For those of you who are going to try to tie up the March Brown pattern using hen pheasant wing feathers, here's a little trick to rejuvenate feathers that might come in handy for you. I picked up this simple method of refurbishing feathers in Michael Radenich's book Classic Salmon Fly Materials
First, here's the common problem with hen pheasant that's sourced from some of the better known materials suppliers. These came from Hareline.
When you take the paired feathers out of the bag, you get something that doesn't exactly excite you; they don't look workable for wings; at least they didn't to me. From the bag:
Not very exciting.
So, I went to Michael's book and here's what he had to say:
1. get a container that's larger than the feather that you want to rejuvenate.
2. add warm water
3. add a capful of Woolite; stir it to mix the Woolite evenly in the water
4. put in the feather(s) that you want to rejuvenate
5. stir them slightly holding them only by the stems, not the barbs.
6. let them sit for about 2 hours
7. dump out the Woolite solution, replace it with clear warm water to rinse the feathers
8. dump out the rinse water
9. put the feathers on paper towel and let them dry for 2-4 hours (or overnight)
10. pass the dried feathers over a steamer (I use a portable hand steamer, but a tea kettle will work just as well). Don't keep any section of the feather over the steam for too long or it will damage the feather.
11. after steaming the feathers should be slightly moist. Use you fingers to smooth them back into shape.
12. once in shape, put them back on paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Here's the result:
Now I feel like winging with hen pheasant!