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vicrider

Grizzly Hackle the "0 Negative" of fly tying

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Sure, there's a lot of different color hackles out there but good old grizzly will work on almost any pattern. If the tail and body color are important in some flies, the hackle is the least "standout" color of any. In parachute patterns I do not think the use of grizzly would cost you a fish versus using the very rare and expensive Cree hackle. When one considers the bushy marabou tail and chenille body of a bugger does anyone thing hackle makes a difference? Many people don't bother with mixes hackle on an Adams and seem to catch fish regularly with just grizzly. Once you get down to midges from 20 and down do you think hackle color is important? Or hackle at all?

 

So, most of my tying is with grizzly. How about you?

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I think you're right, you could probably get by with grizzly on just about anything, light or dark. I remember seeing an article in Fly Tyer magazine a few years ago about a dry fly that could be fished as one of about 5 or 6 different types of mayfly dun, mayfly emerger, caddisfly, caddis pupa etc. by trimming various parts off or modifiying them with scissors. In that article, the author made the argument that if you were to use only one hackle color for everything, the logical choice would be medium dun, as it comes closest to spliiting the difference between all but the darkest colors. I think you could make pretty much the same argument for grizzly, especially if it was a dun grizzly.

I do tie my Adams flies with mixed brown and grizzly, but that's because I live in Michigan and the ghost of Len Halladay will come and haunt my mancave if I don't tie his fly properly. :) I've given up on the idea of Cree hackle--no way I justify spending that kind of money for flies. I would like to try some of the dark barred gingers that Collins Hackle offers to see if they'd serve as a subsitute for Cree.

As for your question, I have cape & saddle sets from Collins in medium dun, grizzly, brown, and ginger. I still have most of the ginger, purchased in the early 2000's. The medium dun neck is picked clean except for bugger-size feathers. I'm on my second set of both brown and grizzly. I should note that I don't tie that many dry flies anymore so a neck or a saddle lasts me a long time. :)

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use the proper colored hackle(s) for your museum flies or use whatever you like for fishing flies. who really cares?

 

what i tie with is totally irrelevant to anybody else

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I think you are right. I sub grizzly for a lot of different patterns and it works fine. One thing that I have done to get the "adams" effect, is I color the barbs on one side of the stem with a brown sharpie. This is a great hack that adds a touch of brown if you need it.

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Certainly for dry trout flies. Two insects that form a large part of our summer fishing here are the Hawthorn and Heather flies. Both are black, with a touch of red on the legs of the heather fly. On my dry imitations of both I use grizzle hackle. The explanation I give is I am trying to imitate the legs kicking and fighting in the surface, not just the insect. For dry flies this works, not so well for the wet versions of the fly.

 

Cheers,

C.

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I almost agree with you.

 

If I tie an Adams with just Grizzly, I call it a mosquito.

 

If I tie an Adams with Cree, I just call it a fly.

 

An Adams calls for a Brown and Grizzly hackle -- end.

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I think you are right. I sub grizzly for a lot of different patterns and it works fine. One thing that I have done to get the "adams" effect, is I color the barbs on one side of the stem with a brown sharpie. This is a great hack that adds a touch of brown if you need it.

Dude, awesome tip! Thanks for the idea!

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There are a lot of traditions and histories to the flies we use. Dan Cahill of Port Jervis, NY is credited with inventing the Cahill in 1884. Ray Berman is his book Trout in 1938 describes the fly, "If it was necessary to confine my assortment of flies to only two or three, this would be one of them."

 

The Cahill was tied much different then. The Cahill has been evolving. In the 1920 Catskills a tier Mahlon Davidson invented a fly called the Davidson Special. This could be one of my favorite forgotten flies. It is essentially a Light Cahill with a light green body. Very pale green. The Cahill's in some stores today are a poor example of the fly due to cost cutting and tier abilities. Many lack wings some are some kind of artificial material. I used to frown on dyed mallard being used instead of wood duck. Wow.

 

God willing and as long as my eyes allow, I love tying and fishing the under size 20 dry fly. I dub the bodies. Contrary to one other poster, I find the dubbing helps keep my small fly afloat better than just thread. I use mole, weasel, fine muskrat and mink under fur for my dubbing. Small fur dubs just as easy on a small hook as rabbit blends do on a size 14. I have the luxury of having whole skins so I can choose my dubbing.

 

Just as Davidson changed the Cahill, we are all able to substitute or change any pattern to meet our fishing needs, economical needs and material availability. Is it still an Adams? Not really, but if it catches fish and you enjoy what you do, that is all that matters.

 

I met a guy fishing the Wilson in North Carolina this year. I asked what he was using. He showed me a box and proudly exclaimed he tied all his own flies. He had a lot of eggs, Zebra midges and some wooly buggers. He proudly said he could tie down to a 20. He had some black thread midges with silver tinsel in 18 and 20. I asked if he tied dry flies. He said no they don't catch fish for him, hackle gave him trouble and because you have to have so much stuff, cause his wife doesn't want him to buy a lot of stuff.

 

That guy was right fly tying comes down to three things, ability, stuff and does it work. He was catching fish, having fun and not making the wife mad.

 

I like traditional ties. I was raised in the Catskills and had the opportunity to know several of the best tiers. Do I cheat the traditional patterns? You bet. I like my Adams with brown and grizzly hackle, but I use teal wings instead of grizzly hackle tips. One of my sons used to tie the Adams without the wings when he was young because he did not have the dexterity to tie in hackle tips. He could wind the hackle. He was very proud of the fish he caught. He never regretted the lack of hackle tips.

 

Tie what you want, but push your tying skills.

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troutguy, I admire your knowledge and tying abilities. Wings are one of the things that I just can't seem to get down right. I have tied down to a 26 with dubbing and hackle tip wings but most of the 24-28 I tie is just with hackle, no wings of any kind. I do tie some older classic wet flies with mallard wings, mostly in 14-18 sizes. I like to tie some of the classic Catskill flies just because when you get it right with the proportions right on (I don't get it often enough) it certainly does make a beautiful fly.

 

Cheech, that is a great idea for hackle. Funny that I keep a full jar of various colors of Magic Markers in fine and ultra-fine but never use them on hackle. I will now.

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Great thread to this point, and it's borderline comical how certain individuals are so rooted in their beliefs. Great thing about fly tying is that you can be...

 

I really am a believer in grizzly hackle and have utilized it in many patterns over the years, especially many emergers. The barring on grizzly (and many of its variants) truly gives the hackle that "proof of life" look that was mentioned by Bob Quigley, hence why I believe it is so successful on a variety of patterns.

 

I think there are multiple angles to examine in order to answer the question "Is hackle color important?" Few would argue that presentation has much more of an impact versus hackle color (especially on a fly such as the Adams), especially when you're thinking about flies as suggestive imitations. When talking with friends that fish rivers such as the Letort in Pennsylvania and Henry's Fork in Idaho, imitative patterns are the "go-to's" and hackle color enters the discussion and does make a difference.

 

With all of that said, cree does have a place in my tying, as do many of the other colors. Grizzly is far and away my #1, especially on parachutes and emergers, with a barred dun and barred ginger behind it. My hackle collection is one that I am quite proud of, though way more than I'll ever need in three lifetimes!

 

TC

Sure, there's a lot of different color hackles out there but good old grizzly will work on almost any pattern. If the tail and body color are important in some flies, the hackle is the least "standout" color of any. In parachute patterns I do not think the use of grizzly would cost you a fish versus using the very rare and expensive Cree hackle. When one considers the bushy marabou tail and chenille body of a bugger does anyone thing hackle makes a difference? Many people don't bother with mixes hackle on an Adams and seem to catch fish regularly with just grizzly. Once you get down to midges from 20 and down do you think hackle color is important? Or hackle at all?

 

So, most of my tying is with grizzly. How about you?

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