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Best feathers for small soft hackles


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31 replies to this topic

#16 prairiedrifter

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:20 PM

I have whiting, brahma, Herbert/miner and coq de Leon hen. Whiting has the smallest feathers with the Herbert/miner not far behind. My CDL and Brahma necks are shorter but can tie small flies also.

#17 Stoneflylama72

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:22 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

Thanks for the information. Those JV necks look perfect. Other people must think so too since they are sold out on their site right now. They are kinda expensive for sure but if he was taking size 14 feathers from that far down on the neck there must be tons of 14-18 feathers on those necks.

#18 Stoneflylama72

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:26 PM

I have whiting, brahma, Herbert/miner and coq de Leon hen. Whiting has the smallest feathers with the Herbert/miner not far behind. My CDL and Brahma necks are shorter but can tie small flies also.


I was at a fly tying event last weekend and talked to a guy about the real small soft hackles. He tied me a #21 rainbow warrior soft hackle and used a Whiting hen neck for the feathers. Come to think of it he had a pile of those Whiting necks laying around in all the colors. At $22 each at the local shop it's not a bad deal after doing some research. Thanks for the reply.

#19 barrytheguide

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 10:48 PM

There are numerous books available about soft hackle flies and most detail numerous recipes for patterns detailing the hackles required. Some are illegal to own and impossible to get anyway. But many others are available if you just do a web search. Very few of them call for hen hackles, most are smaller feathers from the wings of birds such as Woodcock, Snipe , Coot, Starling etc. hard ones to obtain and illegal in the USA are Golden Plover and Euro Blackbird

#20 hankinsfly

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 11:43 PM

Starling is indeed a good choice for small soft hackles, but I have only ever seen them in natural black/iridescent black. They're an excellent choice for midge patterns and baetis, and remarkably strong. Nothing more beautiful than a nice grade "A" partridge, and as posted earlier, there are methods to apply a soft hackle feather besides a normal tip-first or base-first wrap. For me, the key to a good soft hackle is being tied sparsely.

#21 JoeBillingsley

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:12 AM

There are a number of places online that sell dyed starling skins. As I said earlier, I have a natural, an olive, and a dun and they cover most of the small soft hackles that I tie. But, you can get them in purple, yellow, rusty brown, gold, red, etc. The ones I have and the other colors that I have seen are beautiful.

Joe

#22 hankinsfly

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:18 AM

Thanks for the tip, Joe. Would you be able to provide a link to sellers?Also, does the dying process have any negative effect on brittleness of the feather?

#23 chugbug27

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:33 AM

Competitiveanglers.com has them, but Joe may have a better source for you
cb27

#24 planettrout

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 01:50 AM

I get my dyed starling from White Fox Fur and Feather Co. (Featherworld1 on Etsy) Pemberton, Minnesota. They used to be available at Bob Marriott's Fly Fishing Store here in Los Angeles. Now, this is how one gets them:

 

kMYjchl.jpg

 

Olive...from HERE:

 

https://www.etsy.com..._home_active_27

 

smUwYOX.jpg

 

 

Ginger (left) - Purple (Right)

 

 

PT/TB


Daughter to Father, " How Many arms do you have. How many fly rods do you need?"

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#25 JoeBillingsley

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:11 AM

Competitive Anglers and White Fox Fur and Feathers are, as stated above, good sources. Google “dyed starling skins” and you’ll find a few others. You need to be diligent because the more popular colors go pretty fast.

Joe

#26 johnnyquahog

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 10:41 AM

Funny - I was just thinking last night while tying a small soft hackle how under rated starling is.  I have a couple really nice partridge skins, a hen pheasant skin, a half dozen+ hen necks and they all work and provide me several lifetimes worth of soft hackle.  I recall the price tag on the natural starling was $6.75 so it can't get much better for the frugal tyer.  If I was on a particular kettle pond today and there was a little gray midge hatch going on then my first choice would be a purple and black or all black #16 soft hackle.  

 

Thanks for the tip on the dyed starling skins.  I never though I needed them but now they are on my gottahave list.



#27 TheCream

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:04 AM

Sort of along the lines of what flytire posted, this technique from Charlie Craven shows you that about any size partridge feather can be used to tie a wide range of soft hackles.  It works really well for small ones, I have used this technique a lot.  Skip down to like step 12:

 

http://www.charliesf...fm?parentID=155



#28 Bazzer69

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:36 AM

There are many feathers that are used for soft hackle flies, Starling, Blackbird, Coot, Plover, moorhen etc, some are illegal in the USA although if they are old they might still be legal. Generally most tradional sof hackled flies use covert feathers from the wings of small birds although some tie them in much larger sizes for Steelhead etc and use much larger feathers. Check the pattern you are wanting to tie and see what the recipe calls for.
Bazzer

#29 jalberts1

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:50 PM

I just got back from Kansas and was fortunate to shoot quite a lot of quail, best small wet hackle there is. BTW if you are wondering why there are no quail in the old traditional quail states, they are all in Kansas

#30 j8000

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:29 AM

Good for you.  Along with being good tying feather, they are the best tasting bird.  I might have to go shoot some more before the season ends.

 

Jeff