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Dun vs. Neck Capes

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32 minutes ago, flytire said:

well i ordered 4 whiting american hen necks and a full guinea fowl skin from feather emporium on may 24 and received them on may 27. pretty good service if you ask me. i personally have never had a problem with them.

however some have not been so lucky

Hopefully he got his act together...too many complaints for far too long.
That beautiful web site certainly deserves to be honored in proper fashion!!

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On 5/22/2022 at 5:18 AM, Moshup said:

Excellent. The OP should appreciate the extensive info you provided. Go with the boys that have

time on the water I always say. You’re one of them.


On 5/21/2022 at 8:20 PM, SilverCreek said:

As you know there are two hackle pelts, Capes (also called Necks) and Saddles.

The cape comes from the upper part of the chicken and has the broad range of sizes from smallest to the largest. Saddles come from further back and have longer feathers with a limited range of sizes.

Capes are more expensive than saddles.

However, the hackles on saddles are longer and you can tie several flies from one saddle hackle feather. So per fly, saddle hackle is the cheapest option.

The other difference between necks and saddles is that necks can tie a wide spectrum of sizes from the smallest to the largest dry flies. Saddles generally are centered on one size and with some smaller and large hackles so a saddle will usually tie 3 sizes of flies with most of the hackel center on the middle size. So when you buy a saddle you have to examine the range of sizes on the saddle.

Both hackles and saddles come in various "grades" and the higher the grade, the better the hackle. However,  hackles have increased in quality and the cheapest way to tie flies is with the lower grades of saddles for three reasons. Saddles are cheaper than necks,  saddles tie more flies per hackle feather than necks, and genetic hackles have become better overall so that lower grades of saddles tie good flies.

In your specific case, you CANNOT tie the patterns you want with one dun colored cape.

The PMD requires a the color of the particular PMD hatch you will be fishing, PMD naturals can come in a wide range of colors and with some size variations as well. They can vary from in the dun stage but also they are not the dun color in the spinner stage.

"One of the characteristics of PMDs that can be particularly maddening and confusing to fly fishers is color. That is, what color best matches the nymphs, duns, and spinners? Fly fishers, and especially fly tiers, spend a lot of time trying to match just the right color of the natural. But when you go into a fly shop there will be bins of PMD or other fly patterns of different colors. What gives? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve found from collecting aquatic insects for over forty years is that color is not a definite thing, even between individuals of the same species from the same stream, and PMDs seem to exhibit this color variability more than most.


So before you start ordering hackle you to analyse exactly what colors and sizes of hackles you need.

Make a list/chart of the colors and sizes of the naturals in both dun (subimago) and spinner (imago) stages so you know the color and hackle sizes you need. Then make a list/chart of the hackle you need to imitate the those naturals. Then see what grade of hackle you can afford if you bought necks or saddles for those patterns.

It sounds to me that you will need at minimum 3 colors - black for the winter midges, dun for the BWO and at least one other color for the PMDs.

If I were you I would look into buying individual necks and saddles instead of both a neck and saddle of the same color. And I would look at different grades of hackle. Jim's Fly Company has the largest collection of hackle that I have ever seen and I suggest you give them a look.



Thank you for taking your time to write this out...it was really helpful.

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