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Old 03-18-2010, 07:14 PM
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Default Folding Hackle

I have seen this technique used a couple of different times for wets and the ending result is great. But I just can't seem to get a handle on it. How exactly am I supposed to be doing it?
Thanks, Cabot
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

These tips are some of the ones that helped me. I've only been tying about 1+ years so maybe the veterans will jump-on with the good stuff.
Soft hackle naturally wants to fold toward the concave side the of feather so that side is aimed toward the bend. Tie the soft hackle in by the tips. That does a couple of things. You are wrapping the most flexible part first. The barbs get longer as you wrap forward which is what you want.
Now to tie it. You pull back barbs on the feather shaft so that just a few short ones still aim down the shaft. Trim these back to the shaft so that you will tying in the shaft. Hold it straight up and down on the near side of the shank tip down; concave side back. Tie in the tip with thread wraps. Put hackle pliers on the big end. Wet your fingers and stoke the barbs (both sides of shaft) toward the rear. Sparse is better on wets so only plan a turn or two stoking the barbs back each turn. Most soft hackle is fragile so don't apply too much tension with hackle pliers (if it breaks best to start over, for me anyway). Tie it down. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

This as well

Folding hackle

Hope it helps. I struggled with this for years.
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Old 03-19-2010, 02:55 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

kerry.
thanks for the video I have not seen that before. That is not the way I was taught but I am sure going to try that out this evening at the bench. I will let you guys know what i think. Fred
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Old 03-19-2010, 03:08 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

I've been using it on all my folded hackle. Not the only way, but hey it works for me.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:47 AM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

Yeah, I've tried it since your thread and it works great. Have to get back to using it all the time. Just have to remember it.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

i do similar, tie in at tip, use few barbs, only a couple turns. but when it comes to the folding, I've found that I like to do it a certain way. I fold the barbs just slightly so they aren't all over the place. then i hold only the barbs on the far side of the feather and pull slightly as i turn with the hackle pliers. This makes the barbs on the side close to you stand out much more perpendicular, even when you arent using a thorax. give it a try. i'm sure you'll come up with your own methods that feel comfortable to you.
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

I agree with what Jimmie has to say in his first post on this thread and the tip in Kerry’s post is a good one. I fold my hackles a little bit differently, which I’ll try to describe below.

But first, a little on how we got to the concept of the folded hackle. Outside of it being a somewhat common practice for hackling wet flies; particularly soft hackles; what they used to call “North Country Spiders”, the need for folded hackles arose because of the need to simulate the gills and legs on larger saltwater patterns; particularly Salmon Flies. What was needed was a means of increasing the density of the hackles on these flies; so that the structures that were trying to be imitated would stand out more prominently.

The original technique to achieve this increase in density was to take two hackles, strip the barbules (barbs) off the same side of both hackles and tie them on the hook; one on top of the other, as a pair. Then these “doubled” hackles were wound onto the hook and the desired density was achieved. The original doubled hackle technique probably dates to pre-1800 and was certainly in common use by the mid-1800’s.

Somewhere along the line, someone realized that if they could fold the barbs back on one another, then they could achieve the same barb density using only a single hackle and so the concept as well as the practice of the folded hackle was born. The folded process was in common use by the late 1800’s and remains with us today.

Here’s how I do it:

First off, I’m a righty, so what I’ll have to say below applies to a person who will use his right hand to tie in the hackle and to wind it onto the hook.. If you’re a lefty, them simply reverse the hand positions below.

1. Select the proper sized hackle for the hook that you plan to tie the pattern on. I know, sounds pretty basic, but if you don’t get the hackle size right, then even if you do a great job folding the hackle and winding it onto the hook, you won’t get the effect that you’re looking for in the finished fly. So, to avoid disappointment at the end, take the time to size the hackle properly at the start.

2. Hold the hackle tip firmly between the right thumb and forefinger; shiny side facing you. Place your left thumb and forefinger directly below your right and stroke the barbs backward toward the base of the hackle. Do this 2-3 times to separate the hackle fibers. Then re-position your left thumb and forefinger directly below your right, trap all of the barbs that lie below your right thumb and forefinger under your left thumb and forefinger and pull them slightly backward, release your right hand and cut the tip off the feather with a pair of scissors; leaving you with a structure at the tip that look like an inverted pyramid; about 1/8" long. Keep your left thumb and forefinger in position. [Note: this pyramid serves as an “anchor” when you tie in the hackle and lets you put a lot more pressure on the hackle when you wind it onto the hook than you would otherwise be able to apply.]

3. Take a pair of hemostats or small flat-jawed pliers, reach slightly under your left thumb and forefinger and pull off the first 2-4 barbs from each side of he hackle. This will leave you with a bare stem just below the pyramid, and this bare stem will make both the folding of the hackle and its winding onto the hook much easier.

3. Tie the hackle onto the hook. You can either do this by tying it in “on the flat”; which means with the shiny side of the feather facing you, or “on the edge”; which means that the shiny side is facing the eye. I tie in on the edge, but most people tie in on the flat because the hackle doesn’t move around on you as much when it’s tied in on the flat.

4. Now it’s time to fold the hackle. Hold the hackle vertically above the tie-in point.. I use my right hand to grip the bottom of the feather, but others prefer to use hackle pliers; either way works just fine. Put some pressure on the hackle; if it’s going to pull out on you, you want to know that now, not after you’ve gone through the folding process.

Take your left forefinger and place it behind the back-side barbs that are closest to the hook; those that are furthest away from you, and place your left thumb behind the front-side barbs; those that are closest to you. Be sure to hold the hackle with your left thumb and finger placed on both the barbs and the stem. Now, squeeze the stem/barbs tightly. Then, release your grip with the left thumb and forefinger slightly and stroke the barbs only (not the stem) firmly backward and upward using a semicircular motion. This should fold your hackle.

Now re-position your left thumb and forefinger on the next group of barbs above the ones that you just folded and repeat the process. Continue with this process until you have folded enough of the hackle to provide you with the distance that you want to travel along the hook (palmered hackle) or the number of turns that you want to wind around the hook (collar hackle).

[Note: there are hackles that are easy to fold and there are those that are difficult. For those that are easy one squeeze/stroke cycle should do it. For more difficult hackles, repeat the squeeze/stroke cycle 2-3 times. And for those hackles that are really resistant, wet your fingers and repeat the squeeze/stroke cycle 3-5 times. That should do it for you.]

[Note; the “folded hackle” is actually a “fractured hackle”. What you’re doing in the folding process is permanently altering the way in which the barbs are attached to the base of the stem. The squeeze produces micro-fractures going from the stem towards the bend. The stoke produced additional micro-fractures going from the stem upward. The combination of these fractures is what folds the hackle. The more resistant the barbs are to being fractured, the more time you have to spend squeezing and stroking them into the position that you want to achieve.]

Before I continue, I should tell you that I use a rotary vise to apply folded hackles to patterns. So, what I will say in the following steps relates to how I tie with my rotary. If you are using a non-rotary vise, then simply wind the folded hackle around the hook instead of using the rotary handle to wind the hook around the hackle.

5. Wind on the hackle. Before I wind the hackle, I stoke the bottom folded barbs once more; to be sure that I’ve got them the way that I want them. Then I start the winding-on process. With the bare stem space that you created in step 3., you should have found it much easier to fold the bottom barbs and you should not find yourself trapping any barbs under the stem when you start winding the folded hackle onto the hook.

So, stroke the barbs back and take turn around the hook. Then re-stroke the barbs and take another turn. Continue this process until you’ve applied all of the folded hackle that you want to put onto your pattern.

6. Tie off the hackle and you’re complete.

As additional information, there are a lot of older texts on folding hackles that tell you to fold the hackle before you tie it onto the hook. This, to me, always seemed like a waste of time for no apparent benefit. Then I started to think about how these patterns were being tied up and I realized that the majority of tiers in those days were free-hand tying their patterns - they weren’t using vises. Then it all made more sense. However, with a advent of really good vises, I don’t see the benefit to pre-folding your hackles. But, it’s up to you.

Good luck!

Pocono

Last edited by Pocono; 03-27-2010 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 03-27-2010, 02:14 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

This is a test.

Frank
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Old 03-27-2010, 10:17 PM
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Default Re: Folding Hackle

H iFrank,

Looks like it's working OK for me now. Thanks for the test post.

Pocono
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