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Spey hackle Comparisons...

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I posted this on another site as a follow up regarding alternatives to heron for tying spey flies. The Lady Caroline pattern that I posted a week ago prompted me to look into alternatives to overly expensive and illegal heron plumes. The page they're on is a 8.5x11 for size reference. In the image below from left to right.....


- dyed blue ear pheasant

- bronze grade Whiting spey bird fur

- ring necked pheasant rump

- silver grade Whiting spey hackle

- burnt goose feathers




Some close ups.


blue ear pheasant




bronze grade Whiting spey bird fur




ring necked pheasant rump




silver grade Whiting spey hackle




burnt goose feathers




It would seem to me that the Whiting spey hackles are far and away the best. I haven't got prices from Piscator Flies but USA online retailers are asking around $30 a neck which is a bargain compared to blue eared pheasant. The bird fur appears to be the bargain of the bunch at about $8 for half a saddle. It could be used however it wouls seem to be better suited as a replacement for marabou.



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If you look at the silver neck spey hackle you will note that the stem is so fine that if you want more density in the fiber you can wrap two feathers together as one. The useable portion of each feather is also long enough to hackle even the largest Spey or Dee style hook with a singe feather. In addition, because they are so fine the feather lays as you want very easily and is easier to bury behind the ribbing. The Fish Fur feather tips work very well as throat hackle on patterns like the Sol Duc Spey as well as body hackles on smaller ( size 4 to 8) flies.

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I find the whiting spey hackle collapses when fished and doesn't have much substance since it so wispy. But that can be a good thing at times.


If want some "bulk" without adding to much "bulk," I wrap a pheasant rump hackle or bep feather first then wrap the whiting spey hackle.


Bleach burned ostrich feathers from a feather duster are also great for spey hackle.


Schlappen is another good one if you can find long enough fibers on the feather.


Male Wood duck rump is pretty interesting as well. Kind of like heron, but legal.

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