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Dallasblues

Handling pheasant tail?

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Hey folks! I’m fairly new to tying but have tied a fair amount of woolly buggers and partridge soft hackles with some success. I’ve recently started using pheasant tail. So far I’ve tied a few of basic pheasant tail soft hackles with varying results. I’ve gotta tell ya though... pheasant tail is difficult for me to handle. I’m having a heck of a time keeping the fibers together when wrapping around the shank of the hook. Things separate or just all together come loose from the others. I can’t seem to get a good grip using hackle pliers either. And capturing it with the thread??? Oh man! Things often come unraveled there too. Any tips as to how to turn these fibers without every thing going haywire? 

Here’s one that wasn’t a complete disaster. Oddly enough it was my first attempt. They got worse after that! Ha!

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Any input would be appreciated!

 

Thanks!

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Ditch the hackle pliers that's 98% of your problem. Watch the Tim Flagler video (American pheasant tail nymph) for the remaining 2%. Note how he uses fingers from both hands to wrap the fibers. 

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22 minutes ago, Poopdeck said:

Ditch the hackle pliers that's 98% of your problem. Watch the Tim Flagler video (American pheasant tail nymph) for the remaining 2%. Note how he uses fingers from both hands to wrap the fibers. 

Yeah... I gave up on those quickly. They just couldn’t grip the fibers well enough anyway. I’ll try that method in the video. I tied a couple today that went alright. I’m sure practice will be the key. 

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Many of the side feathers on the tail just don't have long enough barbs to make it easy to use.  The center tail feather will have the longest barbs.  Turkey tails are longer and might be easier to start learning with.  I use Turkey Tail most of the time on larger nymphs.  

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unfortunately I have fat and arthritic fingers.   I use mini-test clips as hackle pliers as hackle pliers.  A couple of  suggestions is use the longest fiber possible on the feather.   Use the shorter fibers for the tails.  Tie in the tails separately.  Tie in your wire.  Based on the picture you posted, see if you can find some thinner wire.  If you have a an old pair of IPod or similar ear plugs around, they are a good source of thin wire.  Pick 3 or 4  fibers, depending on how thick a body you want.  Lay the tips along the shank and wrap them back to the tail.  Once you decide on what to use to wrap them, wrap them forward to where the thorax will be.   A fairly simple soft hackle PT nymph.

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Try when you tie in your pheasant tail to leave the thread at the back of the hook.  Then, as you wrap forward the thread will help hold the fibers in place.  The thread will be in the right place when you are ready to tie it off.

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i wrap a lot of materials using hackle pliers with great success. don't give up using them

with age comes arthritic and sometimes trigger fingers, often with ridicule. more power to those who haven't experienced that yet

everybody's hands and fingers don't always work like when we were in our early years so we tend to use whatever method makes it easier for us to tie flies 

after tying in your pheasant tail fibers, make a twist the fibers a turn or two prior to wrapping forward

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A VERY thin layer of super glue added to the shank just before you wrap the feathers helps out -BUT keep it thin unless you want to cast yourself with the fly!

Kim 

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4 hours ago, flytire said:

make a twist the fibers a turn or two prior to wrapping forward

Yes, that's how I do it, also when winding on unruly floss.  The light twisting keeps them from separating.  You may have to unwind a bit as you go so as not to wind the twist onto the shank.  Also, I've found that using the plunger style test clips as hackle pliers tends to keep the in a bunch better than the traditional ones.  

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