So 4 weeks in to my new obsession fly tying. I have found I am hammer fisted and tend to pull to hard on the peacock herl and snap them. So I got a bag of Peacock Black Ice Dub. I used it on a bunch of pheasant tails , Z-Wing Caddis today and it worked real well. I can see where if the pattern doesnt have a wing case and just the thorax I would use the real herl.
What are your guys thoughts or tricks besides not pulling so hard I break the herl ?
Do you have a rotary vice? If so, use it to help out. Otherwise, keep at it and over time you'll get much better at it.
Yeah I did get the Peak Rotary and is does help qute a bit. So I guess all things being equal would you think the dub is a NoNo or the patterns are still fishy, look like they should etc etc. I guess I need to get a hall pass for tomorrow and just go try them out.
As a side note I am trying to make real durable flies so I am using Sall Hansen's on almost every nymph / Midge. For example I run some of the lacquer over the thread befor wrapping a pheasant tail. Then I put a layer of it under the wing case and against the bead so that when I whip finish it the thread sinks in the lacquer. Takes a minute or so per fly but I dont want to make decent looking flies that fall apart. Prior to using the Sally Hansens my flies while wrapped tight, whip finished correctly didnt seem to be as durable as I hoped.
You can twist it together with a very fine wire or even twist it in with your tying thread. Not only will it help breakage at the vise but it'll last a bit longer between fish. Especially if its laid into SH's.
There's nothing at all wrong with using the peacock dub IMO. In fact, I use it all the time. I like the extra shine I get off of it. But like wt bash said, twisting it together will help out too. If it's durability I'm after, chances are I'll use the dubbing. However, I generally lose or change a fly long before it's worn out. When they do wear out, I take them back to the tying desk and take a razor to it and tie it again.
I remember doing the same thing before. I found that sometimes you can get a bad batch of herl from time to time. Or rather there are better types of herl feathers that maybe come from different parts of the peacock.
I recently found some real long herl that is really tough to break, about 8 inches. This herl has not been cut and has the base of the feather still present. I might suggest trying some different herl brands and lengths since its pretty cheap. I have really tugged on this stuff of mine when trying to clean up an end and too lazy to snip it, and its tough, usually have to grab the scizo's.
I have never used the herl black ice before. Also if you loosen the tension as you wrap the herl to the point that it just slips through you fingers you will have less breaks. Good luck
Thanks for the advice guys, so I wont lose sleep overusing dub vs herl, but I will check my other herl sticks and see if the fibers are stronger. Sometimes it was very little pressure to break the fibers.
And the comment of I lose flies before they wear out....AMEN I resemble that remark. Ive just had a few of my very first ties come apart (wire wrap on a midge unraveled) after 2 fish.
since you're only new, it takes time to get used to what tension is required to prevent breakage.
Dont give up on herl. Its is mighty useful, as is the dubbing.
When wrapping herl, you just need enough tension to keep its wrapped on the book.
Try using a hackle plier with a loop in the end that you can put your finger through. That way you are much more gentle with the herl and if you're using rotary function, then you dont even have to move the herl, just hold it and let the vise do the work.
Practice practice practice....you'll get there eventually
Old peacock herl or herl that has been exposed to too much light or a very dry environment tends to get brittle. You can "test" the viability of the strands prior to tying by pulling on them. Generally, it's the area near the tips that is most fragile.
I know someone who used to make a bath of glycerine and water and soak bundles of herl in it before any large tying sessions, but I've never done that... if I found it too brittle to tie with, I moved on to another piece. You can save the brittle stuff to use as winging on small streamers, or tails on zug bugs or whatever.
The suggestions about making a rope are good, but that tends to mat the herl down and it loses some of it's lustre. I do it on large (size 6 and up) princes, but that's about all. You can counterwrap/rib the herl with 14/0 black thread or clear thread- that allows it to remain 'bushy' but strengthens it.
I learned that herl actually has a "direction"- if you look closely when you wrap it, the fibers stick out in a specific direction from the 'stem' and wrapped correctly, the fibers stand up and the stem winds tighter against the previous wrap.
One other comment- I mentioned how too much light can make the herl brittle. The way you naturally "bronze" herl is to expose it to direct sunlight, just don't overdo it.