When I started to tie flies there were little if any synthetics to tie with. Fly bodies were constructed of either Chenille, a strand of three or four ply wool yarn or animal fur minus the guard hairs. The underfur of beaver, muskrat, seal, fox and hairs ear etc was pulled out and dubbed onto the shank. Eventually, I read somewhere of cutting the fur from the hide and putting it into what was then new in itself…a coffee bean grinder. This worked well and generated spiky dubbing blends. When new sparkly synthetics came about I cut small pieces into the fur pile and blended it all together for fur with flash. And, as you can imagine, this was all available in short order, mostly rabbit fur with some synthetic flash.
Today, many tiers never buy or acquire fur unless it is that small plastic envelope on a hook in a fly shop. Gone are the days of blending your own furs…or is it?
“Materials vendors don’t cater to guys that tinker, and that single-shade pack of rabbit would work well on a small dry fly, but we’re cooking up something with lead and multiple X’s of hook shank. Two bucks worth of bunny bottom just don’t cut it…” http://singlebarbed.com/2009/01/29/nothing-makes-the-fur-fly-like-using-the-wifes-coffee-grinder/