This step-by-step guide will teach you the ins and outs of how to use a hair stacking tool.

If done correctly, it’s a fast and rather unassuming process. But, to the beginner, it might seem a little complicated. Follow along and have a look at the attached video to master this tool in no time.

I always struggled to tie dry flies that look the same that those in the books. Looking back at it, avoiding the use of a hair stacking tool made life harder than it should have been.

The moment I started using a hair stacker I immediately saw results in my dry fly appearance and effectiveness.

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What Is Hair Stacking?

Hair stacking is the process of aligning the tips of hair or other fibers. This is essential to create neat and well-balanced flies. A hair stacking tool makes this process simple.

fly tying Hair stacker

In essence, the hair stacking tool is an open-sided cylinder that fits into a base. The fibers are placed into the cylinder and base. The tool is then tapped against a solid surface, which aligns the tips to the bottom of the base.

Once the cylinder is removed from the base, the aligned fibers are revealed.

A hair stacking tool is used to create dry fly wings and tails, such as those found in the Stimulator and CDC & Elk patterns.

cdc elk fly in a vise

When creating collars on large deer hair streamers, such as a Dahlberg Diver, a hair stacking tool is used to align the fibers. This not only makes for a more pleasing look, but it ensures that the stability of the fly is correct.

I also make use of a hair stacking tool when tying synthetic saltwater patterns.

Recommended Fly Tying Hair:
XFISHMAN Bucktail Hair Assorted

What Hair Stacker Should You Buy First?

To start out with I recommend making use of a medium-sized one. With a medium size hair stacker, you’ll be able to tie large deer hair streamers to smallish dry flies. Once you’ve mastered the tool, go out and look for more specialized hair stackers.

Recommended Hair Stacker:
Dr. Slick Hair Stacker 

How To Use a Hair Stacking Tool Video Thumbnail
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Let's Get Started!

How To Use a Hair Stacking Tool

Below is a step-by-step guide to teach you how to use a hair stacking tool. To practice, make use of a cheap section of deer hair.

Step 1: Cut Off a Section of Hair

Select the desired skin and pinch the tips of the hair between your thumb and forefinger. Cut the desired amount of hair from the skin with a scissor while maintaining the pinch on the hair fibers.

hair stacking step 1 cut hair

Step 2: Remove Loose Fibers

Still pinching the tips of the hair fibers between your thumb and forefinger, pull out any loose fibers and tuft from the base of the hair with the opposite hand.

Transfer the hair to the opposite hand, gripping the base of the hair between your thumb and forefinger. Now, pull out any short and damages fibers.

hair stacking step 2 remove excess

Step 3: Insert The Fibers Into The Tool

Make sure that the hair stacking tool is assembled and is standing on a level surface. Place the hair into the hair stacking tool, tips first.

Be careful to keep all of the hairs together as they are placed in the tool. Once the hairs are securely in the tool, you can remove any rogue fibers from around the tool.

hair stacking step 4 place hair in tool

Step 4: Tap The Hair Stacking Tool

Grip both the bottom and top parts of the hair stacking tool. Tap the base of the hair stacker (usually covered with felt or cork) on a hard surface. This will align the fibers in the tool.

You shouldn’t need to tap too many times. Usually two or three light taps will do the trick.

hair stacking step 5 tap the tool

Step 5: Open The Hair Stacking Tool

Very gently, turn the hair stacker on its side (horizontal). Slowly pull the top and bottom sections of the tool apart to reveal the aligned hair inside. 

Set the bottom (base) part of the tool aside, while being careful not to let any of the fibers move or fall out of the other part of the tool.

hair stacking step 6 Open the tool

Step 6: Pinch The Hair Tips

Pinch the aligned hair tips between your thumb and forefinger and remove the fibers from the tool.

While doing this, be gentle and do your best to ensure that all of the fibers remain aligned and stacked neatly.

hair stacking step 7 pinch and remove the fibers from the tool

Step 7: Transfer The Hair To The Tying Point

Transfer the hair to the desired tying in point while maintaining the pinch.

While keeping the hair stacked and even, you can now tie them onto the shank of the hook and continue tying your fly.

Place fibers on tying point

The Hair Stacking Tool

hair stacking step 6 Open the tool

Now You Know

How To Use A Hair Stacking Tool

Getting to grips on how to use a hair stacking tool is quite simple. The key is to move slowly, especially when removing the aligned fibers from the tool.

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How To Use A Hair Stacking Tool A Step-By-Step With VideoHow To Use A Hair Stacking Tool