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fbhenry

Best investment practice in hackle

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Hi all,

 

I'm not really a beginner, because I have been tying since about 1987, but I've been very off and on over the years--intense all-day-everyday spells alternating with everything gathering dust in a plastic storage bin for years. As I have been acquiring materials again over the past several years, the one nagging issue is the cost of hackle.

 

Clearly it has gotten much more expensive. The old Metz capes I have still have like a 12.95 sticker on them. And I know this topic is covered ad nauseam. Even so, after relentless googling I just can't figure out the best approach that won't break the bank.

 

I want to tie mainly dries, size 12 and as small as 24. A cape will have some 24s on it but not many (correct me if I am wrong). A saddle will mainly have a narrower range of sizes. So if I am out to spend, say 150 bucks, and to replace my old moth-eaten Metz capes, is the best approach to start with a full Whiting brown cape, a full Whiting grizzly cape, and a couple Whiting 100s in midge sizes? I saw a Cree on ebay for 140 but I'm not sure about all the cree hype. I do like to tie small.

 

I don't really want to buy half cape starter packs because I will be doing this way past my mid life and want to have the stock. So bronze grade?

 

I do apologize if this is annoyingly simplistic to all of you who regularly shop for materials, but I would appreciate the guidance.

 

Thanks in adavnce. I mostly lurk but you guys are the best source of info on the net.

 

Best,

 

Fred

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Thank you flytire. I have heard of collins but it isn't generally available on the sites I frequent like stockard

 

I meant to say I will look at their site. Those prices seem reasonable.

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If a call to Charlie Collins doesn't work out, look for Whiting Pro-Grade half capes in the colors that you want. Even pro-grade feathers will have some of those smaller sized feathers that you're looking for. Whiting is simply the best hands down as far as dry fly hackle goes. You may have to shop in more than one place to find all of the colors in stock, but that's the way I'd go. If you find after buying some that you still need more super small sized feathers, you can always get a 100 pack as a supplement.

Pretty much the only way to get in touch with Collins is by calling him. Tell him what you wrote here and see if he can supply half capes. If you're just tying for yourself, a half cape will last a long time.

 

Edit: I focused on half capes because of the approximate amount that you're looking to spend. You can probably get very close to six half capes instead of three, which would pretty much cover just about any hatch in general.

 

Regards,

Mark

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fbhenry, don't give up on those old Metz capes, unless the feathers have all been damaged by the moths. If you're finding the stems are becoming brittle and breaking as you begin wrapping them on a fly, the feathers are still serviceable if you first hydrate the stems. I have quite a few old Metz necks and for specific flies still acquire one now and then.

 

Jeff

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I have Metz capes and saddles that are marked 9.95, and they are still good to tie with. Back in the 1980s, Metz saddles were just right for tying the ever popular woolly buggers. I tied thousands in those days, not so many now. Whiting has plenty of lower cost options, that are just fine to tie with. For size 24, you will be pretty hard pressed to come up with a saddle with many that size. I have saddles that will get down to size 22 and 24, but only on the last inch or 3 of each hackle. I start by tying larger flies, like size 18, then 20 I can usually get three of each in this size, and one or two smaller from one feather. These are #2 grade Whiting saddles, and maybe 1/4 of the feathers on the outside edges are that small.

 

It really helps to shop in person or deal with someone directly when buying or ordering hackle.

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As always, you all are a cornucopia of information. I haven't thrown out the old Metz capes, but the quality of hackle I see online in videos makes them look unsatisfactory. I do realize they still have some good feathers and won't discard them.

 

Aside from an Orvis 5 minutes away, which is a bit thin on capes/saddles, Shannon's is the closest (an hour away) that I could go to inspect by hand, so I typically buy online.

 

Will look into Collins and consider the Whiting pro grade (which I think is just fewer feathers than bronze?) and some midge size 100s I think.

 

Again, many thanks for the responses.

 

Fred

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Charlie Collins doesn't do internet very well. A phone call is still the best way to get a hold of him. His capes are probably the best value in the business. They aren't as large nor as dense as Whitings nor can you tie 5+ flies with one feather, but for most tyers, those aren't really issues. (Whiting saddles are unmatched by anyone, but that's not what we are talking about.)

 

Bill Keough also has some nice capes and he is also a bit less expensive than Whiting, and more readily available than Collins.

 

In modern capes, the difference between a #1, #2, #3 and Commercial grade has to do with the density of feathers and size of the cape, not the quality of the feathers. All the modern genetic capes will tie the range of flies you want. Also, Charlie Collins told me that if you will tell him what size you tie the most of, he will try to select a cape that has more of that size on it. This particularly works for size 12, 14 and 16. The smaller sizes are always more limited.

 

I use mostly #3 and Commercial Collins capes, and have never had a problem finding the size feather I wanted.

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I have some skilton hackle of eBay, and I am happy with it. For example I bought a steel blue dun dry fly saddle for five dollars, and a nice grizzly for thirteen.

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I have some skilton hackle of eBay, and I am happy with it. For example I bought a steel blue dun dry fly saddle for five dollars, and a nice grizzly for thirteen.

Care to get a little more specific about their hackle? Sizes, length, stiffness, quality? I haven't heard of them and it's hard for me to judge from a photo on eBay.

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Care to get a little more specific about their hackle? Sizes, length, stiffness, quality? I haven't heard of them and it's hard for me to judge from a photo on eBay.

Sure, the sizes are listed on eBay. Length of hackles is typically 8-10. The fibers on most of my saddles are pretty stiff, but one (of four), a cree-ish variant, is very stiff and prickly. Quality overall may not quite be the same as Whiting, but for the price of one nice Whiting saddle, you can buy every color of Skilton you would ever need.

 

Plenty of feathers for the price, this one has been picked through some. post-62126-0-69283000-1511922447_thumb.jpeg

 

Barb density. post-62126-0-90918500-1511922485_thumb.jpeg

 

Showing the hackle when wrapped.post-62126-0-11356000-1511922562_thumb.jpeg

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