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haziz

Soft Hackle?

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I would like to tie some soft hackles, particularly a partridge and orange. A couple of questions:

1. For the hackle, which partridge feather is traditionally used? Are these from a cape, saddle or just random body feathers? Do you buy an entire partridge skin or do they sell capes and saddles, or just random feathers? Which partridge species? Hungarian? Gray (which I think is the same species as Hungarian partridge)? Does feather color matter? If I substitute hen for the partridge, do I get a hen cape or saddle? Again, would color matter?

2. I realize that traditionally this was tied with silk thread. I am assuming that any "modern" thread can be substituted instead? If so, would you use 6/0, 3/0 or other? I would presumably aim for a slightly dull orange color.

I am planning on tying in sizes 12-18. Does that sound reasonable?

Thanks

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I usually recommend the whole skin it will give you a better range of sizes 16-18 from the neck around the head and larger body feathers. You can use many different birds partridge is the choice for the barred feathers but woodcock, quail, snipe, and starling are used a lot also. Partridge is getting expensive 35 to 45 for a #1 skin don't be afraid to try other birds. tie it sparse usually no more than 2 turns and most times I strip one side off the feather to keep it sparse and so it lays better.

I use silk thread from Jo-Ann's  fabrics but its your fly use what you want. Single strand from 4 strand floss, Uni stretch, or color of your choice thread. Orange, green, claret, crimson, & chartreuse are my preferences. My favorite is claret and starling I take the starling feathers from the wing shoulders with the iridescence. It is a little darker fly than partridge and orange and I like to have a few of both. 

you size ranges are good.

Got to remember to bring my camera back from the camper so I can post a few pictures.

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3/0 is to big I don't use 3/0 for anything even my large buck tails. It looks like corded rope. I use 6/0, 8/0, UTC 70 and sometimes 140 for wet flies. Buy the whole skin, it will last forever and give you great range. I also like starling. A simple spider tied with black thread and a couple wraps of a black starling feather has recently become one of my favorites. Quick, simple and very effective. It won't win you a tying contest but it will outfish most flies.  

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A hen cape could also be used.  Depending on the type of flies you anticipate tying in the future several other styles of flies can be tied from the hen cape.

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Another vote for a full partridge skin. A worthy investment for the long haul.  Hot orange and I like UTC 70.

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 Hen fishes just as good, the fish don't know your life story of hackle selection.

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Traditionally, a "mottled but not barred brown feather from the middle of the back".   If you're going to substitute some other thread for silk, look for one that's rust brown when wet. 

I'm not saying that a gray feather and a bright orange thread won't catch fish,  just that the above describes a traditional P&O.

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I do agree with the whole skin purchase.  If a partridge is a little out of your price range you can use quail as a good and cheaper substitute (about a third the price).  And be aware that newer materials vs. real silk does not always give the same results - dry they look the same but wet there is a difference in many cases.

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I had a bunch of duct body feathers given to me. Have tied many soft hackles with them and the fish still bite them.

You can see some in the August flies.

 

Rick 

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