting rarer it is still fairly easy to acquire. Most fly tying shops will not have them but if you know any hunters then your odds went way up of finding one. A search of the Internet should also produce results.
Should you come across a porcupine skin the best way to remove the quills is throw a blanket or towel on it and the quills will attach themselves to it.
If acquiring porcupine from a hunter then precautions need to be taken to avoid insects or other critters that could infest your other fly tying supplies.FLY TYING HAIR AND FUR CARE
Also check the section on feather care and storage for more ideas pertaining to this subject
FLY TYING HAIR AND FUR
Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.
FLY TYING HAIR AND FURS