Jump to content


 Welcome to FlyTyingForum.com


FlyTyingForum.com is the largest fly tying community in the world and we hope you take a moment to register for a free account and join this amazingly friendly and helpful group of anglers. FTF has over 12,000 registered members that have made over 300,000 posts and have uploaded over 6,000 patterns to our exclusive fly pattern database!

If you are an experienced fly tier or just starting out FTF is the perfect place to call home. Click Here To Register for a Free Account

Fly Pattern Database / Browse by Topics / Browse by Material / Fly Tying Bench Database / Fly Fishing & Tying Videos / FTFCurrent(NEW!)
Featured Products: Fly Tying Hooks / Fly Tying Scissors / Waterproof Fly Boxes
Photo

Best feathers for small soft hackles


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Stoneflylama72

Stoneflylama72

    Beginner

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:35 PM

I need to buy more feathers for my soft hackle flies. I've been using a ruffed grouse skin that my father shot for a couple of years. I have picked it clean of 14-20 size feathers. I tie mostly 16s and 18s but a few 14s and 20s would be nice if they were in there too. I don't know exactly which feathers/skin to buy. Hen capes? Partridge? Starling? Which kind is best for 16s and 18s? Brown with some mottling would be nice but plain brown works. Thanks for any help!

#2 Flat Rock native

Flat Rock native

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,685 posts

Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:43 PM

I need to buy more feathers for my soft hackle flies. I've been using a ruffed grouse skin that my father shot for a couple of years. I have picked it clean of 14-20 size feathers. I tie mostly 16s and 18s but a few 14s and 20s would be nice if they were in there too. I don't know exactly which feathers/skin to buy. Hen capes? Partridge? Starling? Which kind is best for 16s and 18s? Brown with some mottling would be nice but plain brown works. Thanks for any help!


Bob White Quail breast feathers work well for me for 18-16-14's. Some brown, some gray mixtures. Starling is good too, quail a little easier when wrapping collars.

Kenduardo's Lure & Fly

Buffalo, Wyoming

Established: Circa "Whenever you see anything I have, ... that you must buy!"

 


#3 Rocco

Rocco

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 890 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 04:38 AM

Also look at the small coverlet feathers on wings of smaller skinned birds. And then try the traditional method of winding the hackle and thread together that is used in the Stuart's Black Spider video on Youtube,

 

Simplicity itself and it makes durable, very 'fishy' flies in small sizes.. 

 

Rocco 



#4 Stoneflylama72

Stoneflylama72

    Beginner

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 10:09 AM

Thanks for the replies. I have a source for free or very cheap Bob white quail birds. I might see if I can go to the farm and scavenge feathers as I'm not sure if I want to try and cure a skin myself though. And the method shown in the spider video looks like a great way to strengthen the little feathers for small flies. The starling feathers in video look like they make really nice soft hackles. I have seen and used a couple of methods where you take a bigger feather than ordinary and tie it in at middle of hook, bind it down forward to eye and tie back into a smaller soft hackle than the feather would normally produce. It works but is a little bulky and I'm not good enough to get the hackle exactly the way I want it using that method. Also can't put a bead directly behind hackle that way if desired.

#5 JoeBillingsley

JoeBillingsley

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 275 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 11:08 AM

I also like starling. I have three skins that I’ve bought - natural, olive, and dun. They have feathers that will work down to tiny flies.

Joe

#6 chugbug27

chugbug27

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 155 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 11:28 AM

There are some other methods to use large feathers on small flies that don't bulk up the fly... here's a link.
http://www.washingto...-hackles.81978/
cb27

#7 prairiedrifter

prairiedrifter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 12:04 PM

Whiting hen necks. I really like the CDL speckled ones.



#8 flyty1

flyty1

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 193 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 02:21 PM

I have found the most economical (and they provide a good range of sizes) are grizzly (and dyed colors over grizzly) of juvinile hen necks. These used to be priced in the $5 to $10 range. These days they may be more like $20 to $25 - but they are still a good buy considering how many feathers are on a good cape.

#9 Stoneflylama72

Stoneflylama72

    Beginner

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 06:16 PM

Went to the fly shop today and bought a Wapsi (imported) hen neck for about $6. It has some small and very small feathers to use. Wanted to buy the Whiting or Metz hen necks, they have a lot more small feathers and the feathers are a lot longer too. But $22+ tax was not in budget today, wanted to buy a few more items instead. I'm pretty addicted to these soft hackle flies so would like to pick up some better necks as well as starling in the near future.

#10 Stoneflylama72

Stoneflylama72

    Beginner

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 05 November 2017 - 06:28 PM

There are some other methods to use large feathers on small flies that don't bulk up the fly... here's a link.
http://www.washingto...-hackles.81978/

Thanks for the link. I like the method in the first video better than the method I have used. Looks to add less bulk since the feather stem isn't used. I will try it for sure as I like the color and barring on my grouse feathers better than the color of this imported hen neck.

#11 Shmang

Shmang

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 67 posts

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:12 PM

I am a huge fan of the JV Hen Hackles from Clearwater Hackle formerly Conranch Hackle - good stuff indeed.  I will be on vacation Thanksgiving week and will have 5 dozen soft hackles featuring these feathers in my boxes ready to do battle with some Mountain trout.  Only need a few a day but will have some to pass out to friends, family, and strangers.

 

http://www.clearwate...le.com/jv-hens/

 

 

Take care,

 

Shmang


Respect the resource

#12 flytire

flytire

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 9,143 posts

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:40 PM

dont rule out ostrich herl on the smallest of sizes

 

any size feather can be used if done right

 

cheaterone4blog1.png


Friday is my second favorite "f" word. Floccinaucinihilipilification is my first.

#13 phg

phg

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,334 posts

Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:55 PM

There are several sources of Ruffed Grouse skins.  I've gotten them from Badger Creek.  He shows grouse and Bob White Quail skins for $15.  I have also used snipe for smaller soft hackles.  Really, any game bird will do.  They all have similar quality feathers and in similar colors.  The patterns vary a bit, but they all work.

 

If you have hunter friends, that's even better. 



#14 flyty1

flyty1

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 193 posts

Posted 07 November 2017 - 06:18 PM

One thing to keep in mind about game bird feathers vs hen hackle - the stems of most game bird feathers are quite delicate and brittle, causing the tyer to exercise caution when winding. Hen hackles are more robust in the stem. I have also found I can often get two or more flies from one hen neck feather.

#15 Stoneflylama72

Stoneflylama72

    Beginner

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:09 PM

Yeah I'm still in the market for good feathers to tie 18s and 20s. The imported hen neck really only goes down to about 16s in useable quality feathers. I got the imported neck in a furnace color/pattern and I do like the darker center and lighter outer halo effect when wound on the fly. Worth keeping but no barring/mottling effect like game birds or grizzly.
Does anyone have any experience in the differences between Brahma hen necks, 4B hen necks, and regular Whiting type hen necks in regards to which has most small fly size feathers?