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Preparing duck flank feathers

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I'm wanting to start tieing more traditional Atlantic salmon flies using flank feathers from the various species of duck to make strip wings. My question is, do I need to do something to these feathers to make them more durable? Should I treat them with a spray artist fixatant like I currently use on various duck and goose wing feathers and turkey tail feathers, or just leave them untreated? It seems these soft flank feathers are fairly delicate and the fibers would want to separate if left untreated with something. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks for all your help.

Tom

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I never treat my flank feathers. To get wings that hold together you need to be selective about what feathers you use and what section of those feathers you use. I bronze mallard, for instance, there really is only a small section of each feather that's good for wings and even then you need to tie the slips in with your thread over the white fibers next to the shaft or the wing will split.

 

Personally I prefer my wings to split and separate, I think they swim better that way and I only tie fishing flies so looks don't matter. For the last few years I have only tied mixed or bunched duck flank wings, that is so much easier and separates the fibers before I even get my fly wet.

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I will give my uneducated opinion, for what that's worth. The fancy, traditional Atlantic salmon flies should be tied as art and if you handle them carefully, they will be fine. If you want to catch Atlantic salmon, use spey flies.

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