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Last night I was tying some gnat flies. A good for some relaxed tying, I decided to give my hackle pliers another try. I’ve always had trouble with them, both slipping and breaking hackle. One gnat I have to re-tie the peacock herl 3 times, twice the pliers slipped or broke a herl. I switched to my hands and finished the fly. So which begs the question, do you all use pliers? What ones do you use? I have the pliers I attached pictures of, I have been intrigued by the cottarelli hackle pliers, but also looking for other options as well. 

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I have tried a lot of hackle pliers. Most sucked in some way.

For hackling dry flies (hackle gripped by the tip), I use the pliers shown in your first picture. They work better if you grip the hackle across the stem rather than in line with it. The electronics test clips, like the ones in Pete's post, are handy for lots of things.

Here are some of the hackle pliers I have acquired over the years. Left to right In order of usefulness as hackle pliers. Some, like the Danville (Herb Howard style) second from the right, are great for really gripping things other than hackle. 

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Though expensive I’m very happy with my C & F design hackle pliers.

 

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Peacock herl can be very brittle and frustrating sometime regardless of whether you are trying to twist them on to a hook with hackle pliers or your fingers.  
Another vote for C&F Design hackle pliers as one of the best. 

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From left to right. 

1:Dry fly hackle when it's too short to hold in my fingers. I use these in line with the quill

2:Biots. I use these in line. The jaws were originally bare I added some heat shrink tubing so the jaws wouldn't cut anything. Sometimes I use these for soft hackles too, across the quill

3:Soft hackle feathers. These I use across the quill

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4 minutes ago, Bimini15 said:

What do you guys think it is difference that makes the C&F pliers work so well?

For me it is the fact that the hackle, or whatever is being held, NEVER slips out of the jaws. Additionally, they hold firmly without weakening the material being held. If the materials break near the hook it is likely due to either brittle materials or excessive pressure. A little practice should eliminate the excessive pressure issue however. 

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Is there some kind of coating or texture in the jaws?

I am asking because I would not mind to try some modifications on the pliers I have before I go out and spend on new ones.

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31 minutes ago, Bimini15 said:

Is there some kind of coating or texture in the jaws?

I am asking because I would not mind to try some modifications on the pliers I have before I go out and spend on new ones.

No coating or texture. The sides however bend away from each other after the contact point. See photos

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Some good pliers I would like to try, I will have to make an effort to use the pliers for more than just the peacock herl, but definitely going to look into the recommendations

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I pretty much only use hackle pliers for wrapping biots and small soft hackle feathers otherwise I use my fingers which work perfect for most things. Like everybody else I have every style hackle plier ever made because they all suck in one way or another. I don't and won't ever have hackle pliers that cost 45 bucks so maybe that's the problem in which case I'll never know because I found a great set for ten bucks each. I have settled on the Stonfo spring jobbers (don't know what they actually call them). The spring really provides the proper tension while easing my caveman like small motor skills. the Stonfos have been a game changer for me and have ended my search for a better hackle plier. Im sure they are not perfect but they are close enough for me and way better then any of the others I have. 

 

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I’ve been tying a lot of goose biot body flys the last few days, and I’ve had major frustration with my old style hackle pliers wrapping this things! The c&f pliers are on the radar for sure. I just ordered a tiemco bobbin to replace my forty something year old bobbin which has started very subtlety to cut thread. I guess I look at my buying tools as something to leave to my grandkids.

Mike

 

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