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Old 11-02-2011, 10:18 AM
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Default Soft Hackle?

I love to tie soft hackles and my hungarian partridge skin is running out of feathers. I went on to cabelas to order a new one when I saw that they also had packaged feathers for 2$. Are these feathers any good? \

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Old 11-02-2011, 10:30 AM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

I have package feathers of hungarian partridge, i believe they are Hareline Brand. They are decent feathers, especially for soft hackles.
Most of the feathers are smaller, so if you are tying really big, i'd suggest to get the skin.
If smaller flies are your deal, then the feathers will more than suffice.

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Old 11-02-2011, 12:51 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

Usually the packaged partridge and grouse feathers seem to run the other way for me-- with barbs too long for most trout sized soft hackle when wrapped around the shank, mostly sized for hooks from 2-12-- but if you want to try a pack I'll send you one-- it's still useful for legs and tails on nymphs and larger softhackles. A whole skin typically has feathers that will hackle size 16 hooks-- and another advantage of a skin is that the feathers are kind of presorted by size in that feathers from the same area of the skin will usually be the same or similar in size (barb length).

Indian Hen backs are inexpensive at around $5 and come in mottled colors and in addition to using clipped fibers for legs and tails on nymphs they usually hackle size 14-2 or 12-2 hook.

And if want to tie some really smaller smaller stuff, a Starling skin at around $6 or 7 will hackle down to size 20 and up to around size 14.

Collins also sells "hen sets" consisting of the cape( neck) and saddle for $17 which are excellent-- I have some at home I'll check tonight on the size range of hackle feathers. The stems are easy to wrap and he has them in a variety of colors.
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

Packaged loose plumage is seldom as good as purchasing a skin, IF you tie enough that you can use a whole skin. Some vendors sell split skins, or you may know other tyers locally that would be willing to go "halfsies" with you on a skin.

I also use dove and quail for smaller soft hackles, as well as some feathers from pheasant skins. Mark's comment about hen hackle is another good suggestion- I've found that you can typically split the quill on a hen hackle and get a sparse wrap.... but a full width hackle seems too dense for me.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

I tried the bags of loose feathers before buying a skin. I broke down and bought a skin pretty quick because I found it to be a tremendous pain in the a$$ to find the size I needed.

On a skin, they're basically arranged by size.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

I bought one package and never did again. It seemed to be about 75% fuzz and aftershaft and 25% crooked feathers.
Get a skin. There's all sorts of good feathers on them in all sizes.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:18 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peregrines View Post

Collins also sells "hen sets" consisting of the cape( neck) and saddle for $17 which are excellent-- I have some at home I'll check tonight on the size range of hackle feathers. The stems are easy to wrap and he has them in a variety of colors.
I checked last night and the Collins hen set I have will hackle size 18 (smallest feathers on the top of the neck) to about a size 4 (bottom of the neck and bottom of the saddle).

From left:

Conranch grizzly hen set (hackle sizes 14-2) $45
Conranch JV Hen set (JV= Juvenile bird, physically smaller, and smaller feathers with shorter barbs feathers ) hackle size 20 and larger about $32
Collins dark dun hen set consisting of a cape (cape = neck) (darker dun color) and saddle (lighter dun colored) about $17

Click the image to open in full size.

Other hens more widely available in stores are
Whiting Hen Cape (with red Whiting Label) typically hackles size 18-12 hooks, and goes for about $24, and
Whiting Hebert Miner hen capes (with green Whiting label) typically hackles size 16-10) for about $20
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:38 PM
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Default Re: Soft Hackle?

I got to join the CAPE buyer. Too many years I bought the packages and they were full of fluff and garbage as far as usable feathers.

Hen neck feathers are awesome as well and CDL for wet flies.
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