The cute little rodent in the picture to the left known as a porcupine. The porcupine inhabits most of the upper regions of North America and can be seen roaming about usually in early evening and morning hours, as it is mostly a nocturnal creature .
I learned sometime ago about tying with porcupine quills reading an article about extended body flys . But was more interested in tying with the much thinner guard hairs and smaller quills to create segmented bodies on small dry flys.
So I set out on a hunt to find if there was an available source for these quills online. The only source for dyed porcupine quills was from Rob McLean in the form of McLean's Quills. Which are great quills to tye with but got costly quick as I was tying dozens of flys with them.
One day my fellow fly fisher,fly tyer and friend Jessy tossed out a great idea.. To keep a eye out for some road kill rodents of the porcupine persuasion . We were on our way to fish Catskills and it was in early spring so a perfect time to find one roadside, as they are stretching their legs from the long winters nap. It wasn't long before we found one Jessy was driving so she pulled over, we both got out and ran like little kids running to pick up the candy as if it were falling from a piñata.
When we got to the little guy that found his fate beneath the wheels of a car , we each got out a zip lock bag which we were carrying for just such an event. We each plucked the quills we wanted to tye with, there are many different sizes and lenghths and hundreds of them , so it wasn't long before we had our fill of porcupine quills.
Once they are dyed and dried it's time to tye ! I use porcupine quills in many of my standard dry fly patterns as well as parachute flys. I have posted here a few examples of my favorites to tye sulphurs and olives.
As you can see porcupine quills create a beautifully segmented body with a great two toned appearance. They are very durable as porcupine quills are very strong and bite resistant.They float like a cork and the fish love them!